Looking for ways to stop storm surge

August 18, 2009 8:24:23 AM PDT
Local leaders want more ideas on how to stop one of the most destructive elements of a hurricane and they're about to ask for the governor's help when it comes to protecting the coastline from damaging storm surges.It's been nearly a year since Hurricane Ike's storm surge wiped away parts of the coast and turned countless lives upside down. Now the search is on for a long term solution to strengthen the coast.

After Ike left his devastating mark last September, local leaders were left with the tough task of cleaning up his mess and coming up with ways to prevent another big blow to communities along the Texas Gulf Coast. Now they want a formal study conducted to learn the best way to hold back another storm.

Former Kemah Mayor Bill King is a member of the post-Ike committee that was formed after the storm struck last year.

"The idea that we're going to retreat out of the hurricane surge zone is frankly absurd on its face," he said. "The surge zone in a category five hurricane comes within two miles of downtown. You'll have to abandon the entire Houston Ship Channel, Johnson Space Center, everything in Galveston County. We're just not going to do that."

King says a levee system, or the multi-billion dollar 'Ike Dike' idea, are alternatives to retreating from development, but not the only possibilities.

Galveston Long Term Recovery Committee member Betty Massey explained, "Both of those deserve to be studied and analyzed, and figure out whether they would work, and would they work cost-effectively for this community."

That's where the study comes in. Officials in the most impacted counties would form a local government coalition to spearhead the study -- including Harris, Galveston, Brazoria, Orange, Chambers and Jefferson counties.

It's still unclear who would pay for the study or how much it will cost. That's a question local commissioners courts will likely consider before backing the idea.

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