Are we prepared for a major storm? Rice researchers provide update Galveston Bay Park Plan

Pooja Lodhia Image
Thursday, October 5, 2023
New Galveston plan proposed to protect area from another storm surge
The Galveston Bay Park Plan would create a chain of barrier islands aimed at protecting the area from another storm surge along with the Ike Dike.

GALVESTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Hurricane Ike hit in 2008, with waves easily overtopping the 17-foot Galveston seawall and showing all of us in southeast Texas our own vulnerability.

Coincidentally enough, Cowboy Stadium was also being built in 2008. And that iconic structure is what's now inspiring a new storm surge plan.

"That's just the largest deploying arch that we have in existence close to the scale and with this similar deployment mechanism," engineer Melanie Galantino explained.

You've probably heard of the Ike Dike, which would provide an intricate gate system between Galveston Island and Bolivar Peninsula to close off the bay from the Gulf of Mexico.

While waiting for Ike Dike funding, Houston City Council members are working with Rice University researchers on the Galveston Bay Park Plan.

"We're looking at a project that has navigation improvement, flood protection, public recreation, and environmental protection built into it. These are hard things to design well," Jim Blackburn, the co-director of Rice University's Severe Storm Prevention, Education and Evacuation from Disaster, said. "They're also incredibly important for the future with climate change."

RELATED: Ike Dike coastal barrier now expected to cost of up to $57 billion due to inflation, Army Corps says

Hurricane Ike made landfall 15 years ago. ABC13 revisits the lessons learned from the storm with the hope of being better prepared for the next one.

The Galveston Bay Park Plan would focus on the areas farther up into the Houston Ship Channel, creating a chain of barrier islands that would double as park space and a storm surge barrier.

Retractable gates would be built between the islands and across the ship channel, ready to be closed if a storm starts brewing.

"We are so vulnerable to hurricane surge flooding," Blackburn said. "We have been so fortunate. We haven't had a direct hit in the many years I've lived here. We've come close, Ike was close."

The proposal is still in its early stages. How much it would cost or where the money would come from is still unknown.

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SEE ALSO: Galveston Bay Park would complement proposed coastal barrier