In the aftermath of Hurricane Ike -- which caused more than $30 billion and killed more than 30 people -- cities across the region have boasted about their rebuilding efforts.
But this week experts with Rice University's Severe Storm Prediction, Education and Evacuation from Disasters Center said preparedness efforts may have even worsened in the last few years, due in part to growth in the Houston Channel that is occurring without appropriate hurricane safeguards.
Exports for the state of Texas -- which have prompted the dramatic growth of industry in the Houston Ship Channel -- have exceeded even those of New York City. While the growth is an economic engine for the state, some researchers worry that a direct-hit hurricane would wreak havoc on the channel's chemical and oil storage tanks, leading to spills and an environmental catastrophe.
Researchers with the SSPEED Center say if Hurricane Ike made everyone realize just how exposed and vulnerable the Houston-Galveston area is in the face of a major storm. If the hurricane had made landfall just 50 miles down the Texas coast, the devastation and death caused by what was already one of the most destructive hurricanes in U.S. history would have quadrupled.
In a book written and edited by the research center, Lessons from Hurricane Ike, Director Phil Bedient and his research team say Ike made everyone realize just how exposed and vulnerable the Houston-Galveston area is in the face of a major storm.
The book gathers the work some of the premier researchers in the fields of hurricane prediction and impact, summarizing it in accessible language accompanied by abundant illustrations -- not just graphs and charts -- but dramatic photos and informative maps.
Check it out here (link to book's page on website).
Read more about the recent discussion of hurricane preparedness in Texas Tribune.