Hurricane season has officially ended without a major storm hitting the Texas coast.
We can all breathe a little easier, right? Not really.
While hurricanes hit an area and are gone within days — or weeks as we saw with Hurricane Harvey last year — overcoming the damage from the storms lasts years.
Just ask the people who lived in the track of hurricanes Katrina and Rita in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas in 2005. More than a dozen recovery projects in the county are still in the works in the aftermath of 2008’s Hurricane Ike, and many homes in the county are still unlivable in the wake of last year’s Hurricane Harvey.
The years-long path to recovery is just beginning for people in the Carolinas, where Hurricane Florence poured up to 30 inches of rain onto the area in September, leaving towns along rivers and sounds swamped. Florida was hit with two deadly and destructive hurricanes in roughly a year’s time. Hurricanes Irma last year and Michael in October caused tens of billions of dollars in damage.
Hurricanes are a fact of life. How we deal with the aftermath is also a fact of life.
As many people have noted, though, part of the recovery process is not only dealing with the destruction in the path of the storms, but also by preparing for the next storm.
It will take a coordinated effort of federal, state and local governments. And there will be no one simple solution.
Take, for instance, the proposed Ike Dike. Last month, state and federal officials recommended a plan to protect the Texas coast from hurricanes. The proposal included some ideas from a project known as the coastal spine, also called the “Ike Dike.”
But the coastal spine would not have spared the county from the worst of Hurricane Harvey, which dumped more than 50 inches of rain on the area. Sensible flood-control projects would be the answer.
Discussions and proposals are happening both in Galveston and Harris counties that are designed to help alleviate some of the flooding.
But there is no one simple answer, and no way coastal communities can devise foolproof flood-control plans. What officials can do is to lessen the effects of the damage caused by flooding.
All of these plans need coordination and discussion. For instance, over the coming days and months, there will be public hearings on the proposed Ike Dike. There are those who support the plan, others who don’t. Let’s hope, though, both sides can agree on one thing — preparing for the next storm is more than a desire, it is a necessity.
• Dave Mathews