Galveston and Ike Gallery 1
photos by Eddie Harper

photos by Eddie Harper

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The Mite of Ike

Never in my life have I ever seen destruction like this. It was in stark contrast of the beautiful weather in Galveston this day. We all were lucky to have a day like this after what we’ve all been thru. The bright sun and cool air could not be celebrated when the overwhelming stench of gas, diesel, and natural gas filled the air, add the thumps of helicopters flying over head and well it made for a very unusual day in Galveston Texas.

The day started with a 2.5 hour drive to the Island (from League City). I sat in the passenger side and shot the many boats, yachts, sailboats (photo} parked on the Island side of the causeway. Some were nicely parked while others were piled on top of each other. We got off at 71st Street drove along the feeder where Smitty’s bait shop is still standing. I’m not sure how they survived considering there was complete destruction all around. Our first stop was at a friend of mind. His house was located there along Offets Bayou, looking out at Moody Gardens. His beautiful 1 story house was demolished. I say that while 3 exterior walls still stood. The water seemed to hit his house so hard and fast that 2 of his plate glass windows were lying on the living room floor unbroken. All the furniture and sheetrock was shoved into the kitchen and hallway and eventually blasting out the side of his house. Despite all the wreckage, all their top shelf liquor was still left on the top shelf and their guest bedroom is still made up-just soaked. Just next door were their neighbors and friends I met. I found out that they actually rode the storm out right there! Listen in as Sherry Havelka tells Talk of the Bay about her ordeal.

Our next stop was east beach. On the way we passed by the Big Houses, you know, Bishops Palace, Ashton Villa and so on and I did not see major exterior damage there, although there was a boat parked on Broadway. We arrived at the end of the road and where you would normally turn right to head to Apfel Park but the road was washed out-gone. Looking to the right and left the shores were filled with colorful plastic debris. For whatever reason there seemed to be little or no wood debris. We turned around and headed over to the yacht basin. What a mess. Remember it caught fire before Ike even arrived. It didn’t matter what the size of the boat was, they were tossed all over the place. There was even a sailboat still moored to the dock, but the boat and the dock were a good 50 ft from the water. I salute the person who tied that knot. Surprisingly with all the diesel in these crafts, I could only see one area where fuel had accumulated. Have a look at this photo notice how the battleship has moved. I wondered if she ever saw action like Ike while commissioned.

We left the Galveston Yacht Club and headed over to the seawall. Just one of those historic souvenir shops that stood over the water is still there but it’s in really bad shape and destined for the wrecking ball. The Balinese Room, Hooters’, Murdock’s are all gone now. What are left were a few pylons in the water and the rest was lying on Seawall Blvd. The Galvez looked to be in good shape and the Flagship is still standing, but the ramp to get to it was gone.

We headed towards the west end of the island and couldn’t help but notice huge boulders lying on the seawall. There were convoys of ambulances driving up and down the seawall. I knew they were not there to collect casualties. Gaidos and Casey’s were still standing, even the famous shrimp and crab atop the restaurants was still there. The 61st St. pier is now history. The new LaQuinta’s drive and parking lot was washed out. The hotel was substantially damaged. 91st St. Pier is heavily damaged, most of the concrete pylons seem to be there but the building is a goner. There were checkpoints set up along the way to protect what property was left. It was good to see that law enforcement was there checking ID’s. We turned in to Jamaica beach and were warned about water moccasins and we were given only about 20 minutes to get some photos. This is where we saw people’s personal belongings just laying all over the place. It was a little chilling. All this stuff just laying around…man! You have to wonder how much of it will be recoverable. You can look at how high this wall of water was and the force behind it. 8-10ft of water covered all this area. It was a sea of mud, boats, debris, and personal belongings (minus the sea).

After checking out Jamaica Beach we headed east and wanted to see the gulf side. We went over to Pirates Beach and that’s the first time I laid my eyes on a Geo Tube. You can’t miss them they look like beached Orca whales. They are giant canvas tubes filled with I believe to be sand. They are about 8 ft around 50 to 60 ft long. They were installed there several years ago to act as a wave break and to help stop beach erosion. They used to be covered with sand and some were even moved by the storm. I can’t imagine what this place would look like if they were not here. Even with the tubes in place there was serious damage done to the roads. Just down the road is Beach Side Villas and that’s where I saw the worst damage. Complete rows of homes were gone with little sign that homes existed. A few pylons and gas, water, sewage connections were left pointing up out of the ground. Huge chunks of road and foundations were tossed around like a deck of cards.

We left there and headed towards the east end and stopped at the Riviera Condos. The waves from the Gulf are now gently lapping against the building. About half the parking lot is void under the concrete. The pools are completely destroyed and part of the Gulf.

As we headed off the Island several convoys of electric companies, tree removal companies, and earth moving companies from all over the country were moving in. It reminded me of those old movie clips of American soldiers rolling into foreign countries and liberating the people from evil.

I couldn’t help but stop and photograph a couple of sailboats sitting on 61st St. they were perched on the keel with the mast against the power lines. That was a lot of weight the lines were supporting. As I was shooting them I came around the back to see what they were named. They were named “On the Edge”.

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