The storm shut down towns and cities. It stopped traffic and shut down businesses. It killed eight people. Winter Storm Jonas was the bear of a weather front that shut down the entire U.S. East Coast. Sounds kinda familiar, yeah?
My wife pointed out this week that last Monday was “our version of a snow day,” as Houstonians scrambled to find something to do with our kids, who suddenly didn’t have school as storms stalled out across the city. We prepared for the inevitable morning after by moving our cars to high ground, rolling up our rugs and getting them up off the floor, and stocking up on the essentials while the grocery stores were still open. We were told to stay indoors, and we prayed the internet didn’t go out.
But while our brethren to the North can make snow angels, snowmen, snow forts, and snow cones, have snow ball fights (yes, adults do this and it looks amazing) and talk about “snowmageddon” and “snowpocalypse,” what does Houston get for a day or two’s inconvenience? Underpasses that turn into swimming pools? A badge of honor for those who successfully route themselves around washed out areas on their morning commute? Mud? Humidity? As heavy rains and high water become a more frequent fact of life in the Bayou City, can’t we find ways to adapt and thrive during the deluge, rather than binge watching House of Cards (or in my household, Paw Patrol)?
By no means do I think any of us should discount the dangers of rising waters, nor the swift and terrible impact they can have on people’s lives (Houston's floods are nothing if not deadly, year after year after year). But if you’re staying safe, and can harness all that precipitation, where’s the harm in having a little fun?
How about we build an enormous, copper Colt .45 pistol in Hermann Park, with a likewise enormous funnel attached, that only spouts when rains are near-Biblical? Or a series of waterwheels up and down Buffalo Bayou that power a rope system to carry kids back up to the top of the world’s longest Slip ‘n’ Slide, running from downtown out to George Bush Park? Or on an environmentally friendly note, why not get some big ol’ rain barrels, set ‘em on Hamilton Street, and use all the run-off from the roof of Minute Maid Park to water the grass contained therein?
While these may not be the most practical, or obvious, of applications for the rain that comes with every pollen release season, you can’t tell me they’re the worst. Now all we have to do is ask Mayor Turner to find room in the budget.