Sometimes the best ideas are the hardest to achieve.
For instance, for well more than a 100 years, residents on Galveston Island have known that devastating hurricanes are a real threat; maybe not this year or the next or the next. But, as nature does tend to do, hurricanes will come calling on the Gulf of Mexico yearly. Whether the hurricane will make a stop in Miami, New Orleans, Charlotte, N.C., or Galveston is something only Mother Nature can know.
More than 100 years ago, after the devastating 1900 Storm, Galveston built a seawall, raised the island more than 10 feet and took steps to ensure that storm would not be the template for the destruction of a city.
So, how far have really come since then in preparing for storms yet to come?
Almost a decade after hurricanes Rita and Katrina destroyed homes and lives, not to mention the economy, along the Gulf Coast, there was the germ of an idea to provide a protective barrier to counter similar storms. The idea gained some momentum, but seems to have stalled — yet again — by hurricanes not being an immediate threat this current month, and the issue can be discussed later.
In the national and, truly in the statewide view, after floodwaters recede and blue tarps are placed on the roofs of houses, that somehow, magically, life for those in the path of a hurricane returns to normal.
We, as well as our fellow residents in New Orleans or Puerto Rico, know that is not the case.
For as business people and residents in Galveston County can attest, even almost a decade after Hurricane Ike slammed ashore in 2008, many state and federal aid packages are still winding their way through the myriad red tape that ties up the government.
We have an idea we wish lawmakers and future politicians would consider.
Why not be proactive? Give the plan for a barrier — some would call it an Ike Dike, which is curious seeing that Hurricane Ike struck about a decade ago — a serious look. In the long run, it might not only serve to save lives, but also could be economically practical, considering that many of the major refineries are in the area.
But hurricanes are not a one-size, fits-all proposition. With Hurricane Harvey we saw the opposite of hurricanes Rita, Katrina and Ike.
Hurricane Harvey did not slam into the county and move northward in a day or so. It hung around like an unwanted guest.
Harvey’s rain and ensuring floods did, in too many respects, as much damage as the hurricanes of a decade earlier.
For the past three months, residents in the mid-to-north part of the county are just beginning to even start looking at the rebuilding process.
And that process can be painful to both residents and lawmakers.
Last month, League City officials said they would begin enforcing strict ordinances on where property owners can build and how they do it in the aftermath of Harvey, or else the city can become ineligible to participate in the National Flood Insurance Program.
Painful for the officials to say and enforce, yes. Painful for the residents to do, yes.
But understanding that we live on the Gulf Coast is not painful. It is a fact of life.
It’s easy to take a deep breath and utter a sigh of relief after a hurricane leaves. The hard part is preparing for the next one.
• Dave Mathews