EnvironmentalInstituteofHouston 29 Who’s Minding the Planet? HEADLINE HURRICANE ZONE Hurricane Harvey Hits On August 25, 2017, Hurricane Harvey made landfall on the Texas coast. This record-shattering storm battered southeastern Texas for several days before moving inland, causing billions of dollars in damage and catastrophic flooding that impacted thousands. “Prior to [Hurricane Harvey] making landfall, both streams were in typical summer base-flow conditions. We didn't remove any equipment because the storm appeared to be heading much further south…we weren't expecting any major impact from the storm other than rainfall,” states Oakley. “Yet, in less than four days, the region received over 127 cm (50 inches) of rain – or approximately an average year of rainfall. My home was flooded and other staff at the Institute experienced the intense flooding as well. The following week we were able to make it back to work, but still weren't able to reach any of our sites.” Within 30 hours after the hurricane hit, both monitoring stations were above flood stage with Oyster Creek peaking at over7.9meters(26feet)andCaneyCreekabove7meters(23feet). The roads to the monitoring sites were flooded for weeks, but the team could see that the sites were still active. "I had been checking the real-time data and they looked reasonable," Oakley continues. “I felt confident in what the state of equipment would be when we got out there. I also knew what the flood stage level was, so I knew we had surpassed those thresholds by just looking at the data.” Oakley and her team were relieved knowing the instruments at the monitoring locations were still functioning, but, unfortunately, the surrounding areas were not as lucky. “Every single home that you drove past going to and from the [Oyster Creek] site had mountains of people’s possessions piled along the flooded streets,” she recalls. “Drywall and flooring… furniture and mattresses…everything from their home, out along the street… the entire area was severely impacted. The houses directly next to our site all had some sort of damage from the flood. At a certain point I became a little numb to it because I saw devastation in every direction.” Resource for Residents Oakley and the University of Houston Telecommunications Department are working together to develop a page on the university website that will allow landowners in the area to see real-time gauge height and discharge measurements for nearby waterways. "There are some landowners that I had contact with in the direct vicinity of our monitoring stations that have a second home or use the land as rangeland for cattle and they wanted to know what was happening," Oakley explained. "I know that our data were also used by a family much further downstream to make the decision whether or not to evacuate [during Harvey]." They were watching the gauge height in real-time to decide whether it looked like the water would get very much higher. Luckily, it ended up not flooding in their area and people were able to stay in their homes, especially because traveling at that time could have been dangerous.” The Environmental Institute of Houston continues to maintain these sites and report the gauge level data to the public. Real- time discharge data will be available to the public soon at EIH’s website—thanks to a scientist with a creative mind and genuine concern for local residents. “This is a great resource - to have our finger on the pulse of our watershed,” she added. “Especially in a situation like this where it was an extreme event and lives and property were at stake." Environmental Institute of Houston www.eih.uhcl.edu Rushin to the Rescue Coastal systems can present challenges at monitoring sites like Oyster and Caney Creek. The Environmental Institute of Houston turned to Xylem partner Randy Rushin to assist with the selection and installation of the Amazon Bubbler. Oakley and her team rely on the Amazon to generate real-time baseline data for discharge at sites. Low-power, E-ink paper display with anti-sun glare technology. Rugged aluminum housing with bumpers provide protection. Capacitive touch buttons offer moisture-free performance. The Amazon includes: Learn More: YSI.com/Amazon