Group Talks Multibillion Coastal Barrier We Hope We Don't Need (but Probably Do)
For a few billion this too could be shored up against a storm surge.
Photo by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Earlier this month the Bay Area Coastal Protection Alliance met to discuss a plan that would keep us (and our energy industry) from going underwater in the event of a catastrophic storm surge. Unfortunately, according to storm watchers, the Gulf Coast is likely to get hit by a major storm every 15 years or so.
"In 2008, Hurricane Ike caused loss of life and more than $35 billion (to date) in property and environmental damage, even without a direct hit," Vic Pierson, vice president of the alliance said in a statement. "The original forecast predicted 25-foot storm surges that could have killed hundreds, left thousands homeless and jobless and caused economic damage around $100 billion."
The group's proposal is to build a multi-billion dollar coastal barrier system, one that includes specially constructed sand dunes.
A levee system idea borrowed from the Netherlands would cover High Island to San Luis Pass. Those dunes would work with the Galveston Seawall and link with surge barriers at San Luis Pass and Bolivar Road, leading into the Houston Ship Channel and Galveston Bay, the group says. A gate system would control water flow into the bay. In theory, you know.
So who much would this all cost? The barrier system, according to organizers would be between $5 billion and $10 billion. It would take two years to complete the project after the government kicks in about 85 percent, with the rest of us coming together for the additional 15 percent.
We'll see how that fed money pans out.
For now, we're left with this doomsday scenario, courtesy of the BACPA:
Based on a study from the Independent Insurance Agents of Texas, a direct hit from a hurricane to the Houston-Galveston region would cost $73 billion in gross state product, more than 863,000 jobs and $2.5 billion in annual state revenue. The storm could decimate the Port of Houston, which is the busiest U.S. port in terms of foreign tonnage and second busiest in overall tonnage. The storm could obliterate the nation's largest petrochemical complex, which supplies 40 percent of the America's fuel and 60 percent of its specialty military fuel.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Houston Press' biggest stories.