Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership hosted a Technical Workshop and Symposium for the Gulf Coast Community Protection and Recovery District at South Shore Harbour Resort & Conference Center on Thursday. The GCCPRD, formed by Texas Governor Rick Perry to study the feasibility of a storm surge protection system is managed by a board of directors comprised of the county judges of Orange, Jefferson, Chambers, Galveston, Harris and Brazoria counties. News Release
Len Waterworth, president and CEO of Dannenbaum Engineering Corporation and the general engineering consultant for the GCCPRD, welcomed the participants to the technical workshop.
Listen: Listen (4:49)
Owen Parker, program manager for Dannenbaum’s coastal division, and Rick van Adrichem, an intern supplied by the Dutch government, discussed the “North Texas Coastal Risk Compared to the Dutch Best Practices”. Listen (31:47)
Kevin C. Martin, managing director if Iv-Infra USA; Dave Weston, vice president and department manager of HDR Engineering, Inc.; and Peter Wijsman, program manager of ARCADIS U.S. Inc. participated in a panel discussion on the issues related to a storm surge protection system.
Herman J. Gesser, III; an attorney at law who spent several years on the staff of United States Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana; discussed “Lessons from Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Efforts”. Listen (51:17)
Dan Seal, executive director of special initiatives for BAHEP, thanked the sponsors of the event and introduced Galveston County Judge Mark Henry, who was the keynote speaker for the symposium. Listen (35:54)
“You know, today is quite historic,” Seal said. “Throughout history, more hurricanes have hit the upper Texas Gulf Coast on September 15th than on any other calendar day in the year.”
Owen Parker’s afternoon presentation was “Coastal Response to Hurricanes”.
Dale Morris, senior economist for the Royal Netherlands Embassy, discussed that country’s “Response to the 1953 Flood – Building the National Will”. Listen (38:41)
Helen Young, deputy commissioner of coastal resources for the Texas General Land Office, discussed “The Role of the GLO in Texas Coastal Protection”. Listen (31:47)
Colonel Christopher Sallese, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District, reported that the Sabine Pass to Galveston coastal erosion feasibility study has been identified for funding in the FY2012 Federal Budget and that the USACE is recommending that the scope of the project be expanded to encompass the six counties on the upper Texas coast and that the study be expanded to include a storm surge suppression component in addition to ecosystem restoration. Listen (32:33)
Dr. Phillip B. Bedient, director of Rice University’s Severe Storm Prediction, Education and Evacuation from Disasters (SSPEED) Center; and his faculty associate attorney Jim Blackburn, spoke on “Helping the Region Better Prepare For and Better Defend Against Storm Surge and Flooding”. Listen (25:26)
The final speaker at the symposium was Dr. William Merrell, chair of marine sciences at Texas A&M University at Galveston, who proposed the Ike Dike, a coastal spine storm surge protection system, following Hurricane Ike. Listen (19:55)
“We need to point out that we are affected by a major storm every 15 years,” Merrell noted. “So the question isn’t if, it’s when, we are going to get it next?”
Colonel Waterworth asked for questions prior to closing remarks to end the symposium.
“We talked about protecting people, protecting the environment, protecting the economy,” Waterworth said. “Is this worthy of your time? We have been very blessed in the United States; we have been blessed in Texas with what’s been handed to us. We have made a great living. What will we leave the next generation?”