Thursday, June 11, 2009

This week my spouse and I did something very unusual. We slipped off the porch and took a little trip without even telling friends or family about our plans. There actually was no plan and the trip was purely impulsive. It was the week of our anniversary and we decided to take an overnight trip to Galveston and survey the damage of Hurricane Ike and see the place we lived when we were newly weds and I was a skinny medical student. We just wanted to be by ourselves and reflect on a simpler time that is now Gone With the Wind.

Galveston today, after Hurricane Ike, looks like I feel. It has been greatly scared and will never be the same. They are doing a remarkable job of rebuilding many of the tourist attractions along the seawall and the Strand. They are even rebuilding Murdock’s and there are plans to tear down the Flagship Hotel and put a giant Ferris wheel in the spot. My favorite bookstore near the Strand is gone forever.

Most of the island was under eight feet of water and the damage to homes and buildings was extensive. Many of the homes are being rebuilt but many will remain as decaying shells reminiscent of a city that had been bombed. The house where we lived is being repaired. It obviously suffered water damage but still stands and hopefully will be restored. One of the saddest things to observe throughout the city is the huge number of dead trees. Ancient oaks now stand leafless, never to adorn green again. The large storm surge of salt water covered the roots of the trees for over thirty hours and in effect poisoned them. All the stately oaks along Broadway Street are dead. It’s a heart-breaking sight. It’s like the place is the victim of a Nuclear Winter. Interesting, the streets closest to the seawall look the best. The storm surge came from behind rather than over the seawall and did the damage.

I spoke to several people who are natives and the most interesting conversation was with a fellow in his 80s who was born on the island. He said that Galveston is a great city but will never be the same again. As he spoke, it was almost like he was talking about the death of a family member. He reviewed much of the island’s history with us, especially about the time when it was controlled by the Mafia and some giants of Texas business. Those sounded like glamorous times and I even witnessed a little of it when I was a student. Galveston was indeed like another world.

I must admit. is was fun to get off the porch for a day although it was pretty depressing to see a wounded fairy land that will never be the same. It was a little like visiting my father in his final days in the nursing home.


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