Just over a year ago, Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas coastline and left devastation in its wake. In cities like Rockport and Corpus Christi there was substantial wind damage, which is typical of most Category 4 hurricanes.

However, it’s what Harvey did after hitting the Texas coastline that has made it the costliest hurricane in U.S. history. Once Harvey hit the coast, its movement slowed to a crawl, and over the course of five days it dropped an unprecedented amount of rain over the Texas coast.

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, Gov. Greg Abbott created the Commission to Rebuild Texas. The goal of this program is to research the most effective ways to rebuild and protect the Texas coast from future flooding events. Hurricane Harvey exposed multiple vulnerabilities in Texas coastal communities, and the research aims to study these weaknesses to see how they can be fixed.

Abbott named Texas A&M System Chancellor John Sharp as the head of the Commission, and in turn Sharp appointed Samuel Brody, a professor at Texas A&M Galveston branch, to lead the research.

Over the last year, several strategies for flood mitigation have been studied and reviewed to see if and how they could be incorporated into the Texas coast. The strategies have included some contentious topics, including public buyouts, coastal surge protection systems like the Ike Dike, and updating the hazard disclosure and risk communication systems. The program also studied less drastic solutions like flood-proofing existing structures, regional water retention plans and spatial planning for new developments.

The research has been completed, and the Commission’s full report will be presented to the state legislature and Abbott sometime this month. The report will include a list of recommendations for actions to take based on the flood mitigation strategies that were studied, though it will be up to state and local jurisdictions to determine what — if any — changes should be made.

To learn about the project, and to see the full report once it’s released, visit https://www.rebuildtx.org/ for more information.

Rebecca Burgamy and Amanda Fuentes-McPherson are students at Texas A&M Galveston in the Ocean and Coastal Resources program.


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