Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Galveston poised to defy geologists

GALVESTON, TEXAS — Leaders of this fast-eroding barrier island — the scene of the deadliest hurricane in American history — are about to approve nearly 4,000 new homes and two midrise hotels despite geologists' warnings that the massive development would sever a ridge that serves as the island's natural storm shield.

...City officials "are choosing not to see anything that gets in the way of their precious tax dollars," said study co-author Tim Dellapenna, an assistant professor of marine geology at Texas A&M University. "But believe me, there is a protective ridge on Galveston Island, and this development would cut right through it."

The master-planned community, including a marina and possibly a golf course, would span more than 1,000 acres from the Gulf of Mexico shoreline to the backside overlooking Galveston Bay.

It would urbanize a large swath of the island's sparsely developed center and would lie outside a concrete seawall that protects the older section of the city from storm surges — a barrier built because of a deadly lesson in 1900.

Now I know the re-insurers have some pretty fancy ways to lay off their risk but how do you insure against stupidity?

From The Los Angeles Times