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September 16, 2008

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How did you get a photograph from a future of the beginning of the McCain Administration, publius?

Just want to add that the 1900 Storm Memorial in the photo is now gone. Ike destroyed it.

Unrelated to Ike, it looks like the RSS 2.0 feed is broken again for some reason. Is anyone else having this problem?

This is strang(it's from the Burnt Orange Reprt)


Reports of tragedy filtering out of Galveston and Bolivar

by: Robert Ryland
Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 03:44 PM CDT
( - promoted by Vince Leibowitz)

The following is from an email sent to me by a good friend in Nacogdoches whose buddy has been over Galveston - names have been edited out to protect the folks those who relayed the report. Also relayed from this guy and others: persons going into the restricted area are apparently being patted down and cameras are being confiscated, by Army and Coast Guard personnel.

Okay...I've got some news on this front. Take it for what it's worth, but the guy I got it from is someone I trust to raise my children... He's never once lied to me...ever. And we're close.
He's in a pretty high-up supervisory position for a refinery down on the coast.
His refinery has some equipment and lines in and around Galveston county, and before they were to bring them back on line he and his crew had to inspect the place for damage and potential hazards. So they were given permission....after a background check....to helicopter in and inspect, which meant coming in over Galveston.

I kid you not when I say that he told me they saw AT LEAST 1500 bodies in trees scattered about Galveston. They also saw a lot in various ditches and marshes, esp. on the north side of East Galv. Bay, east side of Trinity Bay, and in the marshes between I-45 and Seabrook/Clear Lake/Deer Park.

It explains why they're not letting the media anywhere close to the Island except in limited sectors nd we're not hearing anything from or about the people who survived and those who stayed behind. It's like 20,000 people never
existed....where are they? Where'd they go? What are their names? Nothing....

Same thing in Orange county.

Take it for what it's worth....I believe him, though his count may be wrong given the shock of the sight. But like I said, I'd trust him to raise my kids.

I'd be more surprised if he were wrong than if he were right.

And from Rhiannon Myers of the Galveston Daily News comes this dispatch:


GALVESTON - Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas on Monday ordered all city employees not to talk to news reporters. She did not say when that order would be lifted.
Thomas and City Manager Steve LeBlanc will be the only officials allowed to talk to reporters. City spokeswoman Mary Jo Naschke vehemently denied the city was trying to clamp down on coverage.
......

Reporters would be allowed on the island only if they had proper identification, Thomas said. She didn't clarify what that meant.

Reporters were also forbidden from visiting areas on the far West End, Thomas said. She did not explain why.


I'm not normally one to be alarmist and I don't want to upset people, but this has me very worried. I know some folks who stayed down there to ride it out, as does the guy who sent me the email above - he has yet to hear from one of his friends and fears the worst. His report of the damage in Nacogdoches was not pretty either, and if this storm tore apart towns that far inland it's certainly not unreasonable to think that Galveston and the Triangle have experienced unprecedented devastation.
There could be arguably sound reasons for media blackouts, and the specter of hundreds of bodies among the wreckage may be one of them. It's not always easy in situations like this to know where to draw the line between respect for the deceased and their families, and the public's right to know about what has happened.


It is certainly strange that we aren't getting the desstruction porn that we got with Katrina. And I remember it being said that 40% of the people in Galveston stayed to ride out the storm. Here's the NYTimes article on it and here's a CSM article wondering about the rebuilding of Galveston. Here is an article that discusses the basics of the situation that Wonkie mentions.

"I kid you not when I say that he told me they saw AT LEAST 1500 bodies in trees scattered about Galveston."

This seems unlikely. Some dead people? Sure. 1500? Pretty doubtful.

You are quoting this, btw.

And as a matter of policy, emails from anonymous people: Are they kidding?

Oh, sure, I always trust anonymous emails from someone's friend's brother's girlfriend's aunt's mailman. That always works out.

This is another news story I've seen which quoted residents of Galveston/survivors of Ike. And it's weirdly reassuring, as far as it goes.

Sigh; stupid Typepad is giving me the length error again.

Pt. 1:

"It is certainly strange that we aren't getting the desstruction porn that we got with Katrina."

What do you mean by that? Here are 2,044 articles.

Stuff like this:

GALVESTON, Texas (AP) — The few hundred holdouts on Texas' ravaged Bolivar Peninsula will be required to leave in the next few days, and officials said Tuesday they are ready to use emergency powers to empty the barrier island scraped clean by Hurricane Ike.

Judge Jim Yarbrough, the top elected official in Galveston County, said the roughly 250 people who defied warnings they would be killed if they rode out the storm in the rural coastal community are a "hardy bunch" and there are some "old timers who aren't going to want to leave."

The Texas attorney general's office is looking into the legal options available to force the remaining residents leave, Yarbrough said. Local authorities are prepared to do whatever it takes to get residents to a safer place.

"I don't want to do it," he said. "I'm doing it because it's in their best interests."

The sliver of land is just too damaged for residents to stay there, and the population must be cleared so that recovery can begin, officials said. With no gas, no power and no running water, there is also concern about spread of disease.

Entire neighborhoods on Bolivar Peninsula — home to about 30,000 people during the peak of the summer vacation season — were simply wiped away by the height of Ike's storm surge. In the town of Gilchrist, there are only few buildings still standing. Ferry service to the island is out, as is the bridge on its eastern end. The road that traverses the island is washed out, too.

Yarbrough said officials may never know if people who tried to weather the storm were washed out to sea. So far, there are no confirmed fatalities, but Yarbrough and other officials said he didn't think that would hold.

"I'm not Pollyana. I think we will find some," he said.

[...]

Thomas also said the estimated 15,000 people still living on Galveston Island are encouraged to leave, since the city has only limited water and sewer service, and no electricity. The main gas and a primary electric transmission line to the island were severely damaged by Ike, which also tore at the wharves in the city's port. Officials were worried about mosquito-borne diseases.

"We have a blossoming health and medical concern," Thomas said. "We are not going to go into somebody's house and drag them out. But they need to consider the risks of staying here."

On Galveston's mostly deserted streets, dogs, cats, and cattle roamed free. Many of the elderly huddled in damaged houses, walking or using bikes when they had to leave because cars were destroyed or damaged. Some pushed salvaged shopping carts down the seawall avenue filled with crates of bottled water and plastic brown pouches holding army MREs obtained from relief centers.

"They're all over the place," said Sheila Savage, a Galveston resident who has been bringing food and water to elderly friends who wouldn't leave because they have no family or other relatives elsewhere. "Their homes were all they have."

There's tons of reporting from Galveston.

Pt. II:
Plenty of video posted today, too.

Here is CNN.

Here's some photos from the Bolivar Peninsula.

Thanks for the links, everyone. Here in Japan, there has been nothing (as well as nothing that I caught on CNN international) but I guess that is largely due to the LB/AIG financial problem. Still, the coverage and the damage don't seem to match up. The video link that Gary provided is entitled "Galveston cleans up after Ike", but other reporting like this NYTimes article entitled "After Surviving Storm, Fleeing a Fetid, Devastated Galveston" and reports that there are 20,000 people still in Galveston. Again, there is other news (we are waiting for a typhoon here) but the contrast between the Katrina coverage and the Ike coverage seems to be more than just the difference between the two situations, though a large part of it is probably that I knew New Orleans and my family was affected, but I don't know Galveston nor do I know anyone living there. However, I've seen no suggestions that Galvestonians were stupid to be living on a barrier island and the whole idea of the city was problematic as I saw after Katrina.

@LJ

I suspect that a big difference in the kind of coverage is that the news media stayed in New Orleans during Katrina, so they were able to report on events as they were happening. As far as I can tell, they largely got out of Galveston before the worst of the storm hit, so there was no on-the-scene reporting. Now that the storm is over, the authorities are using the ongoing cleanup as an excuse for media control.

I too find it hard to believe that the casualties were as low as the figures we're hearing. Galveston appears to have been completely devastated, and we know that many people stayed behind. At least some of those people must be dead, and it's a good bet that many of them are. But I have yet to hear even a guess about casualties. I sincerely hope that we get an honest assessment of the damages sooner rather than later.

I've seen no suggestions that Galvestonians were stupid to be living on a barrier island and the whole idea of the city was problematic

Galveston has been a town for almost 200 years. It's been hit twice, and had maybe three near misses, including Rita 3 years ago. The real culprit here is that changing climate is making it more dangerous to live in place which has a history of being relatively safe. Even so, it's probably not more dangerous than living in, say, Kobe.

AT LEAST 1500 bodies in trees scattered about Galveston.

What would be the motive for this cover-up? And how could they possibly hope to keep something of that magnitude a secret? How many thousands would have to be sworn to secrecy?

Many, many years ago (1975 or 1976), I attended a lecture by Texas State Senator A. R. "Babe" Schwartz (D- Galveston) at the University of Texas Department of Geology. He was talking about coastal environmental legislation. I'll paraphrase him: "In 1900, God said 'Thou shalt not build on barrier islands' to the people of Galveston with the Great Galveston hurricane. and 15 years later, in 1915 God said 'You're not listening' with another major hurricane. We're still not listening.
(Sen. Schartz's wikipedia entry is very interesting. It appears that he was one of the early victims of Karl Rove. )

I apologize, liberal japonicus--I think now that I misunderstood your comment about the wisdom of living on a barrier island. Of course, the criticism of living in New Orleans was silly for much the same reason--people had lived there for a couple of hundred years, without a disaster like this happening.

"But I have yet to hear even a guess about casualties."

Whereas I've read a couple of dozen articles giving specific figures; last I saw was 49 and growing. It'll probably be at least a couple of hundred. I don't know about more than that, as yet, though.

And, as I pointed out, there are thousands of articles.

"Galveston.

What would be the motive for this cover-up? And how could they possibly hope to keep something of that magnitude a secret?"

It's inane; there are, in fact, if anyone bothers to actually look at news coverage for themself, dozens, if not hundreds, of reporters in Galveston now, including tv crews, and news helicopters flying around.

Even before that, the idea that someone would try to hide 1500 dead bodies, and expect to somehow cover up all those people disappearing makes no sense. I don't get how anyone could expect that to work; it's up there with believing that somehow tons of explosive were snuck into the WTC, and people removed from a plane in DC, etc.

People just love conspiracy theories, not matter how impossible.

And, of course, this administration, and some previous Republican ones, have given reason to wonder about conspiracies and lies and not trusting the government.

NY Times today from Galveston. My local tv news just said "47 dead" as the latest figure they had, but that's for all of Ike.

AP:

Authorities vow to force holdouts off Texas coast

By JUAN A. LOZANO – 14 minutes ago

GALVESTON, Texas (AP) — About 250 people who withstood Hurricane Ike on a coastal sliver of land will be forced off it so crews can begin the recovery effort, authorities said Tuesday, vowing to invoke emergency powers to make it happen.

County Judge Jim Yarbrough, the top elected official in Galveston County, said those who defied warnings that they would be killed if they rode out the storm on the Bolivar Peninsula are a "hardy bunch" and there are some "old timers who aren't going to want to leave."

The Texas attorney general's office is trying to figure out how legally to force the holdouts to leave, Yarbrough said. Local authorities are prepared to do whatever it takes to get residents to a safer place.

The peninsula is too damaged for residents to stay, and with no gas, no power and no running water, there is also concern about spread of disease, officials said.

"I don't want to do it," Yarbrough said. "I'm doing it because it's in their best interests."

Authorities may never know if people who tried to weather the storm were washed out to sea. So far, there are no confirmed fatalities, but Yarbrough and other officials said he didn't think that would hold.

"I'm not Pollyana. I think we will find some," he said.

Ike's death toll officially stood at 47 Tuesday, with most of the deaths coming outside of Texas.

Authorities confirmed a total of nine deaths in the Houston metropolitan area, all from post-storm debris-clearing work, house fires or carbon monoxide poisoning by generator use. Dozens of others had been treated for carbon monoxide poisoning, health officials said.

The majority of Houston was still without power late Tuesday, with CenterPoint Energy projecting most would be without electricity for another week. Residents again waited in line for hours on end at the 22 supply distribution centers set up in Houston to hand out food, water and ice.

The mayor of the nation's fourth-largest city complained the Federal Emergency Management Agency wasn't bringing in the supplies fast enough. Mayor Bill White also asked that a federal supervisor at a distribution center be fired for telling the drivers of two trucks — one filled with ice and other with food — to turn around. The supervisor thought the site was stocked, but it wasn't.

"That is not going to happen again," White said, adding that other distribution centers were also not getting supplies quickly enough and most were running out of ice.

FEMA spokesman Marty Bahamonde said he was not aware of the situation White described, but said Judge Ed Emmett — the top elected official in Harris County — was now personally coordinating the efforts to hand out relief supplies.

Etc.

burnt orange report was good on coverage of the texas two step but I think they got too emotionally involved in this. The trees probably have debris in them.

For a little comic relief here's is a story about some folks who spent the night in a church with a lion. The lion was from a private zoo and ended up in the church when his keeper's truck got stuck. Everyone survived although the water got chest deep on a human . They were feeding the lion pot raost--where they got the pot roast from the article didn't say. People really shouldn't risk the lives of animals that way.

Thanks Roger, that is a good point. And rea, my apologies for not being as clear about that comment as I could have been.

Feeding pot roast to a lion in a church? As the water goes to chest level?

That's risking the lives of more than the animal, I'd say.

Though it brings to mind many Bible verses, I guess. O ye of little faith...

Even so, it's probably not more dangerous than living in, say, Kobe.

While you could probably fit inside him, why would you want to?

It's been hit twice

Uh, no. Galveston has been hit a few more times than that, just in the last 110 years:

1900
1915
1932
1983 Hurricane Alicia

and a whole slew of near misses in 1934, 1943, 1947, 1959 and 1989. Plus a few near misses in the late 1800s. Of course, none of them were even a scratch on the 1900 hurricane, as far as loss of life is concerned. All of them together aren't a scratch on that one.

Having experienced Hurricane Alicia as a 9-year old kid and Hurricane Ike as an adult, this one seems worse, despite being only Category 2. Alicia was a Category 3, but it only killed 21 people (according to Wikipedia) and didn't completely wipe out Galveston. The power outages (outside of the shore areas) didn't last this long in 1983, either.

I was actually glad to finally come in to work today. Air conditioning and internet, how I've missed you! Anyway, my family and everyone I know are all ok, and I'm glad to see publius made it thru as well. My condolences to those families who have lost someone.

This one WAS worse than Alicia. Usually it's the storm surge that kills a lot of people, in the coastal areas, and Ike was pretty bad. Jeff Masters had a decent conversation about how the size of the hurricane makes the storm surge worse. Shorter me: it's a function of both category and size.

Although, it must be said, not quite as bad as anticipated. Still, the storm surge was extensive, and the piled-up debris from the surge is going to hinder both rescue ops but also getting the power back on. It's the clogged roadways that slows things down; Hurricane Charley was a tiny hurricane, comparatively, but it took down so many trees and power lines down that it took weeks to clean up. I knew people whose power was out for at least two weeks. I was lucky, and had power the next day, but I think I was on a grid that had really high priority; it supported two local groceries and a couple of gas stations, all of which were being used as bases of operation by the power company fleet. The guy who was out of power for over two weeks lived only about six blocks away.

Glad you and your are well, 3rdGB.

Gary:

Yes, there are thousands of articles, but if you go to the front pages of the NY Times, WaPo, LA Times, Wall St. Journal -- any major US paper *besides* the Houston Chronicle -- you have to read carefully to spot the one link to an article about Ike. Same thing for the TV news sites.

It may not, technically, be a media blackout, but it's peculiar that an ongoing disaster in our 4th-largest city could drop so far down on the news radar.

Lion on the run hampers Hurricane Ike rescue efforts
An 11-year-old lioness presented survivors of Hurricane Ike with an unforseen hazard when she appeared at a church where they were sheltering.

By Tom Leonard in New York
Last Updated: 1:13AM BST 18 Sep 2008

Previous1 of 2 ImagesNext Shackle makes herself at home in a church after Hurricane Ike Photo: AP
Mike Wolford and his son Mike lost their home in the storm at Crystal Beach Photo: EPA
Shackle, who was saved from a local zoo as the storm struck, is holed up in the sanctuary of the First Baptist Church in Crystal Beach, lounging across the altar and being fed roast pork by local residents.

The lion and her owner, Michael Ray Kujawa, waded into the church after roads out of the area were blocked by flooding. People who were sheltering inside the building helped lock the lion in the sanctuary - and then stayed well away.

"They worked pretty well together, actually. When you have to swim, the lion doesn't care about eating nobody," said Mr Kujawa.

Jim Yarbrough, a Galveston County judge, said the authorities were working out a way of evacuating the big cat. "When you think you've seen everything, you find something else," he said.

Locals did - when they discovered that a tiger is also on the loose.

Officials in Galveston County, the coastal area worst hit by the storm at the weekend, have called in animal experts to find and catch the freed tiger, which is thought to have escaped from an exotic pets centre.

"The tiger was understood to be hungry so we're staying away from him", Mr Yarbrough added.

Residents of the coastal towns shattered by the hurricane, which has killed 50 people, have almost no services and have been given little idea of when they may return.

Despite the US government's apparent determination not to repeat the debacle of Hurricane Katrina, it faces growing complaints that the official response to Ike has been slow and ineffective.

In Houston, residents have been spending hours on end queuing for food, water and ice at the 22 supply distribution centres.

Bill White, the city's mayor, said the Federal Emergency Management Agency was not bringing in supplies sufficiently quickly.

More than 30,000 people have been stranded in shelters and around two million Texans remain without power.

Despite the primitive conditions, thousands of people tried to get back on to Galveston Island - the worst hit area - after officials opened a temporary "look and leave" facility so residents could check on the state of their homes and businesses.

The authorities want to evacuate the nearby Bolivar peninsula so rescue crews can begin the recovery effort.

However, around 250 hard-core holdouts - including the lion and tiger - weathered the storm and have so far ignored evacuation orders despite a lack of power, gas or running water.

Officials are now considering legal action to force them out.

The remnants of Ike are continuing to bring flooding and high winds to the Midwest, affecting states including Ohio, a thousand miles from the Texas coast where the hurricane made landfall.

It still amazes me that someone took a pot raost along with them when they fled their house. maybe this is one of those things that distinguishes us elitists fomr those "real people"--I would have taken a backpack full of granola bars with me but no red meat.

An e-friend in Houston who just got power back reports:

We all know what happened to the west end of Galveston, but we don't know anything about the more populous area - the city. The seawall protects the city. I don't understand. It's like journalism from Iraq - restricted.

Gack. The article quoted clearly specifies that they fed the lion "roast pork" (which, we will recall, is "the other white meat") not "pot roast" (or "red meat")!!

If we can't get The Facts Of The Case [tm] straight, how can we expect to perform the serious political analysis for which this blog is justly famed?

Oops. I gues that really labels me as an elitist! But how am I, a vegetarian for the lst thirty years, supposed to make these disticntions?

"But how am I, a vegetarian for the lst thirty years, supposed to make these disticntions?"

Don't have a cow. I'm sure no one will be a pig about explaining it.

Just remember that no one talks aobut "cow-barrel politics."

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