Waiting for the Execution
Waiting for a hurricane is like being tied to a stake with a bullet aimed at your head coming at you in slow motion: You have a very long time to contemplate just how you’re going to die.
The people in Haiti and Cuba have already felt the bullet. Now it’s Texas’ turn:
Stranded Galveston residents call in vain for help — Help wasn’t expected until after dangerous storm conditions subsided. Meanwhile, nearly 550,000 customers in the Houston area are without power.
And from Eric Berger of the Houston Chronicle, describing the situation in Galveston:
About 40 percent of the city’s 58,000 residents ignored calls to evacuate. And now they’re phoning for help and getting this response, "We can’t help you." I fear it’s going to get quite grim. City Manager Steve LeBlanc went so far as to ask the media not to photograph "certain things" in the aftermath, referring to the possibility of dead bodies.
Galveston’s founders, including Gail Borden Jr., the inventor of condensed milk, made a poor decision when siting their burg in 1836. The city rests on a barrier island, essentially a glorified sandbar.
Ever-shifting, barrier islands are transient coastal features. They gradually build up from silt and sand deposited on the coast by inland rivers. The state’s barrier islands slowly have died as Texas has dammed up many of its rivers.
Five years ago public officials spent millions of dollars to renourish starving beaches on the western end of Galveston Island, adding acres of shoreline. That summer, a minor hurricane, Claudette, made landfall in Texas near Port O’Connor.
Although the storm only produced about 45 mph winds in Galveston, it stripped away one-third of the new beach. It will all be gone by early tomorrow.
We’ll have more on this developing news as it happens. Berger, the SciGuy for the Chronicle, reports this morning that the surge was less than feared, but that Galveston still took a hard hit — how hard is unknown at this time. Keep your fingers crossed.