Dr. William “Bill” Merrell receives Unsung Hero Award from the Galveston Chamber of Commerce

merrellDr. William “Bill” Merrell, Texas A&M at Galveston George P. Mitchell ’40 chair in marine sciences, was recently recognized with the Galveston Chamber of Commerce 2013 Unsung Hero Award.

Galveston Chamber of Commerce President Gina Spagnola said the award is well-deserved.

“Dr. Merrell is a true Galvestonian and unsung hero,” she said. “Behind the scenes, he’s conducted research, connected with international experts and collaborated with community members for numerous years to help protect Galveston from hurricanes and their devastating effects.”

Maureen Patton, executive director of The Grand 1894 Opera House and 2013 Chair of the Galveston Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Directors honored Merrell during the chamber award ceremony.

“I’m sure all of you are familiar with the term Ike Dike, a regional hurricane surge suppression barrier for the Houston/Galveston area that has the potential to protect our region from the devastating effects of storm surges from future hurricanes,” Patton said. “But do you know who is responsible for it? We’d like to honor Dr. Bill Merrell, a professor at Texas A&M University at Galveston, with our 2013 Unsung Hero Award.”

Merrell said he is privileged to be recognized by the Galveston Chamber of Commerce for his efforts.

“This award recognizes Texas A&M at Galveston’s commitment to advance the Ike Dike concept,” he said. “Just as the citizens of Galveston rallied to create a sea wall after the devastating 1900 storm, they have supported our efforts to employ the most successful technologies practiced by world experts from the Netherlands to prevent storm surge devastation for the entire region.”

Coastal surge suppression is the most important public policy matter today for this region, for Texas and the nation,” he said. “The Ike Dike is a huge step in moving forward to address coastal surge that will reap economic benefits locally, regionally and nationally.”

In a region hit by a major hurricane about every 15 years, loss of life and considerable damage to the built and natural environment is significant in Galveston and the surrounding region. In 2008, Hurricane Ike’s storm surge killed more than 80 people and caused more than $30 billion in damages.

The university is leading Ike Dike research through its Center for Texas Beaches and Shores using partnerships with the University of Houston’s Bauer Institute for Regional Forecasting; Mississippi’s Jackson State University’s Homeland Security Center of Excellence in Coastal Hazards and the Netherlands’ Delft University of Technology’s Department of Hydraulic Engineering. For more information about Merrell’s Ike Dike studies, go to http://www.tamug.edu/ikedike/