The Emotional Toll of Flooding Lingers

As we enter the mid-September height of the 2019 hurricane season, Rice University reveal a post-Harvey study of the emotional and psychological effects of repeated flooding in Houston.

Anthropology professor Dr. Dominic Boyer says after their first flood experience some residents might remain resilient, but that wanes after the second flood, or the third, as residents in the Green and Brays Bayous have endured. “There is a very important emotional and human dimension to the flood recovery process. We often think of this in terms of infrastructure, creating flood detention and widening bayous, and all of that is really important.” But it is the human element, he argues, that is often overlooked. 62% of flood victims surveyed are staying put in their flooded homes because of emotional attachments to their neighborhood, but 20% admit they've suffered PTSD, depression and anxiety. Boyer finds people put their greatest faith in advice they receive from people they know as opposed to politicians and city officials.

More than 135,000 homes in the Houston area flooded or suffered damage during Hurricane Harvey. Many of those homes, including Meyerland, had been flooded the previous year by the Tax Day flood, and the year before that by the Memorial Day flood.