ARMY CORPS’ FIRST PUBLIC IKE DIKE DISCUSSION IS TOMORROW
Tomorrow, the Army Corps will hold a public meeting in Port Lavaca about the Ike Dike it proposed last month. The meeting — the first of 6 planned between now and April — will give the agency an in-person opportunity to defend the modeling system underlying its $30 billion recommendations, which took some heat earlier this month from Rice U. scientists who claimed it didn’t take into account all those 100-year events that keep happening every few years. Since then, the Corps has told the Chronicle’s Nick Powell that isn’t true, adding that numerous key tweaks have brought the system up to date from FEMA’s earlier model, used in flood insurance mapping projects. The public comment period for the proposal remains open until mid-January. [Houston Chronicle ($); previously on Swamplot]
SNEAKING A PEEK AT THE BIG WALLS, BIG GATES ARMY CORPS COULD PROPOSE FOR THE COAST LATER THIS MONTH
On October 26, the agency will single out one of the 4 big proposals it’s been pondering for the Texas coast as the chosen one, reports the Texas Tribune’s Kiah Collier. One of them “calls for the construction of a 17-foot-high levee along the entirety of Galveston Island,” as well as Bolivar Peninsula. Ring any bells? It’s the so-called Ike Dike (also known as the “coastal spine”) that A&M scientists dreamed up about a decade ago in response to the disaster and hypothetically-even-worse disaster that could’ve occurred if Ike had struck 30 miles further west. Another defense against that doomsday scenario that could make it into the proposal: a giant gate structure adapted from Rice’s Jim Blackburn and Philip Bedient’s 2011 idea for a mechanism that’d close before storms to block surge. (They wanted to put it just upstream from the Fred Hartman Bridge; the Corps has number of different spots in mind.) All the plans in the running include a so-called ring levee around Galveston’s bay side to protect it from reverse storm surge, a helping of smaller levees and gates, upgrades to existing flood control structures, and ecosystem restoration projects geared toward creating natural floodwater-fighting barriers. [Texas Tribune; previously on Swamplot] Map indicating proposed Alternative A plan: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
WAIT, DID THE 2008 RECESSION UP THE CHANCES OF A FUTURE HOUSTON CHEMICAL CATASTROPHE? Roy Scranton imagines “a wave of water sweeping toxic waste into playgrounds, shops and houses” in Magnolia Park in his op-ed this morning, written after touring the Ship Channel and speaking with the local A&M and Rice research teams pushing for variations on a series of region-scale coastal barriers to hunker down behind whenever the next gigantic hurricane hits the Houston region, in hopes of avoiding deadly flooding and catastrophic chemical spills. But the researchers tell Scranton that pushing for federal and state funding for a response is a slow endeavor; Jim Blackburn (a main player on the Rice team) tells Scranton that he’s “heard more than one person say our plan is to wait until the next hurricane comes, then depend on guilt money from Washington to fix the problem.” Scranton writes that the best chance for that guilt money so far might have been in 2008, when Hurricane Ike landed just 30 miles northeast of the zone that modelers say could have caused thousands of deaths and irreparable ecological devastation to the area, on September 13th — 2 days before the Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy, pulling global attention and national funds to other issues as markets began to crash. [NY Times; previously on Swamplot] Model maps of potential storm surge flooding along the ship channel, with chemical storage marked in red: Texas Tribune
KING READY TO LAUNCH 700-YEAR WAR Will the new Gulf Coast Community Protection and Recovery District be leading the battle to build a 60-mile-long “Ike Dike” to gate off Galveston Bay from hurricane storm surges? “I think there’s a growing consensus that something’s got to be done,” board member and former Kemah mayor Bill King tells Eric Berger: “Whatever gets done, says King . . . it’s important not to view it as a magic bullet.
‘I think it’s a big mistake to think about this issue as a single project,’ he said.
‘One thing I learned from the Dutch is that they’ve been doing this for 700 years. We’re starting a war, trying to hold back Galveston Bay from inundating the area, that’s never going to end.’” [Houston Chronicle]