Hebrews 12:1-2

"..let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith..." - Hebrews 12:1-2

Friday, September 12, 2008

Hurricane Ike Threatens

At this point, it appears that Hurricane Ike will make landfall this evening or early tomorrow morning. When I heard that it was headed towards the Galveston area I had two thoughts cross my mind. The first was that I have several memories of going there on vacation as a young child. I remember all the crabs along the beach. I also remember my father getting so sunburned that he was violently ill afterwards. My second thought was that I had read a good book in January about the last large hurricane that hit Galveston and those stories chilled me to the core (Isaac’s Storm by Erik Larson).

Knowing that things have really been built up in that area and that there are a lot more people in the vicinity, I am hoping that everyone heeds the warnings and evacuations that have been ordered. Whether or not the storm reaches a category 3 level or not before landfall is basically irrelevant, as there will be huge amounts of devastation based simply on the geography and topography of the region.

The storm warnings issued for Galveston are chilling:

Shoreline of Galveston Bay...15 to 25 feet

Life threatening inundation likely!

All neighborhoods...and possibly entire coastal communities...Will be inundated during the period of peak storm tide. Persons not heeding evacuation orders in single family one or two story homes may face certain death. Many residences of average construction directly on the coast will be destroyed. Widespread and devastating personal property damage is likely elsewhere. Vehicles left behind will likely be swept away. Numerous roads will be swamped...some may be washed away by the water. Entire flood prone coastal communities will be cutoff. Water levels may exceed 9 feet for more than a mile inland. Coastal residents in multi-story facilities risk being cutoff. Conditions will be worsened by battering waves closer to the coast. Such waves will exacerbate property damage...with massive destruction of homes ...including those of block construction. Damage from beach erosion could take years to repair.

Very dangerous winds will produce widespread damage and destruction of mobile homes is likely. Structural damage will include the majority of mobile homes being severely damaged. Those that survive will be uninhabitable until repaired. Houses of poor to average construction will have major damage...including partial wall collapse and roofs being lifted off. Many will be uninhabitable. Well constructed houses will incur minor damage to shingles...siding...gutters...as well as blown out windows. Up to one quarter of gabled roofs will fail.

Partial roof failure is expected at industrial parks...especially to those buildings with light weight steel and aluminum coverings. Older low rising apartment roofs may also be torn off...as well as receiving siding and shingle damage. Up to one quarter of all glass in high rise office buildings will be blown out. Airborne debris will cause damage...injury...and possible fatalities. Natural damage will include all trees with rotting bases becoming uprooted or snapped. Nearly all large branches will snap. Between one quarter and one half of healthy small to medium sized trees will be snapped or uprooted...most common where the ground is saturated. Up to three quarters of newly planted ground crops will be damaged.

Here are some webcams in the Galveston area still broadcasting images: Here is a list (one, two)

Having visited the Mississippi coastline weeks after Hurricane Katrina, I cannot convey how devastating such a storm can be. I saw entire neighborhoods literally erased from the earth without a brick remaining. You could stand 5 blocks in from the oceanfront and have a clear view to the waves because everything was gone. I remember seeing houses that were within ten feet of a major highway and I thought that was strange, until I realized that those houses were initially a block or two away from the road and had been moved in their entirety by the storm surge. Everything within a mile of the ocean was damaged irreparably or utterly destroyed and everything within several miles beyond that had sustained damage to the point of houses being uninhabitable until repair was made.

My thoughts and prayers are with everyone in this region and I pray that people have heeded the warnings and have fled ahead of this storm.

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