Hurricanes: Rice Says Ike Was Nothing

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Just in time for hurricane season, a group created in the wake of Ike has issued a report that should be entitled "The Bejesus, And Scaring It Out Of You."

Remember Ike and how much that sucked? Destruction in Galveston, no electricity in Houston, all that? Rice's SSPEED (Severe Storm Prediction, Education and Evacuation from Disasters Center) says we got off easy.

Their report lays out the grim Ike stats and then says despite all that damage...

the Galveston/Houston region is fortunate. If Hurricane Ike had hit 30 to 50 miles down the coast, the devastation would have been remarkable; the cost could easily have exceeded $100 billion and hundreds might have died, as was the case with Katrina. The SSPEED team is concerned that the threat represented by the storm surge has not been fully appreciated or incorporated into our thinking about settlement patterns around Galveston Bay.

So if you see a Category 4 bearing down, just leave town, right?

Not so fast:

The mass movement of the estimated one million people that live in the evacuation zones is a challenge for existing emergency evacuation corridors. Furthermore, it does not appear that future transportation projects will be able to adequately support the current population nor the projected population growth of 500,000 people.

So it's Rita all over again.

Oh, and 65 percent of the bridges in Galveston County are particularly susceptible to hurricane damage.

SSPEED -- a group which includes Jim Blackburn, the noted environmental lawyer -- says it is iinterested in getting authorities better prepared for the Big One, not just scaring people with talk about the Ship Channel being closed for a month, causing a $60 billion hit tothe U.S. economy.

"It is clear that the choices we make in the next several years will have a direct and significant impact on the physical form of Upper Texas coast -- the location and style of land development, the extent of natural areas, and the extent of recreational resources," the report concludes. "At the least, these decisions should be made with full information about alternative approaches and relative economic, environmental and social costs of those alternatives."

And if that takes scaring some people, they're willing to do it.

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