HOUSTON - Away from the coast, any trouble from tropical storm Beta will depend, entirely, on where the rain hits and misses. Through the opening hours of rain bands hitting the Houston area, creeks and bayous appeared able to handle the volume.
But, after the experience of Hurricane Harvey, and seeing the recent destruction from Laura and Sally, these storms still pack a fair amount of anxiety, mixed with the wind and rain. "You know, it's hard on people," says Nottingham Forest resident Don Paullo, "When it's raining at night, there are some who have trouble sleeping."
He knows what he's talking about. His home situated just two blocks away from Buffalo Bayou was flooded during Hurricane Harvey and took more than a year to rebuild. Now, even as the bayou remains safely within its banks, the memory is not far away. "I feel like this storm is going to be rain-event: not too much to worry about," Paullo says, "but every hurricane season, you start getting anxious and you start worrying."
As for Beta, flood control authorities are fairly confident that the projected rainfall, away from the coast, is manageable. After a fairly-dry summer, there's an expectation that the metro area is able to absorb and handle several inches of rain, with little effect on creeks and bayous.
Closer to the coast, could be cause for concern, as higher tides push from the Gulf to meet runoff flowing out of the city. Jeff Lindner, with the Harris County Flood Control District, says the unpredictable pattern of the rain, as it comes ashore, a potential concern over the next 24 hours. "Where we would start to become concerned is if we would get a band-situation where it just stayed in one place for several hours," says Lindner, "Typically, that's what leads to our flooding problems, here."
Back at Don Paullo's home, he'll be happy, like a lot of people, when hurricane season ends. He worries that we haven't done much to mitigate the weaknesses that allow significant damage when big storms 'do' come here.