GALVESTON, Texas — A Galveston boat and yacht repair warehouse has been destroyed by flames because the streets were too flooded by Hurricane Ike for fire trucks to reach it.
Galveston Fire Chief Michael Varela said Friday he doesn’t think anyone was inside the warehouse. The area was under a mandatory evacuation order, and the hurricane already was slamming the coast with wind and rain.
Early storm surge flooded the streets with at least 8 feet of water. Varela said firefighters got to within two blocks of the blaze before having to turn around. Source: Click2Houston.com
Update: An Estimated 40% of the Residents Did Not Evacuate
GALVESTON — Despite a mandatory evacuation and ominous forecasts of a killer storm, police, firefighters and the Galveston Beach Patrol rescued dozens of residents Friday from the rising tides brought on by Hurricane Ike as it bears down on Galveston Island.
Many had stayed on the island through numerous other hurricanes and were surprised by the height of the tidal surge. Others were mentally impaired, homeless or decrepit.
Police used a boat to rescue Ken Rygaard, 65, and his wife Jesse, 52, after the tide flooded the second story of the house on 67th Street near Stewart Road.
Rygaard said he has ridden out every storm over the last 43 years. “During (1983 Hurricane) Alicia, we only had a little bit of water,” Rygaard said “but nothing up to the second level.”
The Rygaards and others were taken to Ball High School on 43rd Street, which became a shelter of last resort. The city warned residents that there would be no shelters because all residents were expected to leave the island.
But city officials estimated that as many as 40 percent of the island’s about 60,000 residents remained in their homes. The city was forced to find a place to put those rescued by police and firefighters, so Ball High was opened.
The number of residents taken to the high school was uncertain, as was their safety if Ike brings a predicted storm surge of 20 feet. At that height the surge would top the 17-foot sea wall and flood all of the island except for a high point just behind the sea wall, city officials say.
Many people have apparently decided to stay in Galveston because, as Ike is “only” a category 2 hurricane, they aren’t expecting much wind damage. They have apparently forgotten, if they ever knew, that the big killer in hurricanes isn’t from the wind. The big killer is the storm surge. The storm hasn’t arrived yet.
In this kind of worst case scenario, there are no second chances.
Update: Galveston flooding less than predicted, Houston wind damage worse than predicted.