Houston’s growth may have contributed to devastating flooding
September 5, 2017
Houston calls itself “the city with no limits” to convey the promise of boundless opportunity. But it also is the largest U.S. city to have no zoning laws, part of a hands-off approach to urban planning that may have contributed to catastrophic flooding from Hurricane Harvey and left thousands of residents in harm’s way.
Growth that is virtually unchecked, including in flood-prone areas, has diminished the land’s already-limited natural ability to absorb water, according to environmentalists and experts in land use and natural disasters. And the city’s drainage system — a network of reservoirs, bayous and, as a last resort, roads that hold and drain water — was not designed to handle the massive storms that are increasingly common.