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Land Office Satellite Photography

The Texas General Land Office is using space satellite photography to show how the shape of the Texas coast line was changed by Hurricane Ike. Jim Bell explains.


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Beach erosion caused by Hurricane Ike moved the shore line farther inland up and down the coast. A lot of beach houses are now on the beach itself, which is public property, and by law they may have to be torn down. Owners are upset and it’s a big legal mess. Hoping to clarify the state’s position, the General Land Office has created a website that uses satellite photography to show where the shore line was before and after the storm.  Land Office spokesman Jim Suydam:

“We’ve taken Google Earth and we’ve layered over images taken on four different over-flights of the coast. And you can turn on these extra layers and look at a point on the coast and slide that layer over, and look at how it was before or after Hurricane Ike.” 

Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson agrees it may be too late to help people already overtaken by the shifting shore line, but it will help local planners, developers and homeowners decide where to build in the future.

“We did it for everyone. We did it for both the public as well as the county and city folks who’re going to have to be issuing permits for construction, and also issuing emergency permits for those who want to make emergency repairs.”

On the General Land Office Web site, click on Hurricane Ike Shoreline Assessment, and you must have Google Earth on your PC to view the land office satellite photography. 

Jim Bell, KUHF, Houston Public Radio.