I’ve long had an interest in the ways in which Galveston has, and could in the future, protect lives and property from natural disasters like hurricanes and rising tides.
This island was blessed following 1900 when our city leadership undertook to rebuild Galveston Island from the devastation of The 1900 Storm. Those folks had the vision of a bright future for Galveston. One that we’ve all benefited from in the ensuing decades.
I believe the time has come for us to act and show our support and like our forefathers, take a stand for future generations.
This past week, I invested an hour of my time with representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Texas General Land Office. I attended the first virtual public information session online. I would recommend for anyone similarly interested, to attend the next one at 6 p.m. Dec. 2.
If you’ll take a moment to search and review the website coastalstudy.texas.gov, I believe you will be richly rewarded. There you will find a draft copy of the Coastal Texas Protection and Restoration Feasibility Study in its entirety. But the Corps has provided many more ways to quickly access information about the study on this website.
Should this study receive congressional approval, it would move on to the design and then construction phases.
The state of Texas has 3,300 miles of estuarine shoreline, is home to 24 percent of the state’s population, has a 15.8 percent share of the U.S. port cargo, and in upper Galveston Bay, we produce 30 percent of the U.S. refining capacity. This area plays a major role in the energy security of our entire nation.
Our ports represent over $82.8 billion in economic value to the state. More than 525 million tons of cargo pass through Texas ports annually.
Every bit as important as the protection of business and industry is the protection of homes, churches, schools and support systems for the families who need them, and the folks who work in these businesses and industries. If they’re displaced and unable to work, the ripple effect will certainly be felt.
The study outlines Gulf side and bay side defense management systems and also bay and Gulf ecosystem restoration. Gulf side improvements include the Bolivar Roads Gate System, improvements to Galveston’s seawall and beach and dune protection.
Bay side defense systems include an 18-mile ring barrier that addresses the possibility of flooding from the bay. The ring barrier portion of the defense system would include surge gates, and pumping stations that would provide forced drainage to overcome the inefficiencies of the island’s gravity drainage system.
The website has a story map for each of these where you can see visual representations, and scroll across the affected areas to see what flooding would be like with and without these improvements. There’s a strong case to be made that the $26 billion invested in these improvements can easily be justified against the savings that would accrue after just one major hurricane.