U.S.–Taiwan Workshop on Flood Mitigation Strategies
In the last decade, destructive and deadly hurricanes have damaged infrastructure and thousands of people’s houses, as well as resulting in casualties in many cities of the United States. Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005, Hurricane Sandy hit the east coast of the US in 2012, and the most recent, Hurricane Harvey, took place last year. The impact of each of these natural disasters was immense, including flooding in particular.
Hurricane Harvey brought a week of continuous precipitation and almost the entire city of Houston was submerged in water, just a week before schools were scheduled to open for the new academic year. Donations from around the world and government relief funds helped many of those affected to rebuild and quickly recover from the disaster. But many are still suffering financially and aren’t yet back on their feet in the wake of the historical “500-year” floods caused by Harvey.
Being a part of the Houston community and in an effort to prevent a similar disaster from happening again, the Education Division of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in Houston worked with the University of Houston at Sugar Land, the University of Houston at Katy, and the Southern News Group to organize a seminar for Taiwanese scholars and experts in civil, environmental, and hydraulic engineering, and U.S. government officials and local authorities to discuss flooding mitigation strategies and plans. The seminar was held on May 14, 2018 at the International Trade Center in Houston and aired on the local news channel and the internet.
Professor Lee Hong-Yuan from National Taiwan University spoke about successful flood mitigation strategies that were implemented in Taiwan during his former government tenure as Minister of the Interior in Taiwan, such as collaboration between government agencies and urban landscaping. His NTU colleagues Dr. Ho Hao-Che, and Dr. You Yiing-Yun, and Dr. Wang Keh-Han, a professor at the University of Houston, joined him for the presentation. U.S. Congressman John Culberson, Stacia Johnson, Director of Community Planning Development (CPD) of the U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) also took part in the seminar and spoke about the distribution of the hurricane relief funds by the State and Federal government.
Approximately fifty people, including personnel from TECO in Houston, community leaders, scholars, experts, local universities professors, and future hydrologists, participated in the seminar to learn from past experience and find effective ways to minimize the powerful impact of mother nature in the future.
PHOTO: Dr. Jay Neal, Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs and Chief Operating Officer at UH–Sugar Land and Katy, answering questions from College of Engineering students at the University of Houston.