Sep 13, 2023 - News

Ike Dike's progress is slow 15 years after hurricane

An Air Force Reserve pararescueman from the 920th Rescue Wing scans the landscape of Nederland, Texas in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike, 13 September 2008

Hurricane Ike struck Texas 15 years ago. Photo: Paul Flipse/US Air Force via Getty Images

It's been 15 years since Hurricane Ike thrashed the Texas coast and spurred a push for a coastal barrier to protect the region from devastating storm surge.

Driving the news: Wednesday marks the anniversary of the hurricane's landfall over Galveston Bay, which wreaked havoc across Southeast Texas, leaving more than 70 dead in Texas and causing more than $30 billion in damage in the U.S.

Catch up quick: A proposed coastal barrier, nicknamed the Ike Dike after the 2008 storm, is still struggling to find federal funding.

  • The spine would be a collection of floodgates, levees and other physical barriers to protect much of the Gulf Coast, including the Port of Houston and the region's vulnerable petrochemical facilities.
  • The project would cost $31 billion and take up to a decade to construct.

Yes, but: The proposed barriers wouldn't be able to withstand all storms, especially in light of the changing climate.

The intrigue: Recent pushes in Congress to get even relatively small amounts of federal funding have stalled, despite the project receiving congressional approval in 2022.

  • Rep. Randy Weber, a Republican representing Galveston, asked the House Committee on Appropriations in June to allocate $100 million toward the project in the federal government's Fiscal Year 2024 budget.
  • The committee denied his request. Weber said Republicans' push to reduce federal spending could create even more hurdles for funding the Ike Dike, per the Texas Tribune.

What they're saying: "I am committed to continuing the fight for this very necessary project because it is not 'if there is another storm but when,'" Weber wrote in a Galveston County Daily News op-ed. "The Ike Dike will not only protect our community and the state of Texas from another disaster but the entire nation's fuel supply."

Of note: Both Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn have supported the project since its initial proposal.

Meanwhile, the Ike Dike project received part of the $550 million allocated by the state Legislature to storm protection projects this past session, per the Houston Chronicle.

State of play: Southeast Texas has so far been spared this hurricane season, which lasts through the end of November.


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