(Seabrook, Texas) In the early morning hours of September 13, 2008, Hurricane Ike made landfall in Seabrook, Texas, bringing with it a 12-foot storm surge and wind gusts up to 143 mph devastating the small coastal community situated between Houston and Galveston. The storm surge flooded hundreds of homes and businesses and completely inundated the city of Seabrook’s Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) located on Main Street (formerly 2nd Street) in the Old Seabrook District. The floodwaters and debris rendered the plant inoperable, preventing thousands of residents who had evacuated from returning home, and it would be several months before the WWTP was fully repaired.
It took a few years before most Seabrook residents and businesses recovered from the devastation of Hurricane Ike, and some never recovered. It would take several more years for the city to receive all the federal and state funding and grants that helped to rebuild Seabrook. Earlier this week, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) awarded the city of Seabrook $3.9 million through their Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) for a wastewater system infrastructure retrofit project. The wastewater system infrastructure retrofit project will be engineered to protect the city’s wastewater treatment plant by ensuring critical facilities remain operable during significant weather events, thus providing service to residents and businesses during and after a storm.
The grant will be awarded as a 75/25 percent match and will consist of two phases. During the first phase of the wastewater system retrofit project, FEMA will fund $2,966,036.25 of the project with a local match of $988,678.75. Phase one will consist of the engineering and design of the system and will be completed within 12 months. Upon completion, FEMA will review the engineering and design phase of the project for approval to allow the city to move into phase two of the project, which will include bidding and construction of the wastewater system retrofit. Phase two is an estimated total cost of $31,353,550 with a federal share of $23,515,162.50 and a local match of $7,838,387.50.
The wastewater system retrofit project will include a new wastewater facility located next to the Seabrook Public Works Complex on the northside of Seabrook, with a substantially higher elevation. The new facility will be named the Pine Gully Wastewater Treatment Plant (PGWWTP) and will be able to process 2.5 million gallons of wastewater per day, which is equivalent to the flow that is treated at the existing WWTP on Main Street.
The location of the PGWWTP is a less vulnerable location from a storm surge with a higher finished grade elevation and is further inland. The property where the plant will be located has been removed from the flood zone maps and is no longer identified as a special flood hazard area. Upon completion of the new facility, the existing facility on Main Street will be removed, and a wastewater lift station will be installed.
Both past and present City Councils alongside the city’s administration have been diligently working to secure this critical grant. The city has attempted to acquire this type of funding in the past to no avail. Securing the award is a testament to the hard work of Seabrook Mayor, Thom Kolupski, and city staff. The effort and time required to obtain the grant will drastically improve Seabrook’s defense during future storms.