Readers Write: Houston pays high price for unlearned lessons


When it became increasingly obvious that competition among the original cadre of advisors was creating chaos in the Oval Office and nothing was getting done, cooler heads prevailed and the group of aides surrounding the President was changed.

Reince Priebus, the long serving Republican National Committee chairman, was out as chief of staff and the ultra nationalist Steve Bannon, along with the beleaguered, pathetic press secretary, Sean Spicer, were gone.

Of course, the President’s amateurish family, in whom resides the most trust, regardless of their inexperience in affairs of state, remain with access and awesome assignments.

A group of military, much respected by the President, remain. And General Kelly has assumed the unenviable task of organizing the President and hoping he will not sabotage his message.

Meuller’s probe into possible collusion with Russia in the matter of our presidential election continues apace.

Worries about North Korea’s expansion as a nuclear nation progress. President Trump’s quarrels with his own party are bitter. His troubling inability to challenge race baiters is fracturing the nation. Continual misinterpretations and boastfulness pepper every speech, and his incitement of his base persist.

Need I say more?

Well, of course, last week, Hurricane Harvey,  to add to our challenges, assaulted the fourth largest city of our country, Houston,Texas.

Estimates of the eventual cost of this disaster range from $105 billion up to $190 billion depending on the extent of flooding, the destruction of homes, the cost of losses to the oil drilling industry, the costs of the contamination from multiple sources.

And how do we calculate the cost of the loss of lives?

It is to be hoped that the courage and caring exhibited by the heroes who helped to save lives speaks for the enormous potential of our fellow countrymen without regard for differences.

Would that this were displayed universally after disasters.

But a number of sudden huge problems demands our concentration. It will cost humongous amounts of money to return Houston to prosperity and livability.

Will the President stop calling climate change a hoax invented by the Chinese, and will the rest of the country, because of ignorance, and the unwillingness to pay for preventive projects, admit that human activity has been liable for the destruction of our environment?

Those who make public policy should admit that the failure to foresee that the lack of planning to develop urban plans on a very large scale ultimately causes the huge problems that will cost much more to prevent or heal.

No one should be surprised that these problems have a history of reoccurrence. How stupid can we be?

We are able to generate the money for useless projects, while neglecting worthwhile ventures.

We have long-standing examples of intelligent planning or the lack thereof.

The Romans brought water to their cities by well engineered projects.

Holland, amazingly, for centuries, has fought the sea to keep their country dry, beautiful, and prosperous.

Unfortunately Venice, for centuries, had done the same, but perhaps from neglect, is again threatened.

Recently and shamefully we have seen what happens when a city, out of greed, changes the source of their water supply as in Flint, Mich.

Houston, itself, in its rush for growth has allowed dangerous industries to build facilities close to where people live.

And now, because of this catastrophic disaster, has the added concern that all this water, mixed with enormous percentages of noxious contaminants, can create an environment which does enormous harm to humans,

Ironically, the loosening of safety regulations and budgeting for administration, by the federal government, will surely have consequences.

Esther Confino

New Hyde Park


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