Officials say $6B 'Ike Dike' could help prevent coastal damage from storm surge

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by Andrew Horansky / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on June 4, 2014 at 7:05 PM

Updated Thursday, Jun 5 at 8:12 AM

LA PORTE, Texas – As communities along the coast brace for hurricane season, some worry they are not doing enough.

On Wednesday, several leaders called for an offshore barrier that could possibly protect lives and industries in the event of another bad storm.

If built, it would be a modern marvel – a massive barrier stretching westward from High Island to San Luis Pass, ready for whatever nature throws at it.

“Here we can make the death and devastation caused by hurricane-induced surges a thing of the past,” Dr. William Merrell, with Texas A&M University, said.

Merrell is a leading voice behind a $6 billion plan dubbed the “Ike Dike.”

Modeled off a network of levees and gates protecting the Netherlands, it could provide critical protection from a surge if a hurricane ever hit the Houston-Galveston region directly.

“What we learned most from Ike it’s not the wind we need to be worried about most. It’s the storm surge,” Bob Mitchell, with Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership, said.

Forming a group called the Bay Area Coastal Protection Alliance, officials in La Porte warned that time may be running out and that the $35 billion in damage caused by Ike was just a taste.

“It was a devastating storm. It was beyond imaginable. But it’s not the worst it could be. We were spared. It could have been much worse if it had hit west,” Vic Pierson, with Bay Area Coastal Protection Alliance, said.

They believe the long-term savings of a barrier will be worth it to the economy.

If Congress can approve 85 percent of their cost, they said they could come up with the rest locally and that the barrier would be ready in two years.

It is a bold act of man, but what’s needed; they say to potentially take on a violent force of nature.

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