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Skyline - Houston, Texas

Saturday, October 04, 2008

They Should Not Have Died

To the news media and to most of the nation, Ike is history, old news, already forgotten. It is still fresh to Texas Gulf Coasters and other victims who were in Ike's destructive path. Those of us who were further inland primarily suffered property damage but we grieve for our coastal neighbors - the loss of life that may measure in the hundreds, utterly destroyed homes and possessions, and even small towns obliterated. It is a hard thing to endure. These are our people.

Ike was rated a Category 3 (updates), a huge storm. Some of us have weathered Cat 2s and survived just fine. Somehow, Ike was different, more ferocious and destructive to the immediate coast. Perhaps the weather people can explain it but us old timers cannot. Nevertheless, even us old timers won't remain directly on the coast in a Cat 2, especially not a Cat 3. Even though we weren't even born when the hurricane of 1900 destroyed Galveston, we grew up with tales told of it by our elders. Experience over the years taught us that tragic lesson - on the immediate coast, RUN!!

Galvestonians were warned, "To stay is death. Evacuate!" They were also told that after 9:00 P.M. no rescue operations would be launched. Conditions would mean virtually certain death for First Response teams and they would not be risked. People made foolish decisions and died, but their deaths are no less grievous and painful. We sorrow for them.

Islanders who insisted on staying died in Ike

By MONICA RHOR, Associated Press Writer Sat Oct 4, 1:58 PM ET

GALVESTON, Texas - The final hours brought the awful realization to victims of Hurricane Ike that they had waited too long. This storm wasn't like the others, the ones that left nothing worse than a harrowing tale to tell.

George Helmond, a hardy Galveston salt, watched the water rise and told a buddy: I was born on this island and I'll die on this island.

Gail Ettenger, a free spirit who adopted the Bolivar Peninsula as her home 15 years ago, told a friend in a last phone call: I really messed up this time.

Within hours, the old salt and the free spirit were gone as the powerful Category 2 hurricane wracked the Texas Gulf Coast on Sept. 13, flattening houses, obliterating entire towns and claiming at least 33 lives.

The dead — as young as 4, as old as 79 — included lifelong Galvestonians firmly rooted on the island and transplants drawn by the quiet of coastal living.

Seven people drowned in a storm surge that moved in earlier and with more ferocity than expected. Nine others died in the grimy, sweaty aftermath, when lack of power and medicine exacted its toll. Eleven people were poisoned by carbon monoxide or killed in fires from the generators they used in their own attempts to survive.

Hundreds of people remain missing three weeks after Ike's assault on Texas. Local and city officials are no longer keeping their own count of missing residents, and the estimate varies wildly from one agency to another.


For the rest of the article and the stories of some who died, click on Needless Deaths


Play Slideshow Photo Gallery

She ran - she lost all she owned - but she lives!
Donna Hanson pauses to look at an item recovered among the debris ...

Donna Hanson pauses to look at an item recovered among the debris left where her home once stood in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2008 in Galveston, Texas. Hanson's home was completely destroyed by the hurricane. Residents were allowed to return to the island Wednesday.

(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)



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