Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Ike update from My Point of View

Our Galveston weekend was wonderful and we were lucky enough to have some family join us on Sunday. I picked up a cake, a few pizzas, a cooler of drinks and bam! Instaparty!

We stayed at this cute little condo that I picked for the location right on the beach. It turned out nicer than the pictures show, so I was very pleased. The little guy loved sleeping in the top bunk and kept calling the place our condo. I wish!

He was so excited about his birthday that it was at easily midnight before he fell asleep Saturday. Sounds precious now, but I was on the verge of doling out birthday spankings to help him fall asleep. MMA stopped me...he's good like that.

We managed to squeeze in lots of fun Galveston attractions: the beach, the strand, the ferry, dining at Pier 21...we will remember it for a very long time!

Ready for the update? I hesitated to post this part, but I have some things to say and this is my blog. So if you don't want to hear me drone on and on, abort now.

The island of Galveston is looking better than I expected. The sea wall did what it was designed to do. If you didn't know what Galveston looked like before Hurricane Ike, you might not realize they suffered a MAJOR disaster less than a year ago. The beaches along the sea wall (where they've trucked in unfathomable amounts of sand) looked pretty good considering the catastrophic erosion. We didn't venture to the west side of the island but I know that the residential rebuilding is a slower process.

Of course the economy, and so many, are still hurting...right down to the Catholic Diocese and the medical establishment. Thousands of jobs are gone. Sadly, La Kings is no more and all the beautiful old oak trees along Broadway were killed by the storm surge and have to be removed.

But tourism seems to be rebounding. And Galveston's resilience and urgency to rebuild makes me proud to be a Texan. It makes me want to take another trip to the island and spend money to help that effort.

Coastal Texans didn't have the same massive media stage to decry FEMA and the Red Cross and every other agency that did not and could not duplicate the generosity of the Katrina debacle. The celebrities didn't come out in droves to sing concerts or raise money to rebuild after Ike, either. (Or Rita, remember Rita? The easternmost Texas coast got hit twice since Katrina.) Now, less than a year after Ike, I'm afraid Texans have gotten all the help we're going to get and it was a pittance in comparison.

I feel compelled to moan about it here on my own little stage, because my neighbors were abruptly cut off or never given any federal aid for housing or rebuilding when Katrina services were dragged on and on right under our noses in Houston. The system was abused by so many (stuff like this) who milked America's generosity like a cow and it seems the media and the judicial system was in on it.

It was common to hear the term "Katrina housing" in Houston up until Ike hit three years later! Extension after extension was approved in the courts, everyone afraid to say to the leeches "Ok, you lost everything, but now its time to move on and GET A JOB."

Conversely, there was no "Ike housing." Ike hit in September and by November, people who also lost everything were cut off. In any case, FEMA is a joke to those who put in to the system. Like welfare, maybe one dollar out of a thousand ends up in the hands of someone who contributed. And its just a band aid, not a cure. But I digress.

Why am I so bent out of shape when my family has insurance and we didn't miss any meals waiting on Harry Connick Jr to belt one out for us?

Well, if Galveston looks good, Bolivar is another story. Bolivar is to Ike what Bay St. Louis was to Katrina. You know, the place that took the dirty side of the hurricane, yet was all but forgotten by the media.

Bolivar is a low lying peninsula just across the port from Galveston which is mostly rural with no tourism or big industry to speak of. We took the ferry across and were saddened by the conditions just an hour's drive from where we live. From the Galveston/Bolivar ferry you must drive at least ten miles to reach anything that resembles a store or gas station. Bolivar still looks very third world and most neighborhoods are still in shambles. Concrete slabs are the only indication that houses once stood where weeds are taking over. Destroyed buildings have been abandoned all over. If there was anywhere to stop and spend some money, we would have.

Has anyone outside the Houston area ever heard of Bolivar or Crystal Beach?

Houston, (like so much of the country) was exceedingly generous after Katrina. Our mayor stepped up get those poor people the hell out of the Superdome without considering who would reimburse the city. Then they ended up Houston's problem and we ended up eating millions of dollars in that effort, BUT, still, I think we did the right thing in helping our neighbors in their time of need.

But my closer neighbors, were not extended the same generosity. Where were 'ya Dallas? That bothers me.


Tooj said...

It's amazing the hugely diverse reactions that you always get from the SAME people to two different events. I'm sorry that the media picks and chooses who to portray as the ones who need help. Personally, I don't see a single person in any of the three hurricanes that DON'T need something, that didn't need assistance, etc. I hope that wherever any survivor ended up that they're finding their feet. It sucks to learn and read about disaster hitting another person and not having the means to make it better. For SOMEbody.

On a lighter note, I am happy to hear that your birthday celebration went so well. Birthday spankings are sometimes necessary, but it was very nice of MMA (what does that stand for again?) to step in and help you refrain. ;)

Aggie2percenter said...

doncha hate Dallas? (I do)

Girly Stuff said...

It didn't get the same publicity because it was a "been there done that" story to the media. And apparently Dr. Oz. He never even showed up, did he?

But actually, just so it is stated...there was and still is Ike housing. FEMA supplied the funds and enlisted the city of Houston to manage them and they in turn hired a third party to manage the details. My husband was a part of the third party computer situation.

But the media found it all too boring, so nobody knows much about it.

Glad you guys had a good time in Galveston!