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Posted on: September 19, 2017

Cost of Ike Dike is High…But So Are the Lives of Thousands

September 19, 2017

Cost of Ike Dike is high…but so are the lives of thousands
Counterpoint to Bob Stokes, Galveston Bay Foundation

(Mr. Stokes' original article can be found on the Houston Chronicle website)

As Mayor of Nassau Bay, I was troubled by Bob Stokes’ editorial suggesting the Rice SSPEED Center’s Centennial Gate concept be revisited “since funding for an Ike Dike may be problematic.” I have the greatest respect for Mr. Stokes and his accomplishments since taking on the role of President of the Galveston Bay Foundation (GBF). I personally participate and contribute to GBF (our City does the same), as many of their projects are of great impact to our Galveston Bay. Under Mr. Stokes’ guidance, I feel GBF has morphed from an organization of “just say no” to an effective force that puts its many backs and hands (volunteers and direct employees) where their mouth is.

While many in my community and fellow mayors around Galveston Bay are also staunch supporters of the Galveston Bay Foundation, we are near unanimously strong advocates of the coastal spine, “Ike Dike,” concept with 21 of our municipalities, and even more civic organizations, providing written endorsements. Moreover, many of us have formally rejected the Centennial Gate concept. The La Porte City Council was speaking clearly and for all of us when, in a resolution opposing the Centennial Gate, the Council stated it “does not accept the notion that areas of lower elevation seaward of Centennial Gate within any community fronting Galveston Bay should be considered collateral damage from the impact of a storm surge.” The Centennial Gate concept versus the Ike Dike concept has been carefully considered and has been laid to rest…and does not need to be debated again! It is counterproductive for Mr. Stokes to even raise that issue. Instead, we need to move forward and we are doing just that.

His ideas about costs are also questionable. He states that the Ike Dike “could theoretically protect ‘everyone,’ but might cost $15 billion or more.”  While I think it would be cost effective to protect everyone from surge at $15B, reliable cost estimates of the coastal spine range from $6B to $8B. With Harvey damage and recovery costs estimated as high as $180B, and the estimated cost of a major surge event surpassing $100B, costs of prevention in the $10s of billions seem very reasonable and cost effective - and let us not forget the human lives that will be saved.

Since Harvey, there has been a remarkable convergence of public and political opinion saying it is time to do something to reduce both fresh and salt water flooding in our region. Officials at the city, county, state, and federal levels have publicly endorsed action to reduce flooding. I believe that we now have the political will and public endorsement to work towards protecting our citizens and their families, as well as properties and jobs, from the devastating effects of flooding. Many possible actions have been proposed to reduce fresh water flooding from rain events, as well as to reduce hurricane-induced surges. It is increasingly clear the Ike Dike is an important component to solving our surge problems and should be part of our collective regional solution. We need to come together and work on solutions. I hope the Galveston Bay Foundation will resist falling back into the “just say no” habit of the past and support a solution of the future, overwhelmingly supported by so many cities (too numerous to mention), counties, state and federal.

Mark A. Denman
City of Nassau Bay

Read the PDF Version of Mayor Denman's Response Letter
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