We hope our loved ones were spared much damage to their homes, but there is extensive damage on the coast and islands. The death toll was not as high as they thought it might be among those who chose to ride it out and that is a good thing to hear.
By CHRISTOPHER SHERMAN AND PAULINE ARRILLAGA
ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITERS
Because Ike was so huge - some 500 miles across, making it nearly as big as Texas itself - hurricane winds pounded the coast for hours before and after the storm waded ashore. Ike soon weakened to a tropical storm en route inland, but continued to pound the state with 60 mph winds and rain.
A convoy of search-and-rescue teams from Texas and California drove into Galveston - where the storm came ashore at 3:10 a.m. EDT - after bulldozers cleared away mountains of debris. Interstate 45, the only road onto the island, was littered with overturned yachts, dead pelicans and debris from homes and docks.
Homes and other buildings in Galveston and homes burned unattended during the height of Ike's fury; 17 collapsed because crews couldn't get to them to douse the flames. There was no water or electricity on the island, and the main hospital, the University of Texas Medical Branch, flew critically ill patients to other medical center.
Among deaths in Texas, a woman was killed in her sleep when a tree fell on her home near Pinehurst, and a 19-year-old man slipped off a jetty near Corpus Christi and was apparently washed away.
Southwest Louisiana was spared a direct hit, but Ike's surge of water penetrated some 30 miles inland, flooding thousands of homes, breaching levees and soaking areas still recovering from Labor Day's Hurricane Gustav.
Officials said the flooding was worse than it was during 2005's Hurricane Rita, which hit the Louisiana-Texas line.