Statement | Washington, D.C. | August 30, 2017

National Trust Statement on Hurricane Harvey

Statement from Stephanie Meeks, President and CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation

The following is a statement from Stephanie Meeks, president and CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation:

“Last year, the National Trust for Historic Preservation held our national preservation conference in Houston because in so many ways the Bayou City represents America’s future. Our nation’s fourth largest and most diverse major metropolis, Houston has embraced historic preservation and the importance of placemaking in recent years to ensure its distinctive and welcoming Texas character shines along its streets and neighborhoods.

“All the more reason why, like all of America, we at the Trust have been gutted by the severe flooding Houston has experienced in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. The record-breaking rain has inundated the city, swamped historic areas of Houston, and brought terror and tragedy to families’ lives this past week. We won’t know until the flooding stops how much damage Harvey has caused, but the price tag could well be in the billions, if it can even be measured in dollars at all.

”When the waters recede, we know that a city as strong, resilient, and dynamic as Houston will bounce back. Our Houston Field Office, our entire National Trust team, and preservationists across the country stand ready to aid in this effort, through clean-up, assessment, technical assistance, and doing whatever we can to help rebuild and restore the city’s many historic places and distinctive neighborhoods.

Preservation Leadership Forum: Disaster Relief Resources

Homeowners face distinct challenges in responding to natural disasters such as catastrophic flooding. While they can rely to a certain extent on local, city, and state agencies for post-disaster services, they are ultimately responsible for their own properties. These resources can help homeowners respond quickly and effectively to minimize property damage and ensure a safe return home.

“Unfortunately, Houston also now represents the future of America in another way too. As the devastating concurrent floods in India, Nepal, and Bangladesh attest, super-storms like Hurricane Harvey are expected to become more frequent in the future as the result of accelerating climate change.

“As we work to repair the terrible damage wrought by Harvey to the Bayou City, we must also take this opportunity to recommit to addressing both the causes and consequences of this unfolding global crisis. Among other strategies, we know that recycling buildings through creative adaptive reuse can help mitigate carbon emissions and reduce energy costs for cities.

“We also know that, as the result of rising temperatures and sea level rise that is now already ‘baked in,’ more flooding of coastal cities is on the way, and many cherished historic places are under significant threat. The historic seaport of Annapolis, Maryland recently became the first city in the United States to have created a cultural resource hazard adaptation and mitigation plan. We encourage other cities to follow suit, and to look for other ways to assess the probable impact of climate change on their irreplaceable historic and cultural resources. We stand ready to aid in these endeavors however we can.

“For now, we want to offer these resources and information to help citizens evaluate and address the water damage to their properties. We hope these are useful, and please know that the entire city of Houston, are in our thoughts at this difficult time.”

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The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded nonprofit organization, works to save America’s historic places.
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