Harvey Renews Talk of Massive Coastal Dike

There's talk again of building a massive dike or "coastal spine" to protect the Houston region from storm surge during future hurricanes.

Supporters of a dike say Harvey was a warning, pointing to the storm surge from Hurricane Ike.

“The cost is somewhere between $11-14 billion to build it, but if you just look at Hurricane Ike, there was $30 billion in damage and $27 billion was storm surge, it would have paid for itself,” says Bob Mitchell at the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership.

“Hurricane Ike was unique, there was five to six feet of water pushed into the bay and when you have that hurricane come in and push another eight to ten feet of water, it compounds the issue.”

Mitchell defends the price tag of a coastal spine by pointing out its success in the Netherlands.

“So during high tide you close the gates so the rain water can drift into the bays, you open the gates at low tide so it can flow out,” he says.  “You're not going stop all the flooding, especially when you get 50 inches of rain, but you can control the amount of water.”

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner says Harvey could have been much worse if it had made landfall closer to home.  He's urging congressional leaders to find the money to help build it.

“We cannot talk about rebuilding if we do not build this coastal spine, that has to be part of the equation,” says Turner.

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