The day Houston was targeted

Evidence on what happened in Houston

Houston residents displaced by massive flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey are sheltering at the city’s convention centre. They share their stories of dealing with the storm.

The story of the Houston flooding is distraught. Many people have died because of this horrific event.

The past week, a historic 30 inches of rain in just 72 hours fell on Houston, Texas — leading to at least eight deaths and the displacement of an estimated 30,000 people. Since then, images of police officers carrying women, women carrying babies, and people of all ages carrying dogs to safety have flooded global news feeds and front-pages alike — moving millions to sympathy.

The result? A very admirable impulse to want to help. Which for most of us takes the form of donating aid. Vast amounts are already pouring in, both from concerned individuals and large corporations like Amazon and Starbucks.

Yet as people ask how they can best donate, questions are being raised about the longer-term response. What about support for efforts to promote future flood resilience? Or for action on reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that lead to climate change itself?

Raising these issues can come across as insensitive and untimely — people need “help not lectures”, as one Facebook commentator put it. But while urgent relief is certainly needed. There is also a strong case that the immediate aftermath of disaster is exactly when wider issues need to be raised. Not least because right now is when politicians would rather they were not.

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