Delft University of Technology, Royal HaskoningDHV and Iv-Infra explore Houston storm surge barrier

Posted: Wednesday 25th September 2013

Exactly five years ago Hurricane Ike caused enormous damage in and around Houston and Galveston in the US state of Texas. With more than $38 billion in damage and over 100 deaths, Ike ranks third in the list of the costliest hurricanes in US history. But it could have been a lot worse. With more than two million inhabitants, Houston is not only the fourth largest city in the United States, it is also the centre of the oil and gas industry.

The Port of Houston fulfils a crucial economic role and generates around $178 million in revenues each year. Given the vulnerability of the area, it is a question of when rather than whether the city will again be hit by a major hurricane. This makes good coastal defences essential. The Dutch Delft University of Technology, Royal HaskoningDHV and Iv Infra are exploring possible designs for a storm surge barrier off the coast of Houston.

The Ike Dike concept

Immediately after Hurricane Ike, Professor Bill Merrell of the Texas A&M University developed and unveiled the ‘Ike Dike’ concept. A key element of the concept is a movable storm surge barrier that can seal off the bay near Galveston and Houston during a hurricane. Under normal conditions the bay provides a passage to the Port of Houston, so it must remain accessible for shipping. Another matter of great importance is the preservation of the ecosystems in the bay. Which types of flood barriers are buildable to protect the Houston/Galveston area optimally against storm surges? This is the question that the Delft University of Technology, Royal HaskoningDHV and Iv-Infra are currently examining on behalf of principals in Texas.




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