Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Galveston Stuggles to Recover From Ike's Wrath

Thousands of victims of Hurricane Ike are struggling to get just basic food and water, waiting in lines for up to six hours for the necessities of life. Electricity may not return to homes and businesses for months. The number of distribution centers in southeastern Texas was to be quadrupled to 60.

The Associated Press reports:

"A good bath would be nice: have the fire department swing by and spray us down," said Carlos Silliman, 48, as he sat on a picnic bench in front of his Galveston Island home, where 18 inches of water flooded his garage and ruined a freezer full of venison. "I'm ready to have a cold beer and read the paper."

For most, such luxuries are far beyond the horizon. Many service stations have no gasoline, and some major highways remain under water. More than 30,000 evacuees are still living in nearly 300 public shelters, and roughly 2 million people in Texas alone are without power.

Ike's survivors have already walked for miles and waited for hours at supply distribution centers, gobbling up all that was offered: 1 million bottles of water, 1 million meals and 600,000 pounds of ice in just the first 36 hours after the storm passed.

It's not enough, and those dispatching truck after truck to distribution centers around the city know it. One such center north of Houston drew 10,000 people Monday in search of food and water.

Aerial surveys showed earlier this week most homes on Bolivar Peninsula, where an unknown number of people were trapped during the storm, are destroyed. Galveston County Judge Jim Yarbrough says there are a "hardy bunch" of roughly 250 people still trying to live there, including some "old timers who aren't going to want to leave." Officials there want those residents to leave in order for crews to start cleaning up.

FOX News is reporting this afternoon that people wanting to come back to Galveston are allowed to briefly return to check out their property. Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas on Tuesday announced a "look and leave" re-entry advisory on the island between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Central. Galveston residents and business owners must show show photo identification at highway check points under the policy.

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