The Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership’s International Maritime Advisory Committee (IMAC) endorses the concept of a regional storm surge suppression system. A storm surge suppression system is essential to protect the industries, citizens, and communities in the Houston/Galveston region and to preserve the region’s coastal ecosystem.
A new coastal barrier system could be developed using manmade sand dunes (revetments covered with sand and natural grasses) along the length of the coast connecting to the existing Galveston Seawall. Bolivar Roads and San Luis Pass could be protected by large moveable flood gates that would be closed in the hours before landfall of the storm but would not impact shipping or the ecology of the bay when open. A coastal barrier stops the ocean surge at the coast where it is smallest (about 17 ft.). If left unchecked, the storm surge would fill up Galveston Bay with a massive amount of water and the wind and water behind it would push the surge to slosh up to 24 ft. or higher causing significant damage to property, sensitive ecosystems, and the loss of human life.
The storm surge suppression system currently under serious study is termed the “Ike Dike,” a name derived from Hurricane Ike, which made landfall in Galveston, Texas, on September 13, 2008. The “Ike Dike” system was developed by Texas A&M University–Galveston’s Dr. Bill Merrell. This concept is directly modeled from other technologies successfully installed around the world -- including in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, St. Petersburg, Russia, along the Thames River in London, England, and in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Ike Dike could be built using existing, proven technology such as the gates and barriers currently used in the Delta Works project located in the Netherlands. Texas A&M University - Galveston is working closely with experts in the Netherlands who are the world leaders in storm surge suppression.
The Houston/Galveston area is home to the largest and most important concentration of petroleum refining and petrochemical processing plants in the United States, and the Port of Houston is the second-busiest port in the nation. The region is hit by a major hurricane about every 15 years. Hurricane Ike caused approximately $30 billion in damages, loss of life and considerable damage to the natural environment, yet it was not nearly as destructive as future hurricanes could be.
The Perryman Report estimates that a “Katrina-like” storm would cause aggregate losses to the Texas economy of $73 billion in gross product, $61.3 billion in income and 863,000 jobs while causing an enormous amount of damage to the economy of the United States, as well.
The federal government provided $15 billion to entirely fund the restoration and improvements to the New Orleans levee and dam barrier systems after Hurricane Katrina. It is estimated that an Ike Dike solution for Galveston Bay would cost about $5 billion to construct.
A world class research team led by Texas A&M-Galveston will conduct studies to evaluate the technical details of the Ike Dike to ensure the proper analysis and homework is completed to determine the proper storm surge suppression system to propose going forward. The economics of the project showing the cost-benefit ratio is led by University of Houston/Dr. Bill Gilmer from the Institute for Regional Forecasting. Storm Surge modeling is being conducted by Dr. Robert Whalin from the Homeland Security Center of Excellence at Jackson State and Dr. Ty Wamsley from USACE/Eng Research & Development Center. The barrier design is being assisted by Dr. Bas Jonkman and Dr. Mathjis van Ledden from Delft Technical University in the Netherlands. Overall Flood Risk Reduction and project coordination is being led by Dr. Bill Merrell and Dr. Sam Brody from Texas A&M Galveston.
Presentation given by Texas A&M-Galveston/Dr. Bill Merrell to a
Community Advisory Council Meeting for Texas City and La Marque on March
Presentation on Ike Dike. This version has some modeling conducted by University of Texas showing the surge resulting from Ike and predicting the reduction in surge that would have resulted by Ike if the Ike Dike had been in place.
Presentation on Ike Dike. This version has additional information on the number of chemical plants that were shut down during Ike and the percentage of the U.S. capacity that they provide.
This presentation documents the visit by the Texas Delegation to the Netherlands in September 2012. The various forms of coastal protection utilized by the Netherlands are shown as is the way they are incorporated into the natural landscape.
This presentation documents the visit by the Texas Delegation to the New Orleans in March 2012. The forms of coastal protection put in place in New Orleans is reviewed.