New tool helps greater Houston area homeowners evaluate storm risks

A storm appears to be brewing in Houston - one that could positively impact people's decisions to move to this city. Those who invest in the homes for sale in Houston can take advantage of an innovative storm assessment tool developed by city officials and Rice University. 

The Houston Chronicle reports that local residents can access a Storm Risk Calculator, a website that provides Harris County residents a way to evaluate their hurricane risks during a storm. Texas' 2012 hurricane season began June 1, and this online tool gives locals the opportunity to assess the potential damage a storm could cause, giving them time to prepare.

According to the news outlet, a Category 4 hurricane could potentially damage nearly 800,000 homes and 50,000 commercial buildings in Harris County. However, the Storm Risk Calculator could help thousands of homeowners, as it was designed to help prevent the same type of mass reaction that followed Hurricane Rita in 2005.

Dennis Storemski, director of Houston's Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security, told the news source that the greater Houston area could immediately reap the benefits of this digital tool.

"It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when," Storemski said.

Take a look at how the Storm Risk Calculator works:

The Storm Risk Calculator Pre-Survey gives users the opportunity to evaluate whether their home is at-risk for various hazards. It examines wind damage, problems caused by storm surges and/or rainfall flooding and power loss. Residents can state if they feel there is low,  moderate or high risk for safety issues, and may address their safety concerns by entering their home zip code.

Harris County residents can provide their street address to further evaluate their risk level. After adding this information, they can view areas near their residence that could be subject to severe storm risks.

The post-survey allows locals to offer information to others in the area. Residents can measure the accuracy of the data, as they may provide direct feedback that could influence the tool's future. Adding comments or suggestions and submitting the survey gives the city the chance to track this information, which might help them improve operations during storms.