Using the Storm Risk Calculator produced by the city of Houston and Rice University, users can enter an address and learn the risks for rainfall, power outage, storm surge and rain damage.
For example, Houston Mayor Annise Parker’s house in Midtown has a low risk of power outage and wind damage, and no risk of storm surge or rainfall with a Category 2 hurricane.
Users can adjust the strength of the hypothetical storm from a Category 1-5 to see how the risks increase and decrease depending on the size of the hurricane.
The goal is to keep Houstonians from leaving unnecessarily and creating the kind of mass reaction that followed Hurricane Rita in 2005, when tens of thousands evacuated for no real reason, causing highway congestion and panic, said Dennis Storemski, director of the Mayor’s Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security.
Robert Stein, a political science professor at Rice, said the best way to get people to do something is to give them the information they need to make an educated decision.
Fair enough. The risk calculator can be found at risk.rtsnets.com. You can see the result of my calculation in the graphic above. I agree with the rainfall risk – our street has never flooded, though some nearby ones did during TS Allison – but I’m skeptical of the power outage risk. Our house was only without power for a day after Ike, but some folks a block away were down for more than a week. There’s a lot of trees in our neighborhood, and with trees come the risk of power lines being taken down. Regardless, now I know what the experts think, and you can too. See the Mayor’s press release for more.