Standing up to the storm

September 26, 2008 5:39:08 PM PDT
By now you've seen countless images of Hurricane Ike aftermath. But now you're about to read about an entire community on Galveston's east beach that survived with barely a scratch, by design. ROAD TO RECOVERY: How you can help | School closings | Person locator | Important phone numbers | Assistance from FEMA | Filing a claim | Latest power numbers

On the Bolivar Penninsula, the devastation is near complete. Little could withstand the wind and water from two weeks ago, yet across the channel on the farthest eastern point of Galveston is a stunning example of engineering against disaster.

It's said that they don't build them like they used to. At Beachown, they built them better. And two weeks ago, they were put to a big test.

"Basically, we got the eye then Ike turned and went that way," said Tofigh Shirazi, founder of Beachtown.

The surge here was more than 20 feet in some places, which makes this all the more amazing. At the home of Travis and Daryl King, there is no damage to the living space. It looks the same today as when the family left two Fridays ago, except for the lack of city water and the need for a generator.

"I feel very confident in this house, in this home and this whole community." said Daryl. "I know if we had 100 homes along the coast and the area behind us, they'd all still be standing."

The confidence comes from fortified construction that increases resistance to flood and wind damage, all mandated by the founder of Beachtown, who's adding steel beams and concrete floors to new construction. The first floor storage levels have breakout panels to accommodate storm surge, but the raised living spaces remained intact and undamaged. The homes in Beachtown performed as intended. And in this, Shirazi says he sees hope in Galveston's rebuilding and design for the future.

"Any loss in Galveston is our loss and we're all connected together, the economy, the whole thing and I hope this building practice will bring us all back together, create more jobs for the Galvestonians," he told us.

Beachtown sits on 260 acres near Apfel Park on Galveston's east beach in front of the Seawall. Each home is designed to complement the island's architectural heritage. Coastal Living magazine will feature a photo spread on Beachtown in an upcoming issue.

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