Monday, September 15, 2008

The Aftermath of Hurricane Ike

The search and rescue in coastal Texas continues.

SABINE PASS, Texas — As Hurricane Ike’s floodwaters receded, thousands of volunteers went into waist-deep waters along the Texas coast to perform a remarkable feat: Float through every flooded street, knock on every door, find every person who stayed through the storm.

They found a 5-year-old boy who crashed through an attic. They found an elderly woman who stuck out the storm with her soggy dog. But usually, they weren’t finding bodies.

Authorities said Sunday they had rescued nearly 2,000 people in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike’s strike on the Texas and Louisiana coasts. Though crews planned to keep combing flooded streets Sunday night with boats and dump trucks, they were encouraged that time and time again, they knocked on doors and found life.

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The death toll from the storm rose to 17. Three were in the hard-hit barrier island city of Galveston, Texas, including one body found in a vehicle submerged in floodwater at the airport. Many deaths, however, were outside of Texas as the storm slogged north.

Ike’s 110 mph winds and battering waves left Galveston without electricity, gas and basic communications — and officials estimated it may not be restored for a month.

”We want our citizens to stay where they are,” a weary Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas said. ”Do not come back to Galveston. You cannot live here right now.”