Summary of "Hurricane Ike: What We Have Learned and Steps for The Future"
Date: September 13, 2010
Meeting on Sept 13, 2010, this one day event marked the second anniversary of Hurricane Ike making landfall on the Texas Gulf Coast. Experts from the private, public, and academic sectors presented the most recent research findings on the structural and non-structural solutions available for implementation. A special emphasis was placed on the importance of both short and long-term solutions.
This conference was unique in that it focused upon the temporal element of the region’s response to hurricanes, among other things. While much of the discussion post-Ike has been centered on a large-scale solution termed the “Ike Dike,” we at the SSPEED Center have been struck by the absence of thinking about short-term solutions as well as other alternative long-term solutions. As our community develops a response to severe storms, the importance of instituting both short and long term solutions should frame our planning.
With this focus in mind, speakers discussed their unique perspective on the subject. Mr. Blackburn started the conference by laying the conceptual framework for the day - that for capital intensive structural solutions like the Ike Dike, the coastal community will be left vulnerable by the extended time it takes to design, fund, permit and construct such a major feature, if it gets constructed at all. He contended there may be better ways to address storm surge and inland flooding, such as a mix of structural and non-structural alternatives that can be employed in less time, and can be provided lower cost.
Dr. Bedient brought to life the notion that there are many things the community can do quickly to increase the health and safety of its citizens. Recalling over a decade of experience managing a flood alert system at the Texas Medical Center, Dr. Bedient put forward the idea of creating a coastal flood alert system that would integrate hurricane storm surge with inland flooding. Similarly, Dr. Clint Dawson discussed the Advanced Circulation Model (ADCIRC) as the preeminent computer tool for predicting flooding as a tool that can be used to make intelligent land use decisions.
Tom Colbert and Kevin Shanley presented multiple scenarios where the community could institute relatively small scale structural and non-structural mitigation options for a level 4 hurricane. For example, for areas lower than five feet above sea level several recommendations were discussed:
- CREATE NATIONAL RECREATION AREA.
- PRESERVE AND PROTECT EXISTING COMMUNITIES.
- DEVELOP RECREATIONAL POTENTIALS.
- REALIZE FISH AND WILDLIFE BENEFITS.
- REALIZE FLOOD ABATEMENT BENEFITS.
- REALIZE CARBON SEQUESTRATION BENEFITS.
- CREATE NATIONAL BILOGICAL RESERVE FOR THE GULF COAST.
Dr. John Anderson continued speaking on the theme of land use options however he added the dimension of the natural properties of barrier islands and how that should influence planning. Ms. Lynn Scarlett, Visiting Scholar, Resources for the Future, discussed various governance structures for innovative land management schemes like a natural preserve.
Dr. John Pardue, LSU discussed the industrial implications from Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill on the Gulf Coast while Dr. Hanadi Rifai focused her comments on the impacts from Hurricane Ike on a major industrial setting - the Houston Ship Channel.
Mr. Bill Wheeler joined Dr.’s Lewis, Padgett and Wolshon to discuss housing development in the evacuation zone, the evacuation of the designated area and the important questions associated with the return of residents after a storm has come ashore. Special attention was placed on the critical transportation infrastructure required and the adequacy of plans to deal with citizens who have lost their homes and/or place of employment.