Sunday, October 12, 2008

Trip to Galveston to see damage

Yesterday we went to Galveston to look at the damage to the island. In some ways, it is what I expected but then when you look around, the older houses withstood the storm and had very little in the way of major damage done to them.

Before ever getting onto the island, we saw boats, trash and debris piled all along the side of the highway leading onto Galveston. It was amazing to see, especially since its been a month tomorrow since the storm hit. All of the car lots on the west Broadway look as if they are closed, with no inventory. We don't know if it was all lost in the storm, or if they removed the cars before it hit.

We started on the beachfront at 61st St. The fishing pier is completely gone now, which I guess should be expected. There is still lots of debris along the seawall and most of the businesses are still closed. It is my understanding that utilities have been restored but the stores remain closed. Of course, this is mostly small locally owned stores abnd restaurants. The large chain stores, Kroger, Academy etc. are open for business but the Randalls store on 61st St. was closed. Hmmmm.

For those familiar with Galveston, Gaido's restaurant had a sign out front that they will be open soon and are hiring. Fish Tales, another landmark on the seawall is closed. Everything on the beachfront was severely damaged and I was surprised to see as many restaurants as we did that were open. There are still huge piles of sand and debris all along Seawall Blvd. and it will likely stay there for some time.

The next landmark that we saw was the Flagship hotel. It seems to me that there was so much damage done to the pier that it may not reopen. There is a huge hold in the front of the building and there is no way to drive onto the pier. The main entrance driveway is gone and there is a large hole in the side entrance driveway. There was a large sheet of metal that may have been used to cover the hole. We saw a couple of cars parked on the pier, but they may belong to someone that stayed there for the storm.

The large Murdock's pier and the old bathhouse are completely gone! There is only a frame of one of the stores, and the entire framework is racked and leans to the left. Of course, the old Balinese Room is completely gone. There is nothing left but the concrete bases for the pilings that are down in the water. It's a shame that so much history has been destroyed and cannot be replaced. I'm sure that the State of Texas would not allow anything to be rebuilt over the water. It brought back many memories for me to see the old places on the beach that are now destroyed.

The Galvez Hotel only seemeed to have suffered damage to the roof, although they probably got a lot of water in the first floor and possibly the second floor as well. We didn't go into the driveway to check.

One odd thing that I noticed was how high the sand was now on the beach between 17th St. and Stewart Beach. The sand is almost up to the seawall in places and I guess the water pushed the sand onto the beach and then a lot of it blew over the seawall onto the blvd.

The old Bamboo Hut and the other houses and businesses on the sane are destroyed. The ramp down onto the sand at the end of Broadway was blocked off, so we couldn't go down onto the beach. The old Putt-Putt golf course is covered in sand and everything was destroyed. I told Stella about my friend Steve Norton's father being the manager of the course and how much miniature golf we played in high school. We were co-holders of the course record for a long time.

We then went to check on the houses where my family lived in Galveston. All of them came thought with little visible damage. I know the house on Ave. O 1/2 is almost 100 years old and it didn't seem to have any damage at all. Even the old garage apartment where I moved to was not damaged, but they've added onto it and its much larger than it was when I lived there. I checked MeMa and Grandaddy's house on Ave. T and Janie's old house behind our house and no damage was seen on either one.

Another striking thing that we saw was all of the debris that was piled up on Broadway near the new courthouse. The debris pile is probably 30 feet high and covers at least three city blocks. Down in several of the neighborhoods and all along Broadway there are still huge amounts of trash and debris to be removed, so the job will last several months longer, possibly years.

It's very sad for me as a born on the islander. There is no telling how long it will take Galveston to recover, if it ever does.

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