We live in Timber Cove in Taylor Lake Village. We love living on the Upper Galveston Bay estuaries for many reasons — the birds, the fish, the waterfront and the community.

But Taylor Lake Village and other nearby coastal communities like El Lago and Nassau Bay preserve a unique piece of American history as well, as they are the original neighborhoods built in the 1960s and home to many NASA engineers and astronauts who supported and flew Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and space shuttle missions.

In 2008, Hurricane Ike produced an 11 1/2-foot storm surge in Taylor Lake. Our house, with an elevation now 10 feet above sea level, flooded with a foot-and-a-half of water, causing major disruption to our lives and considerable expense. Many of our neighbors fared much worse, with their homes destroyed.

When our house was built in 1965, it was 15 feet above sea level. Had the same storm surge occurred then, the house would not have flooded. What happened? The land subsided because of groundwater pumping for industrial use. And when it was recognized that this groundwater pumping caused such a serious problem, the Houston Galveston Subsidence District was formed in 1975, groundwater use was restricted and subsidence was slowed, but the damage had been done. The entire Galveston Bay area is now more prone to flooding, and as the sea level rises, our homes and neighborhoods will become even more at risk.  

Can we do anything about this problem? It appears that we can. Following Hurricane Ike, Bill Merrill of Texas A&M proposed the Ike Dike, a barrier system to protect the Galveston Bay area from a similar storm surge. An Ike Dike would not only protect our homes, including historic neighborhoods like Timber Cove, but it would protect a major portion of our nation’s industrial base — the refining and petrochemical installations located in the Houston-Galveston area. Almost 40 percent of the U.S. jet fuel is produced here.

The Dutch have been protecting their land from the sea for centuries, and following a major storm surge in 1953 that killed almost 2,000 people, they conceived and proceeded to build the Delta Works, a barrier system to protect their people and industry from a another severe storm. The Ike Dike would be similar.

Cost estimates for the Ike Dike are about $5 billion. Even if the costs were three to four times that amount, that would still be far less than the damages from Hurricane Ike, estimated to be about $30 billion. And had Ike tracked a little farther to the west, the damage would have been considerably more.

We think this is a no-brainer. We caused some of this problem; we can fix it. Build the Ike Dike. Invest the money to protect our neighborhoods, the home of our space program and a major portion of the industrial base of our country.

Jon Powell and Cindy Evans live in Taylor Lake Village.

Jon Powell and Cindy Evans live in Taylor Lake Village.

(6) comments

GW Cornelius

Great letter now lets get congress behind it.

Steve Fouga

Very well-written, thoughtful letter!

But I suggest there might be cheaper ways of achieving the same end. We won't know until proper technically- and economically-sound trade studies are done.

$5B for the Ike Dike is a pipedream. If it were only $5B, then it WOULD be a no-brainer.

George Croix

You can't get Washington, D.C. to agree to allow an oil pipeline to be built that wouldn't cost taxpayers a dime, and the main reason is 'environmental' concerns, despite over 5 YEARS of multiple studies ALL concluding the pipeline would be viable and do no harm.
The T.C. Levee was started in the 60's when we placed more importance on human life and economic loss than on endangered minnows and plants.
An Ike Dike will not have that time buffer luxury, and even discounting the nation's fundamentally changed economic picture from bad to worse, it's reasonable to expect YEARS of delays and stalling tactics and lawsuits, lest we harm some endangered dirt somewhere.
Actually 30 Billion is probably a lowball figure, as much as can be told so far, because few if any governemnt projects ever come in at less than a 6x increase in 'estimate', and often considerably more.
HOWEVER, the authors make a point. The money SHOULD be made available.
After all, about 30 billion was the amount spent by the feds in 2010 for costs associated withh illegal alien 'immigration' , and it's certainly not elss now.
There ya go.
Makes one wonder why people here illegally get better response and help from the feds than Texas coastie citizens sitting in the middle of all this critical refinery and chemical plant infrastructure.
Doesn't it?

PD Hyatt

This administration hates Texas and I seriously doubt that this would go through the Senate at this point in time.... Besides as you stated the cost is going to be astronomical IF the greenies will even allow it to be built.... What is amazing is that no one is talking about how high our taxes will be when this areas part has to be paid by us....

Steve Fouga

Yes, gecriox, it does make one wonder.

Here are some obstacles facing the Ike Dike:
-- Cost. It'll be terribly expensive in either a poor or good economy.
-- Uncertainty. Very hard to estimate the cost and schedule, so hard to commit to it.
-- Technical challenges. Sure it's feasible, but is it so hard to do that it's impractical?
-- Right-of-way disputes. Show me a plan for a 75-mile levee that doesn't infringe on private property. Lots of it.
-- Environmental disputes. If we can't decide whether to remove seaweed from Galveston's most important tourist attraction, how can we decide to build 75 miles of environmentally disruptive structure?
-- Apathy. Very interesting that the industry most likely to benefit from the Dike is not demanding it, or even offering to help pay for it.
-- Lack of will. Not enough noise is being made by people with clout, community leaders, local politicos, or even by the affected citizenry who stand to lose their homes.
-- Haters. The Nation hates Texas, and for some reason the State doesn't give a crap about the Coast.

Susan Fennewald

It's funny that those who oppose a nanny government still support the nanny government Ike Dike.

As for environmental concerns - I can't see this ever passing muster. And I'm not talking insignificant aspects. Think of the shrimping business- whether you eat them or fish them. Shrimp are dependent on the moving in and out of the bay. Right now, they say this is a poor shrimp season - with numbers way down (and prices way up). Why? They don't really know - maybe the level of freshwater inflow into the bay, maybe something else (did the oil spill near Bolivar Roads have an effect?) How would the Ike Dike major construction project at the entrances to the bay affect things?

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