Disastrous Ike

Everett Johnson
It is Tuesday September 16 and coastal Texas from Brazoria County to the Louisiana border is reeling from the blow of Hurricane Ike. Residents along the Texas-Louisiana border have taken their fourth beating since the summer of 2005. The IH-45 corridor from Galveston to Conroe and all of the greater Houston metropolitan area has suffered enormously. The magnitude and destruction of Ike will likely be recorded as greater than even the infamous Katrina and Rita storms that wracked Louisiana and Mississippi. If not in loss of life, although much of the affected area is yet to be fully investigated and death tolls may rise, the individual property losses and disruption of business is staggering. One early estimate suggested $20-billion. As reports continue to pour in the estimates are growing.

For the fortunate whose homes are still standing, basic services such as electricity and water may be weeks away. Thousands have lost their jobs. Who could have predicted Ike would be so brutal?

Three days before landfall, Ike seemed to have his crosshairs centered on Corpus Christi. As the storm churned across the Gulf of Mexico gaining strength, it began to bobble and then shifted northward. Here in Seadrift and Port O’Connor we sat on needles and pins. If the storm came ashore at Corpus Christi or Rockport we’d be on the dirty side. If it continued up the coast delivering a direct hit we’d likely be wiped out. Storm surge predictions grew as the storm widened. The historic surge of Hurricane Carla might be exceeded, a record that has stood for 47 years almost to the day. We boarded windows and packed valuables making plans to flee.

Every time a storm is reported to be headed our way we all cringe. Will it be our turn? As storms veer and the cone of predicted landfalls shifts toward other communities a brief sense of relief is natural. Then the reality that our friends and neighbors elsewhere on the coast will bear the brunt of another disaster settles in and we can do nothing but pray and offer help in the aftermath.

Life on the coast is grand, except during hurricane season and we still have at least a month left in this one. Will Mother Nature send us yet another test? Will our society’s infrastructure that has been so severely tested withstand another attack?

Telephone service is patchy right now. We have been able to contact some friends but not all. Many of our loyal advertisers and retailers have nothing but horror, agony and rubble where their life’s work once stood. Many of our readers are homeless and may have lost family and loved ones. You are in our prayers.

The television is playing in the background and I look up occasionally as images just captured by news teams flash upon the screen. The phrase, “What hath God wrought,” keeps running through my mind.

Texans are touted as fiercely independent and self-reliant. We have a history of standing our ground and banding together for common good. Ike will test our character and our resolve. Hope, generosity toward those less fortunate and stubborn allegiance to our communities will be our greatest strengths during recovery. Our coastal communities will rise again, just like they did in the beginning. We will be stronger and smarter. That’s the way God made us.

God Bless Texas!