GALVESTON, Texas - Hurricane Ike's winds left behind a barrier island city more than three-quarters submerged in water and riddled with house fires that were still spreading in late morning.
A vast western stretch of the island outside of the thick concrete seawall remained completely impassable, and many interior subdivisions experienced flooding. But as winds and surges died down, waters were receding noticeably.
At the height of the storm, residents of the city's downtown and "Strand" district, reported flooding reaching the second floors of some buildings.
Ike's strongest storm surges forced the Rushing family out their first-story window and onto their 17-foot speedboat. The family of six dodged submerged dump trucks on a 20-block odyssey to the San Luis Resort, a safe haven where media and city officials were riding out the storm.Submerged dump trucks, eh? Those things are about 12 feet high. Add 2 or 3 feet for the typical barrier island roadway elevation and you get 14 to 15 feet.
City Manager Steve LeBlanc said helicopter fly-overs by state officials have been the only source of information about the island's west end, home to a slew of raised beach houses and subdivisions that make up 47 percent of the city's tax base.
"We can see there are rooftops," LeBlanc said. "As far as getting there and getting to them, there's just no way to do it."
Debris covers the I-45 Causeway Southbound.
Here's an overview of the damage. The surge still didn't overtop the seawall (except maybe at low spots), which saved all the resort hotels and luxury sea view condminiums that were on land.
But debris did get over the seawall in some places but didn't make it past the sidewalk across the street.