Harvey Is A Major Still-Unfolding Disaster

The Brazos levee at Columbia Lakes has been breached.

Good luck to the residents there. That’s a bad situation.
Perversely, and disgustingly, the central banks are busy manipulating the US stock indexes upwards at the moment. I know they think they are helping to provide a calming lift to a beleaguered nation, but the optics of having equities cheer on the destruction is truly galling to this observer. Tone deaf beyond any reason.

After reading Rector’s excellent post, I am wondering anew about the value of a bug-out shelter on much higher ground some distance away, or in the case of those of us in Earthquake Country, far enough away from fault zones to be unaffected by a quake. I have questioned the notion of bug-out shelters in rural locales being options for permanent relocation, and wrote a 2-parter here on the trade-offs involved in having a true second home (i.e. equipped for long-term occupancy) elsewhere.
Even a simple shelter (trailer, small cabin, etc.) would be extremely valuable if the alternative was a public shelter or crashing at a relatives–OK for a few days, but problematic for a stay of weeks unless the relatives’ property is expansive.
Anyone with a bug-out shelter a day’s drive (or less) away could get there and if the storm passed without any major disruption, return home in a day. But if they needed to stay for weeks or even months, the bug-out shelter would be a welcome option.
I am also pondering the immense value of having 1.5 day warning that a hurricane will make landfall. Earthquakes tend to provide some early signaling but it is generally ambiguous. Those of us in EQ Country will be making assessments after the damage has already occurred. If the roads remain open, a bug-out shelter would still be extremely valuable, especially if we left more or less immediately, before everyone else figured out a destination outside the devastation.

I am thankful for all the local volunteers and those donating from afar to help those affected in real time by this disaster.
When the dust settles … Congress will authorize a $100Billion + spending bill to help Houston (read bailout everyone, home, business owners, insurance companies ). And Why not? It makes everyone feel good and it’s just printed money (debt sold to central banks) - what some printed money compared to having families lose their homes. The debt will never be paid back anyway.

There are increasing reports of looting happening now all over the Houston area, as well as reports that some looters appear to be arriving from elsewhere to take advantage of the situation.
The takeaway here is that you had better be prepared for the human threats to closely follow the natural disaster. I know that’s not news to any of the loyal readers here, but it never hurts to reinforce the message.
During the mayor’s recent press conference (an hour ago) the Chief of Police spoke to this.

Reinforcing this idea is this tweet from Houston Office of Emergency Mgmt:

There were also reports that the Cajun Navy (volunteers with boats) had been fired upon by looters (but also note they are running into increasingly desperate people rushing their boats).

Cajun Navy rescuer says looters shot at them, tried to steal boats Aug 28, 2017 HOUSTON — A rescuer for the famed Louisiana Cajun Navy says looters tried to steal their boats and fired shots at them while they were trying to save Houston residents from flooded homes. Clyde Cain told CNN that a boat broke down, and while the crew sought shelter in a delivery truck, people tried to steal the inoperable boat. “They’re making it difficult for us to rescue them,” he said. “You have people rushing the boat. Everyone wants to get in at the same time. They’re panicking. Water is rising.”
Here’s a salient comment from a Reddit thread on the tension that you will live with being a person with resources in a damaged area:
I was in Georgia during Hurricane Matthew. Once the water started to go down the looting began. The roads hadn't opened up yet and the only people around were the preppers who stayed and those who couldn't afford to leave. When there is no power and clouds overhead, it is very dark. Unbelievably dark. You better believe looting happens. You can try your hardest to dry out your possessions and defend your home, but there were thugs driving around during the day casing the neighborhoods to see who has generators and what houses are unoccupied. It is terrifying to sit at your window in complete darkness knowing there is someone outside trying to steal your possessions and wondering what is going to happen when you open the door to scare them away. (Source)
What's truly astonishing is that the vast majority of people seemed to have no preparations in place. No extra food. No thoughts to even filling up a bathtub with extra water. No communications besides their cell phones, no plans of any sort, and no idea what to do. Reports are piling in of people faking 911 medical emergencies just to get an evacuation response. Apparently it hadn't occurred to them that there weren't 3 million emergency responders on call to respond instantly to their own unique and immediate needs. It's not just a snowflake generation, it's a snowflake country. Many lessons being taught here.
Update #1 (8/29 1:10 pm): Right on time...3-4 days into a crisis like this and people get hungry.

The Fort Bend OEM has issued the following list of affected subdivisions and communities that need to be ready for flood conditions ranging from minor to utterly disastrous:

Update at 1:25 pm 8/29: This community isn't even listed on the above table. Best to add it I guess. Flooding looks pretty deep (i.e. bad):

Here’s a great comment about the Columbia Lakes levee breach.

The place never should have been developed in the first place and wouldn’t have been if private insurers were the only ones available.
So homes were build right in a flood plain, an insufficient levee was placed around the development and the government now holds the bag on the mortgages.
And by “government” I mean taxpayers. And by “taxpayers” I mean you and your loved ones.

This is a thing I sent off this morning to do what I can

Re: CAC - want to help - air miles + amazon stuff
Hi Steven,
Want to help more w/ CAC push, re Harvey, past cash donation on the way…
I have 62838 air miles from Alaska Air.
I need full name, gender, birth date, departure airport and
(approximate) flight date/time(s) to make one or more flights happen.
DFW one-way tickets “cost” 12500 miles on the budget flights, so 25k
miles for any round trip. I’ll cover the taxes & fee crap. Bags are
extra, but fairly big carry-ons are no additional charge for people.
Can’t fund bags. They can be paid for at airport ticket counter.
If you have people that want to be on deck but need air fare,
you have some people that have a place inland they can stay with
relatives or what have you, but can’t get there
I can help with a few of them with this.
Also, if you have a list of amazon crap that could be drop-shipped to
Jack’s ranch or wherever for pickup and distribution, I and maybe others
could execute on a “wish list”.
You would have to update this with NEEDS/NEEDS FILLED columns pretty
regularly so your ship-to point does not wind up with 10,000 D cells and
no diapers for instance.
Let me know,

Center Point Energy just tweeted this cryptic but worrying information:

I’m not sure the word “planned” is appropriate. :confused:
“Managed” might be a better fit.
But this was what I was talking about in the outages section above. Long-term power outages are likely to cause all sorts of havoc on the recovery efforts.

Oy ve is right, I live in Central Texas and as Harvey approached and everyone around me was running around getting ready my wife asked “What do we need to do ?” My reply was “Nothing, we are ready”. She smirked and didn’t say anything else. She quit questioning my prepping a year or two back and now this makes it real. Anyway we received only a glancing blow (a mere 5.3 inches of rain and a yard full of twigs), and now get this:
The disaster relief informal network is in full swing and I am sending some of my preps back to Houston. I can hear it now “Wow, someone sent us a water filter instead of bottled water! And with instructions too!”
I have had (another) talk with my daughter about a backup power supply for their well, maybe it will get done this time.
Anyway I would not have been prepared or able to give advice and direction without the likes of PP, Survivalblog, et al. Thanks to everyone, community rocks!

From the BBC today:

There's a well-established physical law, the Clausius-Clapeyron equation, that says that a hotter atmosphere holds more moisture. For every extra degree Celsius in warming, the atmosphere can hold 7% more water. This tends to make rainfall events even more extreme when they occur. Another element that we can mention with some confidence is the temperature of the seas. "The waters of the Gulf of Mexico are about 1.5 degrees warmer above what they were from 1980-2010," Sir Brian Hoskins from the Grantham Institute for Climate Change told BBC Radio 4's Today programme. "That is very significant because it means the potential for a stronger storm is there, and the contribution of global warming to the warmer waters in the Gulf, it's almost inevitable that there was a contribution to that."

I wonder where all the food warehouses are located? Most of the time industrial and warehousing is in the cheapest, i.e. most flood prone area of town. So, nothing is coming into the city, how long before the food is out for 4 million people?

“Giant Chemical Plant In Crosby, Texas Warns It Is In “Real Danger” Of Exploding”, @ http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-08-29/giant-texas-chemical-plant-real-danger-explosion-arkema-warns

A chemical plant in Crosby, Texas belonging to French industrial giant Arkema SA, has announced it is evacuating workers on Tuesday due to the risk of an explosion, after Tropical Storm Harvey knocked out power and flooding swamped its backup generators. The French company said the situation at the plant “has become serious” ...
The plant, which produces explosive organic peroxides and ammonia, was hit by more than 40 inches of rain and has been heavily flooded, running without electricity since Sunday. The plant was closed since Friday but has had a skeleton staff of about a dozen in place. Following the flood surge, the plant's back-up generators also failed. According to the plant's website description, it "produces methyl mercaptan, ethyl mercaptan, dimethyl sulfide (DMS) and methylmercapto-proprionaldehyde (MMP)."

Our products are key ingredients in the manufacture of biodegradable herbicides, pesticides and animal feed supplements. These products are also used in the production of pharmaceuticals, photographic chemicals and circuit boards. Ethyl mercaptan is primarily used as an odorizer for propane gas. The strong odor that ethyl mercaptan adds to propane makes gas leaks easier to detect, protecting homes and businesses. MMP is used in the production of methionine, an essential amino acid and a key component of poultry, swine and ruminant (cattle, sheep, etc.) feed.

The threat emerged once the company could no longer maintain refrigeration for chemicals located on site, which have to be stored at low temperatures. The plant lost refrigeration when backup generators were flooded and then workers transferred products from the warehouses into diesel-powered refrigerated containers.

Now I’ve seen everything.
By the time you see white caps on an interstate, what could possibly be left in life?

A taste of things to come?

Give this task to the army, not the average Joe.
This is exactly what has been done in 1980 in El-Asnam (The city has been completely destroyed by an earthquake). The army was sent there to help, and every looter caught by them, was executed. Quick, cheap and most importantly very convincing.

As I checked the recent news and especially the Twitter feeds the people of Houston are understandably thrilled that the rain has stopped and the sun is out.
Already the headlines are about “healing from Harvey” but I should point out that this is premature.
The flooding is still on the rise for many communities, not least of which remains the very center of Houston where the latest graph of the Addicks reservoir shows this (from 1:30 a.m. CDT, the most recent update):

That has not even leveled off yet and seems to have some room yet to run. So inflows still exceed outflows.

In a Tuesday afternoon press conference, the Army Corps of Engineers said that the pool elevation at Addicks had risen to 108 feet and is expected to peak at 110.4 feet. Barker is currently at 100 feet was expected to peak at 104 feet. (Source)
God forbid a breach happens somehow because that would send a wall of water through Houston that would be above and beyond any damage seen so far. For now, officials are saying everything is fine, which is good news.
Lindner wanted to emphasize that there was not a breach in the dam on the north end of Addicks, as some people believe. "The integrity of the dams is in fine shape....there is no potential damage to the north end." Engineers will continue to raise the gates of dams slowly. Currently, the water in Addicks will flow at 3800 cubic feet per second and 3500 cubic feet per second for Barker. The goal is 4000 cubic feet per second is expected to be reached today. (Same source as above)
The water from Addicks is now flowing over the emergency spillway, [edit: I've since discovered, the spillways are not where the water is leavings from, it's an unplanned breach to the north] which is a very long concrete affair and seems unlikely to fail. (Source) Of course, this is exactly like the Oroville dam spillway and we are about to find out if it was designed and built properly. These spillways are probably designed to handle short-term events, with a defined amount of water flowing over. For example, because engineering costs money and things eventually get replaced anyways, the decision might have been made to design it for a 100 year event where the water topped out at 102 feet and a flow rate of X. Right now this is a 500 or a 1,000 year event and the water is going to top out at 110.4 feet with a flow rate of Y and then come down slowly over many days. Then, even if the design and construction of the spillway are able to manage the overtopping flow rate after all, there are other considerations such as the debris in the water. I cannot verify the integrity of this anonymous comment made on Reddit, but it seems like a reasonable concern:
I work for an agency but I can’t say which because I am not allowed to speak officially. Those spillways are meant to withstand short events. Water wins even when steel re-enforced concrete is concerned. I’ve seen some estimates the dam has about two hours and some say it could go as long as 12. It’s not particularly relevant because at this point the full flow of the tributaries is leaving so the downstream areas will be inundated. The only thing that may likely be prevented is a catastrophic failure that creates an instantaneous flood. Anyone downstream from there should be leaving no matter what. They are no longer safe. The 2-hour estimate was from a rather cynical engineer who doubts the spillway was maintained or even constructed properly because they are viewed as absolute last resorts that never happen. It’s taken 49 inches of rain to get to that point. The 12 hours was an engineer who was trying to factor in debris in the water and the destruction of the spillway itself below to top. Once the lower spillway is damaged it deteriorates quickly and moves back to the overflow top. He believes its likely within 12 hours that will occur because the water flow is neither steady nor has it had time to clear of debris. Water entering the reservoir contains a large amount of floating material because rain is still actively falling and levels are still rising. If this had been an upstream geographically removed from the damn, the amount of debris reaching and flowing in the spillway would be greatly reduced. This is an active event that is increasing in severity. He was also considering the fact that its likely at this time that the reservoir itself is filling with debris raising the bottom significantly. This lowers the ability of the reservoir to allow abrasive material to settle. The longer the rainfall occurs over the immediate area, the more abrasive and destructive the water will become. His estimate was that beginning at 12 hours the risk of failure is likely and it goes up steadily after that. He doesn't believe it will hold the 24 hours required for the localized rain to stop. (Source)
So it seems that this situation needs to be monitored and that even though the sun is out and it’s stopped raining, it ain’t over yet. If the Addicks and/or Barton dams breach, Houston’s center will receive a very large blob of water that would be many feet on top of what’s already there. Perhaps 10 to 15 feet by some estimates. Yes, the sun is out and it has stopped raining. No, it isn't over yet but I understand that the attention span of the MSM and nation has already been breached. So we'll keep monitoring ourselves.

I’m still reviewing a very complex and rapidly changing energy situation as a result of HArvey, but for now we can just look at gasoline futures and understand that a major situation is underway.
This is astonishing:

I think it’s entirely possible that actual shortages and rationing could result.
This is especially true in the Northeast which is so heavily dependent on the Colonial pipeline.
Buy gas, and consider storing some if you can. Remember, not int he garage. Keep your stored gas somewhere besides the structure in which you live.