The Ike Dike is a coastal barrier that, when completed, would protect the Houston-Galveston region including Galveston Bay from hurricane storm surge.
The project was conceived by Professor Bill Merrell of Texas A&M University at Galveston in response to the extensive surge damage caused by Hurricane Ike in September of 2008. The project would extend the protection afforded by the existing Galveston Seawall along the rest of Galveston Island and along the Bolivar Peninsula, with a 17ft high revetment near the beach or raising the coastal highways. The addition of flood gates at Bolivar Roads, the entrance to the Houston, Texas City, and Galveston ship channels, and at San Luis pass would complete a coastal spine that would provide a barrier against all Gulf surges into the Bay. Merrell argues that the Ike Dike could be built using existing, proven technology such as the gates and barriers currently used in the Delta Works project located in the Netherlands.
The Houston/Galveston area is home to the largest and most important concentration of petroleum refining and petrochemical processing plants in the United States and the Port of Houston is the second-busiest port in the nation. But the region is hit by a major hurricane about every 15 years. Hurricane Ike caused about $30 billion in damages, loss of life and considerable damage to the natural environment, yet it was not nearly as destructive as future hurricanes could be.
The Perryman Report estimates that a “Katrina-like” storm would cause aggregate losses to the Texas economy of $73 billion in gross product, $61.3 billion in income and 863,000 jobs. The economic damage to the United States would be nationally serious. The Governor’s Commission on Recovery and Renewal reviewed the Ike Dike concept and recommended that a six county public corporation be formed on the upper Texas coast to deal with storm surge and regional recovery strategies.
Merrell and others have provided numerous interviews for articles and news clips since the inception of the Ike Dike concept. He has also written fiction; for example, The Boating Party, a one act play that is available free for any chartable or educational use.