When Hurricane Harvey made landfall late last week San Antonio was forecasted to receive a foot and a half of rain. Due to the mechanics of hurricanes and the geography of the Texas coast (hurricanes here rotate counterclockwise and so the storms tend to be much more damaging in their "northeastern quadrant") the vast majority of rain associated with the storm fell to the east and the Alamo City received less than three inches of rain. A little under three inches of rain fell at my home. Parts of Houston received almost 52" inches. It has been hard to watch all the images of the devastation.
Hurricanes are nothing new to the Texas coast but the scale of this one was unprecedented. Was climate change responsible for Harvey? No, but heightened ocean temperatures probably made it more intense. Did Houston's expansive urbanization make flooding worse? Perhaps, but over four feet of rain is going to cause problems anywhere it falls.
Acts of God can be made worse by acts of men. But men (and women, of course) can rebuild. They can plan. They can design for a world that has 100-year storms every few years. And perhaps most importantly they can have the sympathy and compassion to lend a hand to their fellow man when he is need.