Beach erosion is a problem that doesn't really sound all that menacing. It sounds more like a temporary problem rather than a serious, permanent issue. Perhaps it needs a scarier name to get people's attention. Because when you're looking at the statistics explaining just what kind of damage it is doing, particularly to Galveston, it's jaw-dropping.
Hurricane Ike, which was five years ago this summer, cost parts of Galveston Island more than 100 feet of shoreline alone. The entire Texas coastline is at risk with 64 percent of the Texas coast losing an average of six feet per year to erosion with some areas losing as much as 25 feet per year. The average front-of-house driveway is around 25 feet long. Imagine that last year your driveway was beach and this year it's in the ocean.
That's pretty dire.
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Tim Dellapenna, an associate professor of marine studies at Texas A&M at Galveston, said in a release that Ike did what normally takes 65 years through natural erosion. He believes Galveston is ground zero for serious erosion problems in Texas.
"From the West End all the way down to Galveston State Park, that's an area that is especially prone to erosion," Dellapenna said. "We know from records that over 500 feet of beach in some of those areas have been lost just since 1960.
At this rate, entire portions of the west end of Galveston Island, an extremely popular area for new home development, could be under water in the next 20 years
Unfortunately, there are few solutions to the problem. Geotubes -- hollow tubes under the sand beneath native plants -- have been successful on the bay side of the island, but have created more problems on the Gulf side. Additional efforts will have to be made to ensure large portions of Galveston Island stay above the reach of the ocean.