Sunday, October 26, 2008

Brazoria County, TX

I have wanted to explore the coastal towns and beaches of Texas for several years. Now that Deb and I are in Texas, and our disaster relief commitments in Houston have wound down, 'tis the time it would appear.

We drove into Galveston on Wednesday, October 22nd, a bit over 5 weeks after Hurricane Ike had made landfall.

Let's just say that the boats that were lining the causeway as you come into Galveston are finally being removed.


There's going to be plenty of cleanup and reconstruction in Galveston for years to come.

When we were in Galveston the last time (a few weeks ago) we headed north to the ferry to Ft. Bolivar. At that time the ferry was closed to the general public and it still is. Bodies are reportedly being found, buried under the rubble of the Bolivar Peninsula, almost daily. Residents can now go to Bolivar (until recently it was just the authorities) although tourists and looky lous are being kept out. The curfew was until 2PM; I hear it's been extended to 6PM.

Yeah, things sound grim over on the Bolivar Peninsula.

This time instead of heading north we headed south and drove along the beach strand and the famous Galveston Seawall.

Residences along the highway in southern Galveston were severely damaged. The Red Cross still has a feeding center near the end of the island, and FEMA has an RV with a satellite antenna for communications. Few businesses were open. Debris were piled up (notice the side of the road-you see mile upon mile of stacks of debris).

We then crossed the toll bridge (which was untended and not collecting tolls) at the end of Galveston Island and where you cross over into Brazoria County. Immediately we came to a sign that said that the road was closed. Being the shy types that we are we pushed on.

That roughly 25 mile stretch of coastal road running to the little town of Surfside Beach is pretty much gone for a significant portion of it's existence. There are sections ranging from a lane to a few hundreds of yards that are missing, but at one point the highway vanished completely and we were routed out onto the beach itself. Construction trucks are also using the beach strand as a makeshift highway so things get entertaining when you are on what is essentially one lane of packed sand and meeting a Mack dump truck.

This took up an entire lane. Trust me, you don't want to be driving out here at night:

Notice that the road ends completely and that traffic, such as it is, is being routed to the right. This was fairly intense - we followed a family in a Jeep that decided to turn around, but the local construction guys in their pickups just plowed on.

Finally, the road just ran out and we drove for maybe 5 miles on the beach. Notice the heavy traffic.

Yeah, right.

Also notice how desolate this area is, the trash piled up, and the few standing houses in the background:

Alas, things weren't all fun and games. We did witness one poor schmuck getting his car pulled out with a bulldozer. I hear that once you've turned your Toyota into a salt water submarine then they are never the same:

Enough of the road, which will have to be rebuilt. Take a look at the houses. Notice the lean on this first one, and no, the photographer was neither drunk nor standing with one foot in a hole when the photo was shot:

Here's another one that just don't look quite right:

And this one, which is now accessible primarily by boat:

As bad as those examples are, they are rebuildable. We ran across the following in the otherwise charming seaside village of Surfside Beach, Texas. Notice the pile of rubble where a house once stood:

And finally, this is sad. No amount of polish is going to buff out the damage to this family's home.

Let's keep the good people of coastal Texas in our thoughts.

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