A friend of mine who is a homebuilder in The Woodlands passes along the following regarding his experience in overseeing a crew rebuilding the neighborhood of his weekend home in Hurricane Ike-ravaged Galveston:
Just back from Galveston after 3 weeks. We suffered ancillary damage, but nothing structurally damaging. I went down with 80 rds of .40 cal and came back with a clip and a half.
Snakes have taken over the dunes for now. Devastation is everywhere and we are helping some 61 homes get their lives back together. I have simply never seen such damage.
When you drive over the Galveston Causeway Bridge, you are confronted with hundreds of boats of all sizes lining the road, the median and the bay. Most homes inside the seawall suffered 10 feet of flooding, especially in the historic Strand District. Downtown Beirut in the 1980’s looked better.
Moving to the seawall, the historic Balinese Room is gone. The Flagship Hotel lost its entry way and appears to be a total loss. Power and water are spotty — I went 2 weeks without either. Traveling to our West End home is like driving through the Northeast after a winter storm — sand is piled 10 feet high along both lanes and you sense you are in a fantasy winter wonderland.
Many properties immediately off the seawall are totally destroyed, sitting in the Gulf. You can literally walk under their foundations. Stench and foul orders are everywhere — even the stoutest are easily overcome. It will be years, if ever, before Galveston will be restored or hopefully rebuilt to a higher standard. The homes built in the last 5 years according to the 160 mph wind standard suffered little damage, but most others were severely damaged or lost completely. Our crews have worked 16 hrs./day for 3 weeks to restore our neighborhood and are moving to help others at this time. The bright spot is that I have come to know my fellow homeowners in our neighborhood quite well.
The old site of the SeaArama Marineworld is now a landfill with three mounds that could easily fill the Astrodome. I have no idea what they will do with this matter as cranes are working 60’ above street level at this time. We have brought in heavy equipment and crews from The Woodlands to Junction, Texas. The cowboys from Junction say they have never seen rattlers so big.
We completely lost our dunes, which were over 15’ high. It now looks like we are seaside in Malibu.
Reporting from an R and R encampment, I remain . . .
And as bad as the damage is in Galveston, the devastation in Bolivar Peninsula to the northeast is even worse.