A proposed Texas coastal barrier is drawing backlash from some Gulf Coast residents and the state’s land commissioner wants more time for property owners to voice concerns.
The plan is designed to protect the Texas coast from hurricanes with a barrier system of floodwalls, floodgates and seawall improvements. But hundreds of Bolivar Peninsula residents near Galveston are against it, fearing that a barrier would leave thousands of residents between a wall and the Gulf of Mexico, the Galveston County Daily News reports.
Hundreds of people lined up to sound off at a public hearing on Dec. 15 and drew such a big turnout that security officers stopped letting people into the building because of fire safety restrictions.
At issue for many residents is that computer files a coalition of environmental groups obtained from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers appear to show the barrier leaving entire neighborhoods exposed between the barrier and the Gulf of Mexico. Corps officials stressed during their presentation that plans for the placement of any barriers were not finalized.
“I’ve owned homes here since the ’80s and I’m offended,” David Wilkerson said. “This is bad, no matter what happens. If you build this thing on the beach, tourists will stop coming. If you move it back, our homes are unprotected.”
Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush has called for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to consider more time for public comment and another meeting for Bolivar residents.
Plans for a coastal barrier follow last year’s devastating Hurricane Harvey, which killed 68 people and caused an estimated $125 billion in damage statewide and flooded thousands of homes in the Houston area. A state report ordered by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and released last week warned that disasters like Harvey would continue to intensify because of a changing climate.
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