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Today’s Ike updates

Paul Burka will be flying over Galveston today. He has a report on the scene via a phone conversation with Galveston’s State Rep. Craig Eiland:

Behind the seawall, the worst damage was from flooding north of Broadway. Galveston floods from the bay, not the Gulf. Water in Shearn Moody Plaza, the gleaming white building at the end of The Strand that once served as the Santa Fe depot, stood 14 feet deep-and in The Strand as well. The ground is barely 2 feet above sea level here. Many of the historic buildings suffered water damage. The University of Texas Medical Branch had four feet of water and no electricity. There is a boat marooned on Broadway, and a ship container is high and dry as well. Wind damage was minimal; Eiland did not board up the windows at his law office and no windows were broken. Homes between the seawall and Broadway generally had no water damage. Streets are clear of debris. Some may have seen Geraldo Rivera report that waves breaking over the seawall had gouged chunks of asphalt out of the pavement in front of the San Luis: not true, Craig said. Seawall Boulevard suffered damage at its western end, where the road veers right to link up with FM 3005. On East Beach, where the island is accreting, Craig said that the Beach Town development — in FRONT of the seawall — had no damage. New construction in Galveston must meet extremely high building code standards.

There’s more, so check it out. Burka also has a report from Mimi Swartz, who has the good news that the area’s historic buildings, as well as the tall ship Elissa, collectively suffered little damage. At least that’s something.

I also have a release from Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, which is printed beneath the fold.

Matt Glazer reports that the Capitol Area Food Bank has been depleted by Hurricane Ike and is in desperate need of a variety of items:

Items requested:

1. bottled water
2. granola bars
3. canned meats (pop-top lids)
4. peanut butter
5. diapers & wipes (adult and baby)
6. personal care items (toothpaste, toothbrush, feminine products, soap, shampoo, conditioner, etc.)

Most needed items: Peanut Butter, Larger-size Diapers & Dog Food (many evacuees have dogs).

Donate at the Food Bank through Friday, September 19 and at the H-E-B at Parmer Food Drive on Wednesday, September 17. A drop box is available at the Food Bank for after hours donations.

They also need volunteers – contact Paige DeLeon to help.

Apparently, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Mike Chertoff will be in town today.

Chertoff, who first visited Texas on Saturday after Ike made landfall, appears likely to hear some criticism of the Federal Emergency Management Agency after Houston Mayor Bill White and Harris County Judge Ed Emmett took control late Tuesday of how the agency will distribute supplies to those in need.

While they declined to say what caused delays, Harris County’s two top officials said they knew something had to be done after thousands of Hurricane Ike victims were turned away empty-handed after waiting all day to receive food, water, ice and tarps to cover damaged rooftops.

Vowing to avoid a repeat of that today, Emmett and White established 26 distribution sites, eliminating and consolidating others to ensure that supplies would make it well before the sites open to waiting people.


Up to half of the Houstonians currently without electricity may still be in the dark next Tuesday, according to predictive models used by the region’s largest utility company, a spokesman announced Tuesday.

Floyd LeBlanc, vice president of communications for CenterPoint Energy, said about 1.46 million people in Houston are still without power

The company has restored power to 690,000 of its 2.2 million customers. By Sept. 23, between 550,000 and 1.1 million will still be without power, he said.

“We still have a lot of work ahead of us,” he said. “We’re working around the clock.”

About 8,500 workers from 25 states and Canada are on overlapping 16-hour shifts to restore electricity. The total number of workers is expected to reach 10,000 today, LeBlanc said.

He asked drivers to yield as much space on the road to utility trucks as possible.

“These are big trucks; they can’t turn on a dime,” he said.

That just boggles my mind. I don’t know what to say other than I hope they achieve the high end of their estimated number of reconnections by then.

Finally, Houtopia wonders if anyone outside Texas is paying attention.

We have seen comments on the Chronicle Web site from Houstonians staying in other parts of the country who cannot believe the lack of media attention to this catastrophic event. It is as if we too are victims of the vapid 24-hour news cycle in which our country is trapped. The national press has moved on from Ike; unfortunately, we’re stuck with him.

Sure, Anderson Cooper and some of the national media were here when the storm actually hit, for the dramatic video, but where are they now? Do they know that over 70% of people in this region are without electricity? Do they know there are serious shortages of ice, water, food and gasoline here? Do they understand that whole communities have been totally wiped out? Do they care?

Well, I can tell you that Ike has been front-page headline news on both of the newspapers my parents receive, the Oregonian (today’s header is “‘No ice, no water, no electricity, no nothing'”) and the Columbian. The local TV news has been running stories, as has the Today show, which my parents watch in the morning. I don’t know about CNN and that crowd, but at least here in Portland we’ve seen quite a bit of coverage. For what it’s worth.

The following is a brief overview of all Hurricane Ike-related activities at the Texas General Land Office Tuesday, September 16. This update will be issued daily as Texas continues to recover from Hurricane Ike.

The Texas General Land Office is the state agency responsible for overseeing the Texas coast, erosion control and response as well as oil spill prevention and recovery. The Land Office also oversees enforcement of the Texas Open Beaches Act, the Dune Protection Act and works to maintain healthy beaches.

“Our top priority today is simply to observe and evaluate the conditions on the coast, aid in search and rescue operations that are still on-going and to find and respond to any oil spills,” Patterson said. “But as we move forward, it’s clear that Texas needs to change how it manages its coast.”

Patterson pointed to the success of a $2 million project just completed in late August to buffer the Village of Surfside from the Gulf’s waves.

“Ike has shown that protecting the coast, where it makes economic sense, saves public infrastructure and private property. The Village of Surfside is proof,” Patterson said. “This storm will serve to redouble my efforts to secure a permanent, long-term source of funding for the Texas coast.”

Also Tuesday, Patterson decided to delay any actions, or approval of, the proposed beach and dune rules designed to encourage local communities to develop erosion control plans that use construction set-backs to moderate development in the coastal zone.

Other developments Tuesday for the General Land Office are listed below.

Public Heath and Safety:

  • Oil Spill personnel operating in Jefferson and Orange Counties will be conducting pollution, sunken vessel and waterway safety assessments in Orange, Bridge City, Cow Bayou and Double Bayou.
  • Houston/Galveston response teams will be operating in the Houston Ship Channel, Freeport, Texas City/Galveston and Dickinson performing the same mission.
  • An Oil Spill employee is attached to USCG command operations in Katy and another will soon be attached to the joint USEPA, TCEQ, USCG and GLO operations center on Galveston Island at Ball High School.
  • Information System GIS support continues at Reliant, La Porte and Port Arthur.

Coastal Stewardship

  • On a bright note, the wheelchair ramp the Land Office is building on the Galveston Seawall seems to have weathered the storm with only minimal damage.
  • Coastal Resources staff conducted overflights on and documented damage through some 300 still photos and a video.
  • Planning for post-storm photographic missions is under way. The missions will require high resolution, georectified, and color infrared to assess debris, damaged structure, shoreline, dune, and vegetation line changes.
  • Corpus Christi office is assist in advising customers on how to apply for emergency permitting.
  • Land Office Director of Coastal Stewardship Eddie Fisher waded into the Gulf in his khakis to rescue a baby dolphin near Galveston.
  • The Coastal and Uplands leasing group is evaluating a recommendation for rebuilding structures (residential, commercial, and industrial) and begin preparing a recommendation for rental adjustments to lease fees.

Energy Resources

  • Energy Inspection staff is inspecting Double Bayou and possibly Smith Point with Coast Guard for damage.
  • Austin staff coordinating GIS with Well Inventory to identify potential responsible parties for spills if reported.
  • Austin staff also working to ascertain the status of all hydrocarbon production on state submerged lands. Most wells at this point have been temporarily shut down.

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  1. becky says:

    I remember when we flooded during Allison and I was struck at how our lives just stopped while the rest of the country went on. It was a very lonely feeling.

  2. Houston Public Library Liberal says:

    I’ve always felt a measure of cultural distance from Texas Monthly.

    People in Cincinnati are paying attention because Ike knocked power there as well.

    I’m not certain I’d bank much on Anderson Cooper and CNN caring over the long haul. Maybe they should ask to what extent we have cared about own community over the years. Many problems pre-existed this storm.

  3. Andrea says:

    I am thankful for the national coverage during the storm. My power went out at 1:15 am, so I had to rely on my parents in South Carolina to tell me what was going on outside my window. My mom is the one who let me know about the water boiling advisory.