When a hurricane hits the Texas coast, storm surge can push huge amounts of water through the inlet that connects the Gulf of Mexico with Galveston Bay.
“Houston is just inside the bay, fourth-largest city in the nation, lots and lots of people … and they are at risk,” says Kelly Burks-Copes of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Burks-Copes is the project manager for the Coastal Texas Program, an ambitious plan to reduce the region’s vulnerability to storm surge flooding.
It centers around a massive system of gates — called the Ike Dike — which would span the inlet. During a hurricane, the gates would close and prevent water from entering the bay.
Plans also include flood walls and more than 40 miles of restored dunes and beaches to help protect the coast from waves and erosion.
“This will be the largest civil works project the Corps has ever undertaken in its 250 years,” Burks-Copes says.
Last year, Congress authorized the Corps to move forward on the project. It will take years of design, planning, and environmental review before construction begins.
But Burks-Copes says once completed, the project will help provide critical flood protection for Houston and the surrounding area.
Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media