Due to the destruction of natural resources and poor community planning efforts, Texas remains extraordinarily vulnerable to hurricane damage, said two Texas A&M urban planning professors in an Aug. 28 Bryan-College Station Eagle report as Hurricane Isaac barreled through the Gulf of Mexico.
Although Texas was spared Isaac’s wrath, building in areas inappropriate for development continues to increase the state’s vulnerability, said Walter Gillis Peacock, director of the Hazard Reduction and Recovery Center.
The state, he said, has developed proper building codes but added that there are no “teeth” to them.
“There is a disconnect between the state and local level, and very limited, to no regulations at the county level,” said Peacock. “In Texas, we believe in land-use rights above all else.”
Sam Brody, director of the Institute for Sustainable Coastal Communities, which combines resources of Texas A&M’s College of Architecture and Texas A&M University at Galveston, said that flooding remains a major concern in the state.
“Texas is one of the most flood-ravaged places in the country. From 1960-2008, we recorded about 8,000 casualties from flooding, which is 2.5 times the next state on the list,” said Brody, who also heads the Center for Texas Beaches and Shores. “Houston has had the largest number of flood fatalities in the United States for the last 50 years and one of the highest per-capita property damage from floods in the U.S.”