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Hurricane Harvey Echoes the 1910 Paris Flood

The Houston Chronicle

Hurricane Harvey, the first major hurricane of 2017, hit Texas on August 25 and wreaked havoc on the region for 8 days. Houses were ripped apart by heavy winds, flooded by torrential rains or affected later as storm water caused overrun rivers to flood onto land. Houston, the fourth most populous city in the U.S., received a majority of the rain from the storm, causing the city to become inundated with water as streets turned into rivers and many people became trapped in their low-level houses. In total, the storm dumped 27 trillion gallons of rain over Texas and Louisiana and left damages costing up to $75 billion dollars, according to CNN.

In the aftermath of this hurricane, although two others, Irma and Jose, follow on its heels, Texas daily newspaper The Houston Chronicle turns to a piece of French history as a comparison. In 1910, a quarter of the city of Paris became submerged in water as heavy winter rains flooded the Seine and caused its contents to spill onto the streets. What increased the damage was the city’s aqueducts, sewers and subway tunnels designed by legendary Parisian architect George-Eugène Haussmann. Intended to modernize and glorify Paris, the city’s underground became swollen with water during this flood, turning the sidewalks “into jelly,” according to one British journalist. The article concludes by reflecting on the false sense of security that Haussmann’s sewers gave Parisians before the disaster, quite similar to the one that flood control measures give Houston today.

Read more at The Houston Chronicle