Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Hurricane Ike, which struck the Texas Gulf Coast just east of Galveston in September 2008, was the third most destructive hurricane to strike the United States. Ike left an estimated $24 billion of property damage, 82 deaths and 202 missing in its wake. Had the storm not taken a last minute turn to the north from its northwest track, it would have made a direct hit on Galveston and Houston and the storm surge would have been far more catastrophic to property and lives.

William Merrell, a Texas A&M University at Galveston oceanographer, has a plan that will protect Galveston and nearby coastal areas from a hurrican's storm surge. He calls for an extension of the seawall all the way to the western end of Galveston Island and for a new sea wall on the Bolivar Peninsula, which is east of Galveston Bay.

In order to protect Houston and other cities along Galveston Bay, Merrell proposes the construction of huge floodgates at the entrance to the bay, like those used in the Netherlands. He also calls for smaller gates at San Louis Pass and the Intracostal Waterway, both of which are west of Galveston Island.

I think the “Ike Dike” is a great idea. Merrell's plan would protect existing costal properties and save countless lives. Environmentalists would rather see the destruction of existing property and loss of lives in order keep developers at bay and to protect the migration of fish on those few occasions when the flood gates are closed.

The Econuts are vehemently opposed to the Ike Dike. What is an Econut? That is an environmentalist who puts the environment ahead of the lives of human beings. Econuts are over-represented in the Sierra Club which screams bloody murder at every possible perceived threat to the environment regardless of what effect their protests may have on the lives and jobs of millions of hard working Americans, whether they make their living off of the forests in the Northwest or from industries along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts.

I have been battling with the econuts ever since Merrell proposed the Ike Dike. [See “Environmentalists Be Damned!” (4-10-09) and “Pay Now Or Pay Later” (4-15-09).] In turn, they have declared me to be an anti-environmentalist. The Master Naturalist group in my area took me off their mailing list (as if I give a damn) and in one of their meetings I was called a nutcase by several members.

Actually, I’m for taking all REASONABLE measures to protect the environment. I belong to several environmental organizations, the most notable of which is the Nature Conservancy. Instead of raising hell like the Sierra Club does all the time, the Nature Conservancy quietly buys up land all over the world in order to protect the environment.

A strong case for an Ike Dike was made the other day in the Houston Chronicle. More than two years ago Bill Read left his position as meteorologist-in-chief of the Houston/Galveston office of the National Weather Service to direct the National Hurricane Center. Chronicle science writer Eric Berger caught up with Read at the National Hurricane Conference in Orlando, Fla., earlier this month to talk about computer models, the Ike Dike and why communities don't want to put up storm surge markers.

Q: Is it prudent for the Houston/Galveston region to try and harden the coast with a structure like the Ike Dike?
A: I think they have to at least work through the whole process. In that stretch of the upper Texas coast you have more than a million people in the evacuation zones and infrastructure that's important to the entire country, and all of the health care. To examine the feasibility of protecting it is good, because we're reaching the point where evacuating it is darn near impossible. You're not going to see more lanes on 45 or 10 or 290, are you? Not soon. Short of stopping growth in the surge zones what else can you do?

Q: Do you think a dike would actually work?
A: From an engineering point of view everything is feasible. From a can-you-beat-Mother-Nature point of view I'm not sure anything ever works perfectly. If they're going to do it they need to be bold and perhaps take the Netherlands approach. Build it to the 10,000-year event, which is anything. If you build it to a Category 3 hurricane, you're just wasting your time. You've got to build it for anything that can happen. Otherwise people will think they're safe and we'll have another New Orleans situation where we have all of these people in harm's way.

I forwarded those Chronicle excerpts to people on my address list who live in this area and included the following message: To Bob ------ and to the econuts who oppose the building of the Ike dike, please note that we're reaching the point where it will become impossible to evacuate the area. So stop putting your concern for the environment ahead of the lives of thousands of people.

Bob, who is a good friend and fellow nature center volunteer, has been arguing with me over this issue for more than a year and replied as follows: To you and all your anti enviroment, anti mother nature, Developer loving friends, I suggest you put up the money to pay for the dike, dont ask me for tax support, if you want to live near the water, then accept the responsibility for what can happen, dont ask the rest of us to bail your asses out because thats your choice.

Here was my response to Bob’s reply: First of all, I am not anti-environment or anti-mother nature. It is obvious that you get your mental exercise by jumping to conclusions. Second of all, you are going to pay for the damage, destruction and death done by any Gulf or Atlantic hurricane, even if you were to live in the Dakotas, and the amount taxpayers will be out will far exceed that of the Ike Dike. So, stick it up your econut ass, old buddy!

What Bob and his ilk fail to understand is that American taxpayers have been paying all along for the damage and destruction done by hurricanes. The taxpayers have paid billions for the devastation brought about by - just to name three hurricanes - Hurricane Andrew in Florida, Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana and Mississippi, and Hurricane Ike. The $5 billion Ike Dike price tag for building the flood gates and for extending existing seawalls and building new seawalls is chicken feed when compared to the cost of a major hurricane.

You can blame the developers all you want, but they would not build homes in the coastal areas if there was no demand for beach front properties. While I don’t have much sympathy for beach homeowners, most of the people who lose their lives and homes do not live on the beach. I live 25 miles from the beach and several miles from Galveston Bay, but my home is endangered by the possibility of a strong storm surge. So are the properties of several million other people who do not live near the beach. And why do so many of us live in an endangered storm surge area? Because that’s where our jobs are.

The Econuts believe that the natural sand dunes will protect both the environment and off-beach properties from the devastation of a hurricane’s storm surge. What a crock of shit! The Ike Dike will protect lives and property. If those who are opposed to the Ike Dike get their way, thousands of lives will be placed in jeopardy and billions of dollars of property will be put at risk. So I ask you, who is nuts? Those of us who support the Ike Dike or those who put the environment ahead of the lives of their fellow human beings?

1 comment:

Centurion said...

Great article. And you know what? I would much rather see our stimulis boondoggle spent on projects like this one over salamander tunnels and some of the other crap that has come out of Washington.

This would actually create thousands of jobs and it would be an expendature that would help out a large number of people.

That's why I don't expect it to happen......