GALVESTON

Galveston’s next group of elected leaders is in line to have a major say in plans to protect the city from future hurricanes.

John Wayne Ferguson: 409-683-5226; john.ferguson@galvnews.com or on Twitter @johnwferguson.

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(18) comments

Bill Hynek

This is a prime example of a complex issue that our elected representatives should shoulder the burden of informing themselves and voting for the greater good of all Galvestonians and not let a few wealthy developers, businesses and beach front property owners sway their vote when they become the loudest minority at the council meetings. And Bo, the ring levy under discussion does not extend out to the west end property owners unless you think Galveston ends at 103rd St..

If GDN wanted to know how Bo Quiroga would vote as mayor they should have gone to the source and asked Mr. Fertitta directly.

Ron Shelby

Something absolutely must be built and that’s what we need a Yay or Nay comment on. A commitment to head us toward something. Anyone who’s not committed to that should not be elected.

Michelle Aycoth

I agree with you Ron 100%.

Andy Aycoth

Robert Braeking

Structures on barrier islands should be uninsured, unmortgaged, and expendable. Back in the day it was just fishing shacks that people could afford to self-insure. Anyone who builds a house on the beach and expects the rest of us to assume their risk with higher windstorm insurance rates is...............(this is a family channel)

Charlotte O'rourke

Robert, rather harsh don’t you think. Galveston is much more than beach houses. Galveston, theship channel, refineries, and surrounding communities going up that channel are very important.

A similar philosophy could be applied for any disaster prone area.... no insurance in fire zones, tornado alley, flooding, earthquakes, etc.

This philosophy could also be applied and is applied by some individuals to real people with ongoing health issues and needing insurance.

The ring barrier, which solution is best, the order of implementation, and should the government help pay for it are all legitimate questions, but to just write off this issue as beach homes and a barrier island, well I disagree.

But I may have misunderstood your point.

Bailey Jones

While I've lived 15 years in a hurricane zone, paying exorbitant insurance rates without a single insurance claim, my daughter in Dallas lost her home to a tornado. My sister in north central Texas almost lost hers to a wildfire. Wind, fire, rain, earthquake - there is no living free of disaster.

Robert Braeking

Charlotte, Reality can be harsh. If the residents and businesses of Galveston Island want to hold back the ocean with their Don Quixote schemes, then don't expect the rest of us to foot the bill. Do something unique. Reach into their own pockets rather than our pockets.

Charlotte O'rourke

Robert, The coastal spine impacts much bigger and important fish than Galveston Island which means it may have a chance for funding. Are you against that as well? Or just the ring barrier? The government sure is spending a lot of time and money if some type of surge protection doesn't stand a chance of being funded.

Robert Braeking

Charlotte, Coastal spine, ring barrier, tilting at windmills. No matter what is built the cost will be far higher than the benefit. Disrupting the natural flow of tides will have a negative effect on marine life. The Galveston Bay system is designed to breath. Many species have a pelagic origin and depend on tides and coastal salt grass to provide nurseries for their development. Choking off that process will be disastrous for the system. Don't trust the politicos. They don't have our best interest in mind. They are only interested in their own self aggrandizement.

Charlotte O'rourke

Bailey, I agree if you are alive disaster can and will come calling which is the purpose of having insurance. What is your opinion on surge protection and the various options being discussed? I can understand that some people are against the ring barrier as it is specific to Galveston, and some advocate wanting the ring to go first, and maybe this is what Robert is against.

But some type surge of protection is needed and let’s hope our representatives choose the best plan and get the project funded.

Bailey Jones

I'm enough of an engineer to know that I'm not enough of an engineer to have an opinion that's worth anything. All I can say is that I would like it to protect the maximum number of people possible. I understand that some people will be left outside the barrier, and will be at risk - but I also remember a lot of those outside areas being swept clean by Ike. We may just have to accept the fact that there are parts of the island that will never be inhabitable for the long term.

Charlotte O'rourke

Thanks for responding. As no engineer at all, on this subject, I’m depending on our representatives to make informed choices.

Bailey Jones

These sort of projects are really uncharted territory. Other countries have built flood protection, but they don't have Cat 5 hurricanes and Harvey-level rains.

Miceal O'Laochdha

Charlotte: relying on our representatives (political officials) to make informed choices is an admirable leap of faith; one the edge of which a lifetime of ever-evolving cynicism holds me well back.

Bailey: I have found the idea of building anything to a Cat 5 standard difficult to understand. I had a Naval Architect firm provide me with certification that the mooring arrangement I had on a dead ship was good for a Cat 5 storm. When I asked how they could certify that, since there is no fixed upper measurement of Cat 5 wind speed, they said nothing and just handed me the signed certificate and an invoice for services...

Bailey Jones

Miceal, I don't think any of these plans will help with the wind. [tongue]

I think with the unknowns about the future of the climate, we should plan for the worst and hope for the best.

Charlotte O'rourke

Miceal, LOL. I agree with you, it’s a leap of faith on my part, and NOT one that I normally follow. You sound like you have an engineering background in your posts. What’s your opinion? Ring barrier or coastal spine or both or neither ?

Miceal O'Laochdha

I am the wrong kind of engineer (marine) to have any sort of expertise in this question. But I will rely on the experience I gained in New Orleans after Katrina. I favor a ring barrier, with certain specific caveats. The pumping capacity must be of sufficient margin and absolutely must have multiple redundancy of both pumps and power supply for the prime movers. Had New Orleans not been relying upon power supply to her pumping systems from a single power generation plant, using outdated, off-cycle, electrical distribution, a great deal of the flooding would not have occurred. That would not have helped levee over-topping in St. Bernard Parish of course; the barrier height will be difficult to determine and will inevitably be (educated) guesswork. The main source of flooding in the 9th Ward, particularly the Upper Ninth, was from a loose barge breaching the wall of the Industrial Canal. A ring barrier design in Galveston could also be vulnerable to that type of failure in way of the flood wall needed around the Port area, and attention must be paid to the strength and integrity of that wall; as well as (like always) the proper mooring arrangements of vessels permitted to remain in port for the storm.

Wayne D Holt

Very helpful comments, Miceal. Sounds like I share the same engineering background as Ms. O'Rourke, which is precious little. But from what I've gleaned from others who do have expertise, it's hard to conclude anything other than the ring barrier in the abstract is what is needed; it's the gory details that haven't been ironed out.

I don't understand how having some protection (if the ring barrier were to be built first) can be inferior to no protection, especially when you're talking about 15 or 20 hurricane seasons of vulnerability to disaster. Sure, it's supposed to be a secondary barrier so the protection afforded would not be best-of-class. But I would rather have an eight, six or four foot wall in front of any storm surge than just hoping we can will it back like King Canute.

I hope the community comes together on this soon and that we're granted calm seas over the next several years to put it in place before the inevitable happens again.

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