Galveston Still Rebuilding as Hurricane Season Starts
Can Galveston take another hit? The City still hasn't recovered from Ike. There are neighborhoods that are still leveled. Some have not returned and probably won't if they haven't by now. There was one house standing in Gilchrist, today that house is still the only house there, the owners want their neighbors backs they stated on GMA this morning.
As the 2009 hurricane season begins, people around the U.S. will be bracing themselves once again for nature's wrath, but residents of Galveston County, an area destroyed twice by hurricanes, are still working to rebuild after Ike's destruction last year.
In the early morning of September 13, 2008, Hurricane Ike made landfall near Galveston County, Texas. The category 2 storm brought winds of 110 mph and widespread floods to the coastal town. Causing an estimated $21 billion in damages, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration considers Ike the third costliest natural disaster in the United States after Hurricanes Katrina and Andrew.
More than eight months later, the people living in Galveston are still cleaning up the mess.
Galveston mayor Lyda Ann Thomas confirms the city's commitment to rebuilding, but acknowledges the process might not be as swift as some might hope.
"People are helping with cleanup, building fences, putting the businesses back," Thomas said. "People in Galveston have come together and we are determined to recover. It's going to be a one to five-year process."
Rebuilding a city nearly destroyed by storms and so vulnerable to future ones might seem futile, but for many Galveston residents, staying and rebuilding their community is the only option.
Although they thought about leaving Galveston, Craig and Angela Brown felt reopening their coffee shop was a way to reunite the people in their community.
"This is my home," Craig Brown said. "Our friends are here. That tie to home is so important to individuals. Feeling that you are part of something and helping develop something: that's why decided to stay."
On the morning of September 13, 2008, the eye of Hurricane Ike approached the upper Texas coast, making landfall at 2:10 a.m. CDT over the east end of Galveston Island, with a high storm surge, and travelled north up Galveston Bay, along the east side of Houston. People in low-lying areas who had not heeded evacuation orders, in single-family one- or two-story homes, were warned by the weather service that they may "face certain death" from the overnight storm surge,a statement that turned out to be true for some who refused to evacuate.
In regional Texas towns, electrical power began failing on Sept. 12 before 8 p.m. CDT,leaving millions without power (estimates range from 2.8 million to 4.5 million customers). Grocery store shelves in the Houston area were left empty for weeks in the aftermath of the storm.
In Galveston, by 4 p.m. CDT (2100 UTC) on September 12, the rising storm surge began overtopping the 17-ft (5.2 m) Galveston Seawall, which faces the Gulf of Mexico; waves had been crashing along the seawall earlier, from 9 a.m. CDT. Although Seawall Boulevard is elevated above the shoreline, many areas of town slope down behind the seawall to the lower elevation of Galveston Island.
Even though there were advance evacuation plans, Mary Jo Naschke, spokesperson for the city of Galveston, estimated that (as of Friday morning) a quarter of the city's residents paid no attention to calls for them to evacuate, despite predictions that most of Galveston Island would suffer heavy flooding storm tide. By 6 p.m. Friday night, estimates varied as to how many of the 58,000 residents remained, but the figures of remaining residents were in the thousands. Widespread flooding included downtown Galveston: six ft (2 m) deep inside the Galveston County Courthouse, and the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston was flooded. Tourist attractions on the island suffered various degrees of damage. The Lone Star Flight Museum suffered massive damage, as the storm surge washed through the airport and hangars with about 8 feet of water, and the recently completed Schlitterbahn Water Park was still closed in November 2008;however, Moody Gardens was built with storms in mind and was able to withstand the worst of the storm.