Tuesday, September 26, 2017
 
Local Coverage Conveyed Most Accurate Picture of Houston Flooding and Its Impact

HOUSTON, TX Aug. 31 (DPI) – You can thank the internet for giving the world access to sites like Chron.com – of the newspaper The Houston Chronicle – during this historic week of flooding in Southeast Texas.  Such local news sites tended to provide a less shrill, less packaged, more sober assessment of what was happening in greater Houston in recent days.

While The New York Times was posting impressive graphics of social media help calls – calls that couldn’t be independently verified – and The Washington Post ruminated on whether Hurricane Harvey was a 100-year or 1,000-year flood event, the local Houston news sites simply posted photos and reports on activity in specific areas of the sprawling city of 6.6 million, from which very few resident evacuated.

The local coverage also seemed to confirm that Texans, a resourceful and self-reliant bunch by reputation, were indeed collecting in the drier parts of town, in available churches and shelters, and improvising support for the thousands whose homes were flooded.

The site of news station KHOU was also very active throughout the historic weather event.

An estimated 30,000 were housed in temporary shelters this week. But for a metro area that is the fourth largest in the US, that number of evacuees was surprisingly small.  It’s still unclear what percentage of the city was submerged, but it’s believed to be about one-third of the geographical area of the city.

Like the Katrina disaster in New Orleans in 2005, the hardest hit were of course those in the low-lying areas – those areas that typically house the poorest and most vulnerable residents.

Inquiries by Digital Press International this week suggested that the impact was not as universal as national news sources reported. Emails to wealthier residents on Tuesday came back with instant replies of “we’re fine” and “other parts of town are being hit”.

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