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Monday, September 22, 2008

Aftermath

It's been 10 days since Hurricane Ike slammed into Galveston with a 15 foot storm surge and 110 MPH winds. For people on the island, time has stood still. From here in North Georgia, I cannot comprehend the situation. I see areas that were home for 6 years and can't believe what I see. Other areas that were home for over 14 years are just as bad or worse.

Fortunately for us, the house wasn't damaged. But just a couple of miles to the east, everything else was. The Kemah Boardwalk was torn apart. I always understood that the boards were designed to break away in a bad storm to leave the framework behind. I think the storm surge was too great even for the framework. It was good to hear Mr. Fertitta say that he expected a storm like Ike would come some day and he will rebuild.

Landry's Restaurant in Kemah was able to claim that it survived hurricanes for over 100 years without a scratch. Not anymore. Landry's flooded and the ground floor was gutted.

Todville Rd. in Seabrook is to the left. I drove on this road every day. Even though flooding was common there, it is still unsettling to see so much water flooding these expensive homes.

The Island is even worse. The Balinese Room was a landmark. An old speakeasy from the 1920's that saw performers such as Frank Sinatra. A gambling hall like one straight out of the movies with game tables that converted to regular dining table when the warning came in that the "coppers" were at the door. The long pier provided time to rearrange everything to look legit before anything was discovered. It is gone...completely. One news reporter suggested that maybe it could be rebuilt. Well a new building could be erected, a new Hooters can be added next door to replace the one that was blown away too, but the history can never be replaced.


Galveston tried a look and leave policy early this week and had to cancel it within a few hours because the traffic was backed up over 10 miles. The city has been asking for one additional week to get some systems and some of the infrastructure working before people return. Today I saw that the city is allowing a "look & leave" for the West End now. I still have not seen how the west end has fared. Are many homes left? The beach houses and light sand was beautiful. I wonder now what is left.

Surfside Beach is a small community that was under 4 feet of water the day before the rain and wind even started. Authorities were able to force everyone out with the exception of one man who admitted that staying was "just plain stupid." The Weather Channel was expecting that once Ike came ashore there would be no more town. I think Ike moved just east enough that Surfside is still there but badly beaten.

Bolivar Peninsula is on the other side side of Galveston, across a straight known as Bolivar Roads, was essentially wiped clean. A few homes remain including one that got some special attention because it was rebuilt after Rita to withstand a Cat 5 storm. A moonscape exists around it.

Further east in Orange, caskets were unearthed in one cemetery. A levee broke on the Sabine River and flooded down town. Bridge City had 8 feet of water in it. The storm surge hit all the way easy to Alabama flooding New Orleans and Lake Charles, LA. Several hundred people had to be rescued in Louisiana even though the storm came ashore in Texas. Because of the physical size of Ike, the storm surge was nearly that expected for a Cat 4 storm even though Ike's winds almost reached a Cat 3 (1 mph short). Never before has a storm affected such a broad area of coastline at one one time.

Right now it is believed that approximately 61 people have died due to Ike. Approximately 50 people are missing. With the number of people who stayed behind, I can't help but wonder if these numbers will climb much higher.

I've avoided posting on recovery efforts because so much is happening so quickly and I am so far removed that I don't want to risk publishing information that is incorrect or out of date. It feels weird when I look at pictures or read the news. I am learning to make Georgia my new home but Galveston and Orange will always be special places to me, where family and friends struggle with recovery.

So I ask that for everyone who lost so much and for everyone who was lost -- pray.

Storm Watch with: Mark My Words, Rosemary's Thoughts, A Blog For All, Right Truth, DragonLady's World, Shadowscope, Leaning Straight Up, Cao's Blog, NN&V, Democrat=Socialist, Diary of the Mad Pigeon, , third world county, Woman Honor Thyself, The World According to Carl, The Pink Flamingo, WingLeSS, CORSARI D'ITALIA, and Stageleft, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.

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