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Harris County Commissioner Warns Storm Surge Could Cripple Houston’s Ship Channel

Harris County Commissioner Adrian Garcia said the Ike Dike alone, when or if it’s built, wouldn’t be enough to guard against the effects of a direct hit from a hurricane.

Galveston Bay and the Houston Ship Channel
Gail Delaughter/Houston Public Media
Galveston Bay and the Houston Ship Channel


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Hurricane Laura skipped Houston — but served as a stark reminder of how vulnerable the region is to hurricanes. And that's leading some Harris County leaders to push for greater preparedness now.

Harris County Commissioner Adrian Garcia said Laura could have been a catastrophe for the Houston region.

"God forbid that that damage could have been here," Garcia said. "We would have been blaming ourselves for not having taken action. The good Lord has given us a reprieve, and we need to take advantage of it."

Every hurricane season in the Houston area brings up the topic of storm preparedness and flood mitigation — for future storms. One proposed solution, a “coastal spine” project named after Hurricane Ike and known as the “Ike Dike,” would install an estimated $31 billion gated seawall to protect the Greater Houston area from storm surge.

But Garcia said he advocates for what he calls a "multi-tiered plan" to protect the region, rather than relying on construction of the Ike Dike alone.

Garcia, who represents Precinct 2 in eastern Harris County, said the Houston Ship Channel and its petrochemical industry remain extremely vulnerable to storm surge.

"Obviously, I'm always, always very concerned about the storm surge that comes into [Galveston Bay] and as a consequence to the Ship Channel and the Port of Houston and the effects of it," Garcia said. "You know if you look at the data of what we could have had as a direct hit, the coastal spine as it has been discussed wouldn't have been near enough to protect us from a direct hit."