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Build Your House on the Rock and your Sand Dunes Too!

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By Bill Sargent

The Post Newspaper Contributing Writer

I was reading Matthew Chapter seven the other day and, as often happens, the Lord showed me an insight.  I’d like to share it with you.  In the passage Jesus is talking about a wise man who built his house on a rock and when the rains came and the flood waters rose, that house stood firm against the storm. He compares this to the man who built his house on the sand and when the rains came, and the flood waters too, that house was swept away by the torrents. [Matthew 7:24-27]

It occurred to me that in addition to the passage talking about placing our trust and faith in the Lord, it also applies directly to the plans the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has for the building of the coastal barrier system, commonly called the “Ike Dike.”  The Corps is proposing a series of natural sand dunes, dunes that are not reinforced.  Experience has shown, especially on the west end of Galveston Island, that the force of storm surge decimates sand dunes.  Even environmental “tubes” used as barriers are unable to withstand the forces of nature.

I’ve been working with the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership that has been fighting for the Ike Dike ever since Dr. Bill Merrill came up with the concept.  We all believe that a key to protecting Galveston Island and mainland is the provision of a natural system of dunes. But unlike what the Corps is recommending, we believe it is imperative that we use “fortified” dunes.  These would be an inverted “T” of concrete and boulders covered by sand and native grasses.  When the storms come and the sand is washed away, the inner core of the dune will continue to provide protection (e.g. building them on the “rock”).  Yes, the sand will need to be replaced – as it will be with the unfortified dunes the Corps is proposing – but the protection will remain in place. It is what we have seen in the Netherlands and so we know it works.

I would suggest that the Corps change its paradigm, taking the wisdom found in Matthew 7:24-27, and building the dunes on a firm foundation that will withstand the forces of hurricanes instead of building the dunes on the sand and having them wash away leaving our coast exposed and unprotected.

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