Returning home to heartbreak

September 24, 2008 4:54:43 PM PDT
Interstate 45 South was literally a road to recovery this morning. Thousands of Galveston residents are making their way back to the island, and some are returning home for good. ROAD TO RECOVERY: Breaking news on Ike | School closings | Person locator | Important phone numbers | Assistance from FEMA | Filing a claim | Latest power numbers

It will be quite some time before Galveston is itself again, but the homecoming for residents who live behind the Seawall is a major step towards that goal.

Some residents who returned found nothing left of their homes. Many others found their homes still standing, but what they found inside was devastating.

[IMAGES: See images from what residents returned to today]

"I was in shock," said Galveston Resident Lorie Knotts. "Things were moved around."

It's the kind of reaction we're hearing over and over as people get a close look at their homes on Galveston Island for the first time since Hurricane Ike.

"I thought I was going to come back to something, but I've got nothing," said Galveston resident Darrel Warner.

Warner took us into what was once his bedroom. Now, its' a scrambled, mold-ridden mess with a visible water line on the wall of four to five feet.

"When I came back home, it really hit because everything was out of order," he said. "My TV was gone. My dresser, everything was completely gone."

Not only is the inside of the house a mess, the outside didn't fare any better. In the front yard, there's a truck that doesn't even belong to the Warner family.

"I'm pretty sure we're not going to stay here because, as you can see, this isn't a nice little home anymore," said Warner.

Like Warner, Knotts is in shock. She thought her family would camp out in the front yard. But now, it's not likely they'll stay.

"I didn't imagine it would be this bad," she said. "I didn't."

And with so much devastation all over the island, it's no wonder some people won't stay.

A 'look and leave' policy is still in effect for Galveston's west end. Residents can go take a look at their property, but must be off the island by 6pm.

A 'look and leave' policy for the Bolivar Peninsula could take effect as early as Friday. Galveston County Judge Jim Yarbrough says it all depends on how quickly road crews make temporary repairs to the heavily damaged bridge at Rollover Pass. Without that bridge, the only way to reach Port Bolivar is by boat or helicopter.

Current Conditions in Galveston

  • No medical facilities are available
  • Limited water, sewer, electricity, or natural gas service
  • A boil water notice remains in effect until further notice
  • Mandated water conservation program in effect island-wide
  • Limited retail services available including fuel, food, water, auto, pharmacies, etc.
  • Curfew strictly enforced: 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. Violators subject to $2,000 fine.
  • Limited cell phone coverage
  • The south side of the Seawall, all beaches, and the water of the Gulf of Mexico remain closed until further notice
  • Supplies You Will Need to Bring

  • Bottled Water
  • Flashlights and Batteries
  • First Aid Kit
  • Hand Tools
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Heavy Duty Garbage Bags
  • Camera
  • Notepad & Pens
  • Bug Repellant
  • Personal Hygiene Items
  • Gloves
  • Face Masks
  • Boots
  • Sunscreen
  • Vehicle Fuel Additives
  • Tire Repair -- Tools, Fix-A-Flat, Spare Tire, Jack
  • Safety Requirements

    Traffic Safety:

  • Watch for Debris
  • Drive Cautiously -- Obey All Speed Limits
  • Be Conscientious of Other Vehicles, Bicyclists, and Pedestrians
  • Treat All Intersections as a Four-Way Stop
  • Street Signs May or May Not Be Present so Remain Alert When Driving
  • Personal Safety:

  • Do Not Put Yourself in a Hazardous Situation
  • Do Not Enter Unsafe Buildings
  • Exercise Common Sense and Caution When Entering Structures
  • Keep your family safe this hurricane season. Check our complete tropical weather preparation guide


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