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Two flood prevention plans presented at Precinct 2 community meeting

Storm Surge Panel answering questions: L – R: Col. Len Waterworth- Texas A&M Galveston, Tony Williams Senior Director of Planning Coastal Resources Division Texas General Land Office, Dr. Kelly Burks-Copes, US Army Corps of Engineer Project Manager for the Coastal Texas Protection and Restoration Study, Engineer Jim Blackburn representing Rice University’s Severe Storm Prediction, Education & Evacuation from Disasters (SSPEED) Center. (Photo by Allan Jamail)

By Allan Jamail

San Jacinto College – Central Campus, Pasadena, Texas – Wednesday, May 15, 2019 – Adrian Garcia, Precinct 2 Harris County Commissioner sponsored a meeting to inform and obtain feedback from the communities from Galveston to Houston on the newest studies and proposals for Hurricane protection.

There were two separate plans presented, one long term plan by the US Army Corps of Engineers costing from $23 to $32 billion. This plan is presently in the Study Phase, once the study is completed in about 2021 Congress then must approve the funding for the Design Phase which will take 4 or 5 years. The Construction Phase could start in about 2025 if Congress approves the funding. The construction is estimated to take 10 to 15 years with completion in year’s 2035 to 2040.

The second plan was explained by Engineer Jim Blackburn representing Rice University’s Severe Storm Prediction, Education & Evacuation from Disasters (SSPEED) Center, Charlie Penland, of Walter P. Moore Engineering and Robert M. Rogers, of Rogers Partners.

Blackburn said their plan named the Galveston Bay Park Plan is different from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plan to build 71 miles of barriers along the Texas coast and instead their proposal is for a 25-foot-high wall running across Galveston Bay and barrier islands. He said construction could start almost immediately and completed by year 2027 with a total cost of $3 to $5 billion.

Blackburn wants to use the current dredging spoils from deepening and widening the Houston Ship Channel to build-up land barriers islands along the storm surge routes to lessen flooding inland from Galveston to Houston.

Commissioner Garcia, whose county precinct includes many of the communities along Galveston Bay and the ship channel, said, “Hurricane protection is one of my top priorities, that’s why in the beginning of my first term I’m moving forward to get some progress started. For years we’ve heard so many times how something should be done, but we never see any progress. It’s now time we must begin making progress before we’re hit again without any protection.”

Garcia expressed his excitement on the Galveston Bay Park Plan because of how quickly it could be built. He hoped the New Orleans’s levees and gates could be a model for the Houston-Galveston Region.

The Storm Surge Panel answered questions from the 200 plus standing room only attendees in the college’s music hall.

Recovery costs for Hurricane Ike in 2008 was $38 billion, and in 2017, Hurricane Harvey, which didn’t hit Houston directly, had a recovery cost is $125 billion because of the 4 feet of rain that fell over a few days and flooded the city with places reporting 12 to 15 feet deep.