The Daily News and Galveston Regional Chamber of Commerce would like you to oppose the only proven way to protect Galveston Island from flooding.

For the life of me, I really don’t understand why. They ask you to risk your life and property on technology from halfway around the world where geography, geology and storms are little comparison to our situation in the Gulf.

The coastal spine will be one of the most expensive U.S. government projects ever. It will rely on federal funding from an uncertain government 20 years from now.

We will end up paying to maintain everything the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers builds, including constant restoration of West End beaches in front of private homes. We know what even minor beach restoration costs thanks to our Park Boards projects. Add 18 more miles of sand.

On the other hand, the ring levee is proven technology. Successful Gulf examples abound — the Galveston seawall, and the Texas City Dike. And just look at New Orleans. Levees work, even for a city that’s below sea level.

The Corps of Engineers has concluded that the ring levee is the necessary improvement to Galveston Island, period.

Do we really want to have to survive and endure another Hurricane Ike or worse? Should we put all our eggs in the basket of the coastal spine dream that’s projected to take as long as 30 years? Or take action now?

Now is the time for Galveston to step up and take leadership.

We can accelerate the construction of the ring levee by passing a municipal bond — the local share of this cost. The balance of the funding could come from the Texas state rainy day fund. And our two powerful U.S. senators could get the rest from federal funds.

We should also back the municipal funding because, after built, our insurance rates could drop substantially, more than offsetting any additional tax cost of the municipal bond.

Ring levee benefits

• The flood protection that we needed during Hurricane Ike and need for the future.

• With pumps added, it will ameliorate the continual flooding we experience several times a year.

• It could provide sanctuary to West End residents in a hurricane. As we remember, fleeing the island during Hurricane Rita lost more lives than staying put. After all, we’re talking about safety, and not about sand renourishment.

• Aesthetically, the protective wall will be no higher than your neighbor’s backyard fence.

• Our insurance rates will be substantially lower because we’re no longer in a flood zone.

• Real estate values would then increase.

• The Corps has determined that the ring levee is cost effective, would save Galveston residents many more millions than it would cost.

Let’s all get behind the Galveston ring levee.

Ralph McMorris is a former Galveston city council member.


(4) comments

Jeff Patterson

Well said Ralph. All the studies show that some type of ring barrier is required to protect Galveston from bay side storm surge, and we will need to move from a gravity based storm water drainage system to one supplemented by pumps for the future. The coastal barrier will provide both. Time to move beyond emotion and opinions to fact based discussions and decisions on what those should look like. The clock is ticking....

Wayne Holt

A well-reasoned assessment on the risk/reward equation, thank you, Ralph. It is a bit hard to see how leaving downtown exposed for decades to another disaster like Ike is forward thinking. A low wall will ruin the aesthetics of Galveston's charm? How about a wall of water and mud packed into every crevice of every historic building downtown as an option? How many years of effort, how many lives changed, how many businesses lost, because we were "swimming naked" when it hit? How many times could the name Galveston sustain that kind of impact before it became associated with destruction? After all, we roll the dice every hurricane season, which is to say every year.

There is no use hunting unicorns for a solution, there will be downsides to everything proposed. When we determine the least objectionable solution to the utter destruction of downtown and large segments of the rest of the community, we should get on with the task of protecting ourselves the best we can.

Carol Hollaway

We need bay surge protection for the reasons mentioned above but also to mitigate the effects of closed navigation gates across Bolivar Roads. In the aftermath of a hurricane, the bay surge will again descend upon the Island from the north just like it did with Hurricane Ike. Although the surge from the Gulf might be mitigated a bit from the closed navigation gates, the bay surge will still be substantial as Corps and GCCPRD studies have demonstrated. That surge will not be able to reenter the Gulf because the navigation gates will still be closed and will swamp the Island. That is, in part, why the Corps' ring barrier is a critical component of the Bolivar Roads navigation gates. The Corps cannot cause damages with their efforts without mitigating for them in some way. They are responsible for mitigating any damages that might be caused by their work, and so, the ring barrier also functions as a mitigation tool for the navigation gates.

What the public needs to be made aware of is the operation of these gates. It's not like someone is going to push a button and the gates are going to open or close. Gates must be manually operated as directed by the Department of Homeland Security.

Patricia C Newsom

.......“The Corps cannot cause damages with their efforts without mitigating for them in some way”.

This has been legislated. The Corps builds a project and when finished, leaves. Locals says there is a problem.... Corps says -prove it!!!

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