Galveston Prepares For Next Big Storm

GALVESTON, Texas - It's been nearly three years since Hurricane Ike tore through Galveston, and since then, the community has been busy rebuilding and making sure it's better prepared for the next big storm.

"Obviously, Ike pointed out some weaknesses the city had," said Alicia Cahill, the city of Galveston spokeswoman. "Hopefully, when the next storm comes, we won't have those systemic system-wide failures."

After Hurricane Ike, problems with the water supply kept many island residents from returning home, so now there's a focus on safe water supplies and secure sewer systems.

"We are rebuilding our waste water treatment plant. We have brought online a pump station that was under construction during Ike," said Cahill, who added that stimulus funds helped the city build elevated storage tanks for water.

A new street light system is also in place that would synchronize the lights if an evacuation is needed.

Cahill reminded residents there is a free evacuation program for people who cannot independently leave the island. Those who need help need to register now for a ride to shelters in Austin. They will be able to take some belongings and their pets when a hurricane threatens the Galveston coast.

While the city has taken steps to be better prepared for the next storm, one expert said more needs to be done to protect families from the storm surge.

"We have lost a lot of people to surge in this area," said storm scientist and Texas A&M professor, William Merrill.

He said the answer could be flood gates, something he calls an Ike Dike. He plans to travel to the Netherlands to further study that region's dike systems.

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