Texas needs to get ready for next ‘Big One’

A report documented by the Texas Tribune reveals something quite unsettling.

Five years after Hurricane Ike ravaged the Texas, the state still isn’t prepared to handle the next monster storm that assaults the coast from the Gulf of Mexico.


Hurricane Ike killed 37 Texans in 2008, causing more than $30 billion in damage and creating untold misery for many thousands of coastal residents and business owners. Is the state any better prepared for the next one? It is not, according to a Rice University storm research study.

I’m thinking it’s a bit past time for the state to put together a comprehensive response plan.

Of particular concern, according to the study, is the Houston Ship Channel, which has gotten busier during the five years since Ike stormed ashore. The channel did receive significant damage from Ike, but preparedness hasn’t improved.

I am acutely aware, of course, that the Texas Panhandle sits a great distance from the Gulf Coast. But do you remember the impact of Hurricane Katrina on our region? Residents from Louisiana migrated far from New Orleans to Amarillo to seek temporary shelter as the coastal region sought to recover from the devastation that Katrina brought in 2005.

Therefore, Houston-Galveston’s preparation for the next big storm could have a significant impact on the Panhandle.

As the Tribune reports, “The cost of doing nothing has already been demonstrated on the Texas Gulf Coast. When a massive hurricane wiped out thousands of people on Galveston Island more than a century ago, it shifted the balance of power from that coastal city to Houston.

“’We saw what happened to Galveston at the turn of the century,’ said Janiece Longoria, chairwoman of Houston’s Port Commission. ‘We can’t afford to gamble with the future in Houston.’”


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