A grant from the Houston Endowment will allow the Rice University Severe Storm Prediction, Education and Evaluation from Disasters Center to continue its research into the area's hurricane patterns, potentially leading to safety improvements for Houston properties. The SSPEED Center began researching hurricanes in the wake of Ike, two years ago, according to the endowment. The storm caused $30 billion in damage, killed 112 people in the U.S., and left roughly 2.6 million area residents without power. However, the center said that the damage could have been much worse. Ike was only a category 2 storm on the Saffir-Simpson scale “The Houston-Galveston region could have easily suffered catastrophic loss of life and property with a different landfall location. The need to predict impacts from storms approaching Galveston Bay has never been greater given the vulnerability of our coastal development and the Houston Ship Channel,” said the center's Phil Bedient. A stronger ability to predict storms could improve the Houston area's general safety level, allowing for more extensive preparation in the event of another storm like Ike.