Sunday, September 14, 2008

Hurricane Ike: The Untold Story

by Barbara Sowell

Thousands of Texans watched TV all day Saturday in quiet desperation hoping for just one word about their loved ones and their homes on Bolivar Peninsula, Texas.

Although Fox News and MSNBC provided constant aftermath coverage until dark, nothing was known about the fate of Bolivar.

Bolivar Peninsula, Texas is a 45 square mile flat, thin strip of eroding land or "barrier island" surrounded by water. It has no protective seawall. Bolivar is a laid-back resort community with 27 miles of sandy beaches and ocean front homes of all shapes and price ranges. According to the 2000 census the population was almost 4,000, but it has since experienced quite a building boom recent years.

According to today’s Houston Chronicle:

Ike's landfall put its powerful northeast quadrant — and thus the largest surge — over Bolivar Peninsula and a bit farther up the Texas coast. . .


. . .search-and-rescue crews immediately began to comb through inundated areas along the coast to find out what happened to the estimated 140,000 people who had defied mandatory evacuation orders and stayed home. . .


Gov. Rick Perry said the search-and-rescue operation was the largest ever undertaken in the state, involving 57 helicopters and more than 1,500 people on the ground. . .


His spokeswoman, Alison Castle, said there had been 940 rescues of people stranded in homes, vehicles or other places. Most of those took place in Galveston and Orange counties, she said. How many people might still be isolated or missing is not known.

It was mid afternoon before the networks started broadcasting videos of the Galveston shoreline. Silent helicopter footage of Houston, Galveston and surrounding areas looped over and over but the airspace over Bolivar had been closed by the Coast Guard. No one knew what was happening on Bolivar.

A U.S. Coast Guard spokesman said 15 Coast Guard helicopters and 15 Army National Guard choppers were flying missions to Bolivar Peninsula, Crystal Beach, San Leon, Galveston's West End, Surfside and High Island. There were more helicopter assets being dispatched to the region Saturday afternoon.

 
By late afternoon word began to leak out. “Even before Ike made landfall, Coast Guard helicopters had rescued 103 people in the Bolivar Peninsula.”

KHOU Houston first broke the news about Bolivar and it wasn’t good.

By early Sunday morning stories and photos were trickling out over the internet through message boards and blogs.

Here are three unconfirmed stories about the fate of Bolivar:

This afternoon, my mother called with a report. I could tell she had been crying, or at least very depressed. She called to tell me that her neighbor had called, and their friend had flown his plane over the peninsula. He said it was so flooded he couldn’t find anything. He finally found the school, a two-story building on very high stilts, which helped him get his bearings. He used the school to find his way to my mother’s street, and all he saw was one of the two palm trees that used to stand next to the neighbor’s house. The house was higher than the palm tree, yet all that remained was the tree. All of the houses on the street were gone, including my parents’ dream house.
. . .a friend who waited it out on West Galveston Island reports a policeman told him it was bad out there. Other sources on the net say aside from High Island, it's gone. . .

Connie Travis, 53, of Dallas, was also plucked from rising waters of Crystal Beach by a Coast Guard helicopter, along with her husband, Doug, and son, Mattew Nez. They were taken to emergency shelter in Texas City.


"The whole island is under water," Travis said of Bolivar peninsula where Crystal Beach is located. "It's total destruction. Everything that was on the ground is washed away."

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Thousands of Texans watched TV all day Saturday in quiet desperation hoping for just one word about their loved ones and their homes on Bolivar Peninsula, Texas.

Although Fox News and MSNBC provided constant aftermath coverage until dark, nothing was known about the fate of Bolivar.
Bolivar Peninsula, Texas is a 45 square mile flat, thin strip of eroding land or "barrier island" surrounded by water. It has no protective seawall. Bolivar is a laid-back resort community with 27 miles of sandy beaches and ocean front homes of all shapes and price ranges. According to the 2000 census the population was almost 4,000, but it has since experienced quite a building boom recent years.
According to today’s Houston Chronicle:

Ike's landfall put its powerful northeast quadrant — and thus the largest surge — over Bolivar Peninsula and a bit farther up the Texas coast. . .
. . .search-and-rescue crews immediately began to comb through inundated areas along the coast to find out what happened to the estimated 140,000 people who had defied mandatory evacuation orders and stayed home. . .
Gov. Rick Perry said the search-and-rescue operation was the largest ever undertaken in the state, involving 57 helicopters and more than 1,500 people on the ground. . .
His spokeswoman, Alison Castle, said there had been 940 rescues of people stranded in homes, vehicles or other places. Most of those took place in Galveston and Orange counties, she said. How many people might still be isolated or missing is not known.

It was mid afternoon before the networks started broadcasting videos of the Galveston shoreline. Silent helicopter footage of Houston, Galveston and surrounding areas looped over and over but the airspace over Bolivar had been closed by the Coast Guard. No one knew what was happening on Bolivar.
A U.S. Coast Guard spokesman said 15 Coast Guard helicopters and 15 Army National Guard choppers were flying missions to Bolivar Peninsula, Crystal Beach, San Leon, Galveston's West End, Surfside and High Island. There were more helicopter assets being dispatched to the region Saturday afternoon.
By late afternoon word began to leak out. “Even before Ike made landfall, Coast Guard helicopters had rescued 103 people in the Bolivar Peninsula.”
KHOU Houston first broke the news about Bolivar and it wasn’t good.
By early Sunday morning stories and photos were trickling out over the internet through message boards and blogs.
Here are three unconfirmed stories about the fate of Bolivar:
This afternoon, my mother called with a report. I could tell she had been crying, or at least very depressed. She called to tell me that her neighbor had called, and their friend had flown his plane over the peninsula. He said it was so flooded he couldn’t find anything. He finally found the school, a two-story building on very high stilts, which helped him get his bearings. He used the school to find his way to my mother’s street, and all he saw was one of the two palm trees that used to stand next to the neighbor’s house. The house was higher than the palm tree, yet all that remained was the tree. All of the houses on the street were gone, including my parents’ dream house.
. . .a friend who waited it out on West Galveston Island reports a policeman told him it was bad out there. Other sources on the net say aside from High Island, it's gone. . .
Connie Travis, 53, of Dallas, was also plucked from rising waters of Crystal Beach by a Coast Guard helicopter, along with her husband, Doug, and son, Mattew Nez. They were taken to emergency shelter in Texas City.
"The whole island is under water," Travis said of Bolivar peninsula where Crystal Beach is located. "It's total destruction. Everything that was on the ground is washed away."

If coast guard rescue and recovery operations continue through Sunday, it might be Monday before much more is known about those who chose to stay on Bolivar Peninsula, Texas.

Cross-posted from Digital Journal.

End of article

Note: There are several comments posted on Digital Journal from residents and family members concerned over the lack of media attention to Bolivar. If you have comments or additional information, please leave your comments and links at Digital Journal.

4 comments:

  1. I can't explain why this was, but I have to think that if the media thought this area would be hit hard, they would surely have been covering it from the beginning. I'm not making excuses, but it would be hard to cover every area I would think.

    Our prayers go out to all these people. The damage was terrible, widespread, but the preparations, evacuations, etc. were handled in excellent manner over all.

    Debbie Hamilton
    Right Truth

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sad as this is, this is my take. The press didn't cover this because it wasn't New Orleans and the Katrina thing backfired on them.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Valuable resource of bolivar peninsula news summaries: http://www.ng2000.com/fw.php?tp=bolivar-peninsula

    ReplyDelete
  4. I have my niece and her bf here with me. They live in Houston and evacuated since the house is flooded, no electricity and no running water for a week.

    ReplyDelete