Photo: Jon Shapley, Staff Photographer / Staff Photographer
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After a tumultuous week grappling with the threat from Hurricane Laura, Texas leaders have renewed their call to build the Ike Dike, which would serve as a formidable coastal barrier. The need for a coastal spine has never been more urgent, according to Texas A&M’s Professor William Merrell.
“There have really been no real improvements or progress to prevent hurricane damage since Ike hit,” Merrell told Texas A&M Today
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner echoed his concerns in a press conference Wednesday as Laura’s threat loomed.
“It was a very close call for us,” Hidalgo said.
“Can you imagine that being in the Galveston Bay and storm surge being 30 miles in?” Turner asked.
Hidalgo further elaborated on the need for the Ike Dike in her statement to Houston on Thursday.
“It shouldn’t take a near miss of a catastrophic hurricane to force our national leaders to recognize the urgency of investing in flood infrastructure, including a coastal barrier for Galveston Bay,” Hidalgo said in the statement.
The Ike Dike was proposed three years after Hurricane Ike and would bolster and extend the Galveston seawall, adding levees and building enormous gates that would close off Galveston Bay from the storm surge, according to Merrell. It was the brainchild of Merrell, and it was modeled after a Delta Works project in The Netherlands, according to Texas A&M. It could prevent costly damage from the devastation of hurricane storm surge.
A 71-mile barrier system of levees and gates that resembled the Ike Dike was proposed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 2018. One barrier to its construction is the cost, which was estimated to be in the $30 billion range in the latest assessment from the Army Corps of Engineers, according to the Houston Chronicle.
However, if a Category 5 storm were to make a direct hit on the Galveston-Houston area, the storm’s devastation could result in $73 billion in damages, according to the Perryman Report.
Several people echoed Hidalgo’s concern about the need for the Ike Dike.
“What can we do? @JohnCornyn @TedCruz @lizzyfletch658 We should have funded after a Harvey.” Annie the Tweetie posted on Twitter.
“And where do you suggest that money come from? Defense? Infrastructure? Tax raises? Steven Westbrook tweeted.