What could possibly have been worse than Hurricane Ike? Super Ike, a stronger hurricane aimed 30 miles further west, causing a larger storm surge, more deaths, and significantly greater damage to Houston’s industrial infrastructure. To protect against that hypothetical $100 billion threat, a Rice University team is recommending some bolstered defenses for the region. Included among the suggestions: a “moveable gate structure” just upstream from Baytown’s Fred Hartman Bridge, to block the Ship Channel and San Jacinto River from rising waters in Galveston Bay (pictured above); elevating Hwy. 146 along the west edge of Galveston Bay so that it forms a levee protecting much of La Marque, Dickinson, League City, Clear Lake, and La Porte; a “baywall” to protect Galveston Island’s backside from sneaky storm surge waters; and preserving a 130-mile-long stretch of existing coastal wetlands between High Island and Matagorda as a recreation area and when-needed storm barrier.
Here’s what that levee along Hwy. 146 might look like:
And one alignment option for the bay-side levee to protect Galveston Island:
A map showing the recreation study area:
The study’s principal investigators, hydrologist Philip Bedient and attorney Jim Blackburn, were both part of the environmental team that planned The Woodlands 4 decades ago.
- Protecting Houston from the next big hurricane [Rice University]
- Learning the Lessons of Hurricane Ike: Preparing for the Next Big One (PDF)
Images and video: Rice University