Judges from six counties meet to discuss Ike dike

April 20, 2010 4:55:18 PM PDT
The drive to protect the Texas coast line against storm surge took its first serious step on Tuesday. The six county judges from Brazoria to Orange counties converged to get work started on the plan.

Organizers called Tuesday a historic moment, on par with what Galveston leaders did following the great 1900 storm.

The idea is to protect everything from the beach to the refineries, and maybe protection most of all from our own forgetfulness.

There is a Bolivar Peninsula boom underway, and it's not much of a surprise to resident Murphy Bowers.

"We're a hard group to knock down, so I think it's a little faster than I thought we would," Bowers said.

But looking out on port Bolivar, Bowers realizes there isn't much to prevent it from happening again except higher homes, stronger beams and a lot of luck.

"These people feel they are 10 feet tall and bulletproof. We can survive anything," he said. "They're just building higher so the water has a tougher time reaching them."

All this building is happening about a year and a half after the storm and long before any sort of protection like the Ike Dike can be built.

The question is, has a year and a half without another storm led to a false sense of security?

"People do forget, and they don't evacuate and storms intensify rapidly," said Bill Merrell with Texas A&M Galveston.

Merrell's the guy who came up with the idea of the Ike Dike, a wall from Freeport to Beaumont to protect us from storm surge.

On Tuesday afternoon, he was at the first meeting of the Gulf Coast Community Protection and Recovery District, the six-county group that's going to figure out if we Texas can do something like that.

"Doing nothing is not an option," Galveston County judge Jim Yarbrough said.

The group will likely spend a few million state dollars to study options and recommend something that will protect - not just coastal homes, but all the important investment inland along the Ship Channel.

"It's a cheap investment when you consider the potential damage," Dannenbaum Engineering's Len Waterworth said.

This group will work to convince the feds the billions to build surge protection are needed.

They've already got Bowers' support.

"We're 32 miles long but not very deep, so there's not a lot of land," Bowers said.

The plan would obviously cost billions, and the group has no fund at all right now. But they point to New Orleans where a similar effort went from storm to billions of dollars of construction in just three years.

Load Comments