HOUSTON (AP) — As Houston confronts the particular immediate and long-term crisis developed by Hurricane Harvey, it’s turning once more to an oilman.
The choice of previous Shell president Marvin Odum in order to advise the mayor on thunderstorm recovery efforts reflects Houston’s background as a Texas oil town, a long time before it became the nation’s fourth-largest town with a sprawling mix of skyscrapers plus multiethnic strip malls on the Gulf.
Several oil companies are headquartered within Houston, and oil money assisted build its downtown, its most expensive neighborhoods and its cultural centers.
One of the greatest challenges facing Odum, an indigenous Houstonian, in his job as recuperation officer will be pushing Houston far from its roots as a city which is long chosen development over preservation, paving over critical wetlands to generate way for new buildings. Some recommends working on those causes wonder whether or not someone from the city’s most powerful attention can get leaders to make better options for the future.
“The decisions that Houston makes about how it develops later on are going to be decisions that affect companies, and I hope that a businessman could make those tough calls, ” mentioned Brian Zabcik, an advocate on the group Environment Texas.
Houston provides flooded each of the last three years, even though Harvey caused unprecedented damage in several neighborhoods, storms in 2015 plus 2016 also displaced people plus destroyed hundreds of homes. And Houston’s proximity to the Gulf of Mexico, combined with the associated with climate change, make it a certainty that will life-threatening weather will remain a risk.
The problem has worsened because Houston lost a third of its wetlands within the last three decades, reducing places for rain to settle before flooding.
In launching Odum’s appointment, Mayor Sylvester Turner acknowledged the city has to change just how it develops and that it has to purchase mitigation projects that could cost vast amounts of dollars. He said he wished Odum would help create modify and not just produce “a report” informing him what to do.
“There will be one more storm. That is very, very clear, inch Turner said. “The question is going to be whether or not we will take advantage of this instant to put us in a better place for the next storm that will certainly come. ”
Turner cited Odum’s experience at Shell, where he proved helpful more than 30 years and rose in order to president of the Dutch conglomerate’s American operations.
Odum led Shell via a disaster of similar magnitude, the particular 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, for the offshore rig owned by BP exploded and killed 11 individuals. Millions of gallons of oil spewed into the Gulf for 87 times, destroying wildlife and disrupting the particular lives of thousands of people across the coast. The U. S. govt ordered a moratorium on deep-water drilling in the Gulf for 6 months, shutting down a major element of Shell’s business.
Under Odum’s leadership, Covering sent its experts and products to help respond to the spill, stated Bill Tanner, the company’s former mind of media relations. Shell has been among the first companies to be allowed to continue deep-water drilling almost a year following the spill.
Tanner said he viewed Odum meeting with several executives associated with rival oil companies before they will testified before Congress about the leak, in a hearing carried on national tv. He said he saw Odum’s efforts to “bring down tensions” between the executives with a low tone of voice.
“He brings a calming influence in order to otherwise chaotic situations, and he really does so with a great deal of decorum and courtesy, ” Tanner said.
Turner stated Odum was preparing to start a new company venture when he called requesting help, and that Odum put aside that will venture. Odum will not receive an income in his new position. He has your office at City Hall and is currently taking meetings with city sections and officials from other agencies, which includes John Sharp, who was appointed the particular state’s recovery czar.
At the information conference announcing his appointment, Odum stood to Turner’s side plus deferred to the mayor on most queries. He declined an interview request from your Associated Press, but in written reactions to questions sent by e-mail, said he was working “nearly around the clock” already.
He says that even though the city already has “very solid capabilities, ” Harvey has shown challenges on a “vastly different range. ”
Odum said Houston’s the majority of immediate challenge include removing particles piled on neighborhood lawns throughout the city, repairing infrastructure and ensuring recovery money goes to “building an even more resilient Houston that can better weather conditions future natural disasters. ”
This individual did not specify how the city might accomplish that. But people who have analyzed Houston’s flood control system — a network of bayous plus reservoirs that are meant to drain the city built on flat ground – say much of it is years old and in dire need associated with expansion. City and county authorities have also talked about buying out house owners in areas that are especially vulnerable to flooding.
“These are not easy options and it will be critical to include an extensive spectrum of interests, ” Odum said.
Houston and the rest of the Tx Gulf Coast are expected to receive many billions of dollars in federal catastrophe funding, with more help coming from local government and nonprofit groups.
But exactly how that money is spent plus whether city officials can affect alter remains to be seen.
“He knows what it takes, inch said Kara Cook, toxics plan director at the Texas Public Attention Research Group. “Is he likely to hold his former colleagues responsible to new regulations, and to much better prepare Houston for disasters? inch
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