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Tuesday, September 16

"The silence was broken only by the rustling of the wind, the cry of gulls and the occasional thump of helicopter rotors"

"Galveston can no longer safely accommodate its population," said city manager Steve LeBlanc, who predicted it would take "days, weeks and months" to get the island cleaned up.

The amazement, the utter confounding amazement, is that Galveston has reported only four dead. Unless the Evacuation Refuseniks were swept away in the waves, that astonishing statistic will stand, it seems, now that rescuers have almost finished combing the island.

So I am thinking the city council might want to rename Galveston "Lucky," Texas. Or maybe "Praise the Lord," Texas.

Yet the devastation is also astounding.

Sept 15 - GALVESTON, Texas (Associated Press - report by JON GAMBRELL; AP Writers Christopher Sherman in Galveston, Michael Kunzelman in Bridge City and Anabelle Garay in Dallas contributed to this report.)
Entire subdivisions obliterated. Oil and chemical slicks in the surf where vacationers once frolicked. Longhorn cattle roaming desolate streets. But, most stunning of all, no more deaths.

Grim scenes greeted rescuers Monday as they penetrated the areas hardest-hit by Hurricane Ike, two days after it thrashed the Texas Gulf Coast and left thousands homeless.

The Bolivar Peninsula and the west end of Galveston Island saw some of the heaviest damage from the storm and took the longest to reach as flooded roads, high winds and washed-out bridges blocked search-and-rescue teams. But when help finally arrived to the last unexplored, Ike-ravaged area, there were few people around; they had either gotten out ahead of the storm or escaped afterward.

What remained of the peninsula, a vibrant beach resort of 30,000 residents during the peak season, was a 27-mile wasteland. Ike's storm surge rolled over the skinny spit of land separating the Gulf of Mexico from Galveston Bay and swept away everything in its path.

The water's retreat Monday revealed an apocalyptic scene.

From the air, all that was left on streets once lined with houses were twisted black stilts reaching up from the sandy soil. In other places, concrete slabs were wiped clean by the surge.

Even the helicopters ferrying out survivors had difficulty finding somewhere to land amid the debris. [...]

Gone were the normal beachtown noises of tourists and traffic. The silence was broken only by the rustling of the wind, the cry of gulls and the occasional thump of helicopter rotors. [...]

Lori Cooper, who rode the storm with her 16- and 8-year-old sons at a relative's house, returned Monday to find that Ike's surge had swept through the house, washing away many of the family's belongings and depositing the pool table in the backyard.

They had no flood insurance because their home on the outskirts of Bridge City supposedly wasn't in a flood zone.

Although the water had receded, the floors, walls and furniture were coated with a foul mixture of mud and refinery oil.

She made the grim return without her sons.

"I didn't want them to see this," said Cooper, 36. "I'm homeless. I have nothing."

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