Changing Planet

Hurricane vs. House

During Hurricane Ike in 2008, the eye of the storm passed over my grandma’s and aunt and uncle’s houses, according to data from my uncle’s home weather station. My family’s homes sit just 16 feet above sea level, steps away from an alligator-filled bayou in southern Houston.

Storm surge estimates had predicted that the bayou was likely to over-run the neighborhood, so my family had evacuated to my parents’ place in Austin, taking a few suitcases full of their most prized possessions. My uncle kept his webcam running inside the house as long as the batteries lasted; at that point no water had yet entered.

The next day my relatives were able to get in touch with a neighbor, who had ventured into the subdivision after Ike passed. He told them all the homes were spared; the bayou had risen to within a foot of its rim but had not crested.

My family’s homes were spared in 2008, but many thousands of people have not been so lucky. Hurricanes are powerful storms that can wipe away homes and memories in seconds. Natural defenses like barrier islands and bayous can help mitigate the damage, but rising population has put more people in harm’s way.

This infographic by Blu Homes, a maker of green prefab dwellings, takes a look at some of these issues:

Hurricane Vs. House

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