Early news reports from southeast Texas suggest healthcare facilities weathered Hurricane Harvey far better than their counterparts in New Orleans in 2005 or New York and New Jersey in 2012 when they were hit by hurricanes.
More than a decade of rising awareness about the need for emergency preparedness, which began in southeast Texas after Tropical Storm Allison in 2001, appears to have paid off.
During Harvey, which dumped an unprecedented 50 inches of rain on parts of the region, loss of life at medical facilities was kept to a minimum. There were just a handful of hospital closings. And resupply coordination proceeded relatively smoothly.
But this is no time for congratulatory backslapping. This was Houston's third "500-year flood" in three years. Last summer, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recorded eight such 500-year events in the previous 15 months.
It's not just Atlantic Ocean-facing areas stretching from the Gulf of Mexico to Maine that are vulnerable. Unprecedented deluges flooded parts of Missouri in 2011 and West Virginia in 2016.
As Congress returns from its summer break, its members will be asked to pass an aid package to help Texas recover. Early estimates suggest the cost will easily surpass the $51 billion appropriated after Superstorm Sandy.
Given the frequency of these major aid packages, a debate about the bill's structure is in order. It should include incentives to discourage homes and businesses from building in vulnerable flood plains, for instance. Greater attention should be paid to preserving wetlands and re-engineering drainage systems.
But given the political realities of 2017, especially in laissez-faire Texas, such measures are unlikely. Even if included, they wouldn't have an immediate effect. Millions of people will be rebuilding homes that will remain vulnerable to the next major catastrophe.
That's why it's vital that the legislation include more help for institutions such as hospitals, nursing homes and other healthcare facilities to continue hardening their infrastructures-by building flood walls; moving utilities to high floors; and creating cloud-based patient record databanks, for instance. These institutions, like schools, roads and utilities, will go where the people are.