SSPEED Conference Recap
IIn September, the SSPEED Center hosted a two-day conference for more than 150 people, which marked the five-year anniversary of Hurricane Ike and the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy. The conference, "Hurricane Ike: 5 Years Later," attracted a broad audience of concerned citizens, business and industry leaders, emergency managers, governmental officials and academic researchers.
Keynote speakers Houston Mayor Annise Parker and Port of Houston Authority Chair Janiece Longoria addressed the need for severe storm protection in the region. Additional keynote speakers included Bill Read, former director of the National Hurricane Center, New York City Department of Environmental Protection's Kathryn Garcia and Office of Emergency Management's Kelly McKinney. These presentations covered Hurricane Sandy, as well as risk and response strategies. Professor Ning Lin from Princeton University had a keynote presentation on climate changes and hurricane risk.
The conference had a featured session on the SSPEED Center's proposed Centennial Gate. This is a large surge gate that could be constructed near the Fred Hartman Bridge to provide major storm-surge protection for the Houston Ship Channel and adjacent neighborhoods. This session's presentations covered technical, modeling, legal issues, finance strategies, land use, and environmental impacts of the proposed structure.
The SSPEED Center's proposed nonstructural alternatives to hurricane mitigation strategies the Lone Star Coastal National Recreation Area (LSCNRA) and the ecosystem services exchange were also featured at the conference. This session included a presentation from Houston businessman and LSCNRA Steering and Partner Committees Chairman John Nau III.
Other sessions at the conference included discussions on post-Hurricane Katrina activities, evaluating and communicating risk to the public, sea level rise, evacuation and emergency planning. In addition, several speakers addressed issues from New York due to impacts from Hurricane Sandy last year.
( Photo: Jim Blackburn, Mayor Annise Parker, Port of Houston Chairman Janiece Longoria, and Phil Bedient. )