The Sentinel City: A Multivalent Resiliency Plan For Houston, Texas
Sentinel Cities are the first metropoles in the United States to exhibit signs of climate change-related stress. Each Sentinel has a unique set of problems to overcome. In Houston these are climate-augmented storms and sea level rise, which subject its residents to compound flood vulnerability from drastic rainfall and storm surge. Today, Houston is subject to several underlying systemic weaknesses inherited from the city’s unchecked growth, which make the urban populace particu- larly vulnerable to flood events. The most acclaimed proposal to mitigate flood risk Houston is the “Ike Dike” Coastal Spine, a system of flood barriers and gates modeled after the 20th century Delta Works of Holland as precedent. Further interrogation of the Dutch model as precedent reveals deep differences between the Texas flood problem and that of the Netherlands, while also revealing aspects of the Delta Plan that Houston could emulate. A multivalent resiliency strategy for Houston can imitate these methods while also ensuring success in the distinct Texas social and political climate. This report explores a scheme called the String of Pearls, a strategy to incentivize sustainable growth in Houston while building emergency preparedness into the very fabric of the city.