Not only are thousands without homes after August's Hurricane Harvey, but Moody Analytics now estimates that the storm has a price tag of some $73.5 billion in economic loss.
Most of that damage was sustained in Harris County, Texas, which is primarily populated by Houston and its contiguous suburbs.
Hurricane losses are not only made up of loss of property, but of loss of productivity and loss of income.
Some years back, I owned a residential real estate brokerage firm that had an office in, what was then, the hot Montrose area of Houston. During those years, I was also an officer and director of a major Houston residential builder.
The company built and managed about 5,000 upscale garden apartments. To a lesser degree, we built upscale homes in Houston and the Dallas-Ft. Worth area.
It was not particularly difficult to find sufficient acreage for the apartments, but, in the main, we had to go into the developing suburbs to find enough lots to build homes.
The weird part of Houston's attitude was that zoning was best to never be considered, and that it would look the other way as concrete, asphalt and buildings were added to take up space and mess up natural drainage.
And I don't recall anyone, except us, worrying about the possibility of the lots we were considering for homes being subjected to flooding.
We chose not to buy and build on those the engineers said were below the flood plain.
However, as we now look at what occurred as a result of Harvey, Houston paid little to no attention to flooding consequences which were really easily predictable. Instead, it looked the other way.
So that leads me to wonder why our laws are not such that people making decisions in the name of corporations and governments are not also personally at risk for the bad behavior?
Those who joined together to see that all of those homes, buildings, quality of life and jobs would be at risk, should not be able to hide behind entities that protect themselves from loss.
You and I are, after all, coming up with a major portion of the billions in loss, not those who caused it.
All the while, those who find themselves seriously damaged are still exasperatedly asking what happened and why did it.
I'm glad that in our particular case, we took the ethical high road.
BILL CHERRY, REALTOR