When Hurricane Ike made landfall in 2008, Bill Merrell, his wife, their daughter, their grandson and two Chihuahuas were on the second floor of a historic brick building in downtown Galveston, Texas Take refuge. Continuous strong winds of 110 miles per hour hit the building. The sea water submerged the bottom layer to a depth of more than 8 feet. Once, at night, Merrell caught a glimpse of a nearly full moon and realized that they had entered the eyes of the hurricane.
Many years ago, Merrell, a physical oceanographer at Texas A&M University in Galveston, visited the huge East Scheldt storm surge barrier, a nearly 6-mile-long fortress that prevents the North Sea from being flooded by storms The southern coast of the Netherlands. When Ike roared outside, Merel kept thinking about the barrier. “The next morning, I started to outline what I thought seemed reasonable here,” he said. “It turned out to be very close to what the Dutch would do.”
These sketches are the beginning of Ike Dyke, a proposal to protect the coastal barrier of Galveston Bay. The core idea: A huge gate that spans the main entrance from the Gulf of Mexico into the Gulf, known as the Bolivar Highway, is combined with miles of high seawalls.
Just across from Galveston, at least 15 people died on the Bolivar Peninsula that night. The storm destroyed about 3,600 houses there. The following year, when Merrell started to promote Ike Dike, the body was still missing, but he said that the idea was “really ridiculed by the general public”. Politicians don’t like its cost, environmentalists worry about its impact, and no one believes it will work.
Merel insisted. After returning to the Netherlands, he visited experts from Delft University and sought their support. Over the next few years, academic researchers in the Netherlands and the United States conducted dozens of studies on the choice of Galveston Bay, and Merel and his allies received input from local communities, business leaders, and politicians. stand by.
In 2014, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers collaborated with the state to research an alternative to Ike Dike for Galveston Bay.After many iterations, the bill to establish a management structure for the $26.2 billion obstacle proposalThe Legion was developed with the Texas Land Administration and recently passed the Texas House of Representatives and Senate. In September, the Legion will submit their proposal to the U.S. Congress, and Congress will need to approve funding for the project.
Given its huge price tag, no one can guess the exact fate of the obstacle proposal. With sea levels rising and storms intensifying with global climate change, Houston is far from the only coastal metropolitan area facing serious risks in the United States. From San Francisco to Miami to New York City, large-scale multi-billion-dollar coastal projects are already underway or under consideration.
President Joe Biden’s new $2 trillion National Infrastructure Initiative specifically calls for troubled coastal construction projects in the country. Houston is the fifth largest metropolitan area in the United States and the fragile heart of the petrochemical industry. The initiative highlights the difficult decisions of large coastal projects that must balance social needs, engineering capabilities, environmental protection, and costs.
At the same time, sea levels continue to rise. Carly Foster, a resiliency expert at Arcadis, a global design consultancy, said: “There is a huge tension between the need to solve these problems and the need to solve them quickly, and we have to do it well.”