“The New York Times noted in 2010 that, “More than 100 deaths occurred in New Orleans-area hospitals and nursing homes after Hurricane Katrina when emergency backup power systems failed and patients languished for days awaiting transport.”And in Houston in 2001, Tropical Storm Allison caused $5.5 billion in damage to the Houston area. It deposited up to 30 feet of water into parts of the then lightly protected Texas Medical Center.
However, emergency experts in charge of the complex and its flagship facilities say that that can’t happen again.
Subtle protective precautions aren’t obvious to the casual visitor or patient. The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston’s buildings are now guarded by little-noticed earthen berms. Its first-floor windows are hardened aquarium glass. The lower structural walls are built with a dam-like, “hydrostatic” composite. Below, hidden pumps lie under steel grates just outside each structure waiting to rapidly transport rainwater into the a nearby gully.
Should that watercourse bayou itself prove inadequate to accommodate flood waters, a huge pipe, buried beneath a major arterial street, will accept and divert the excess. And almost two dozen watertight, submarine-style hatches are hidden in plain sight. Each, sized to accommodate a hulking superhero, is designed to hold back tons of rising water.”