Twelve years ago, Hurricane Ike leveled the Bolivar Peninsula as it roared into Galveston Bay. Had Ike come onshore 10-20 miles west, Houston would be a very different place today. Most of Houston’s industrial might would have been on the dirty side of the storm instead of the dry side. Refineries, tank farms, and ships could have been destroyed with their chemicals poisoning the Bay. Ever since then, people and think tanks have advanced ideas to avoid such a possibility.
Park Would Protect Populated Areas in Larger Storms
One of the most novel and affordable is a complement to the Army Corps’ Coastal Protection Study. It’s called the Galveston Bay Park Project.
While the Corps’ plan would reportedly protect the west side of Galveston Bay in a Category 1 or light Category 2 storm, critics worry that it wouldn’t be enough for a Cat 3, 4, or 5 storm. That’s where the Galveston Bay Park Plan comes in. It would form a natural barrier that helps protect industrial facilities from League City to Deer Park from storm surge driven into and across the Bay.
Recreational and Wildlife Potential
The Galveston Bay Park Plan would also create recreational opportunities for people within the Bay, while creating additional natural habitat for the area’s abundant birds, fish and shellfish.
Architects of Plan
The Severe Storm Prediction Education & Evacuation from Disaster (SPPEED) Center at Rice University conceived the plan and Rogers Partners of New York and Houston designed it.
Materials for Construction
The Park would be constructed by widening the Houston Ship Channel from its currently proposed 700 feet to 900 feet. The excavated clay will help build a 25-foot levee along the ship channel from Houston Point in Chambers County to the Texas City hurricane levee in Galveston County.
Additionally, with the disposal of the dredged material, the Galveston Bay Park Plan will create usable park space within Galveston Bay which will also include constructed wetlands as well as other bird habitats.
Award Winning Plan and Video
The GBPP was recently chosen as one of the top designs in the Houston 2020 Visions Competition. This competition sought creative ideas focused on making Houston more resilient.
According to Houston City Council Member David W. Robinson, FAIA, “This video is a must-watch for those concerned about the future of our region and the critical need for ongoing disaster preparedness. Hurricane storm surge is the sleeping giant of flood issues. This project is vitally necessary for our success in the 21st Century and will be a valuable asset for the region for many generations to come.”
View the video here. It’s divided up into three segments:
- Intro by Marvin Odum, former president of Shell Oil and Chief Harvey Recovery Officer for City of Houston
- Recap of Ike that sets the stage for the plan
- Description of the plan
The plan itself is almost too audacious to describe. You need to see it. Part 3 starts at 6:32 in and runs to 10:55.
The video was produced by filmmaker Jeffrey Mills of Io Communications of Houston. Barbara Mills provided animation and other special effects.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 12/4/2020
1194 Days since Hurricane Harvey and 12 years since Ike