Trash lining the roads in Galveston

September 29, 2008 4:51:07 AM PDT
Piles of memories are stacking up as trash in Galveston after Hurricane Ike. And city leaders in Galveston say it's going to take a long time to get it all picked up. ROAD TO RECOVERY: How you can help | School closings | Person locator | Important phone numbers | Assistance from FEMA | Filing a claim | Latest power numbers

Storm victims are now sorting through their homes, seeing what they can salvage after the storm. It's leading to big trash buildups, but city leaders have a plan.

It's hard to watch for Keith and Suzette Mahaffey as a crane picks up everything ripped out of their Galveston home.

"It's 37 years of your hard work and your history and it's hard to watch it be torn out and then tossed aside," said Keith.

Across the island, people tossed aside what Hurricane Ike's huge storm search destroyed.

"You don't have wind damage, but flooding will do a lot of damage," said Galveston resident Julio Martinez.

Debris piles line every street, corner, even the Seawall. Two city-hired debris contractors pass through the island neighborhoods daily. They gather hundreds of cubic yards of trash and deposit it at one of two temporary dump sites in Galveston.

"We've just kind of hit the tip of the iceberg on the amount of debris so far," said Galveston Deputy City Manager Brandon Wade.

It will take months possibly a year for before crews can take all of the debris off the island. Getting rid of it all is a slow and sometimes painful task.

"It's not just trash, it's people's lives that's piled up," said Keith Mahaffey.

They're lives like the Mahaffeys, both long time Galveston ISD educators, who vow to rebuild.

"Whereas the country western song says, 'We ain't broken, but we're seriously bent and we're coming back," he said.

The estimated price tag of the debris removal is around $40 million. FEMA will pay for some, the city the rest, a lasting reminder of all of the waste Ike caused.

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