As the cost of living with hurricanes grows, coastal cities across the country are starting to ask the trillion dollar question: what can we build to protect ourselves, and how much are we willing to pay?

This week, producer Alexandria Herr takes us to Texas, where the largest civil engineering project in U.S. history may soon put those questions to the test. The Houston area is a sitting duck for a hurricane that scientists say could cause an environmental and economic catastrophe.  But the $31 billion “Ike Dike,” approved this summer by the House and Senate, would help protect the region. Will it be enough to prevent disaster? 


  • Kiah Collier, you can read the Peabody award winning reporting on the potential impacts of a hurricane on the Houston area for Propublica and the Texas Tribune here.
  • Dr. Bill Merrell is a professor emeritus at Texas A&M University at Galveston. 
  • Dr. Jim Blackburn is a professor in the practice of environmental law at Rice and co-director of the Severe Storm Prediction, Education & Evacuation from Disasters Center.

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