Life on Bolivar Peninsula improving after Ike

May 19, 2010 4:58:21 PM PDT
We're just days away from the beginning of hurricane season, and a lot has changed since Hurricane Ike disrupted so many lives from Galveston to Bolivar and here in Houston.

On Wednesday, the Galveston Marine Response Group held a training exercise to prepare for the worst Mother Nature can bring. It was recently formed to better respond to aquatic emergencies.

However, people on Bolivar Peninsula don't need a reminder because they're rebuilding from Hurricane Ike. It's a process that's finally picking up speed.

Driving around the Bolivar Peninsula now is a far cry from what it looked less than two years ago when Ike flattened the 40-mile strip.

Residents who are now re-building say they were glad they followed orders to evacuate. But they say getting back to see the damage was a nightmare, and 11 days was, to them, far too long.

The re-entry plan under Galveston Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas is still fresh in their memories and still very unpopular more than a year and a half later.

"I'd like to see it to where you could come in and see what damage people have had," resident Kyle Brennan said.

Newly elected Galveston Mayor Joe Jaworski says his re-entry plan is different. He's aiming to cut the return time down to 72 hours or even less.

"We can maybe do better or take longer, but that's a rule of thumb - 72 hours. Three days," Jaworski said.

During a Wednesday night meeting, Jaworski is expected to field questions from residents and share his plans for what he promises will be a better response to their needs in the wake of the next big storm.

For now, Bolivar Peninsula residents are just focused on picking things back up.

At Swede's Beach Properties, the staff is swamped. It's booking rental homes on the Bolivar Peninsula.

"Everywhere you look, you see new pilings and new homes going up," said Ann Willis who owns the rental business. "I think it's wonderful and it's going to continue."

The Bolivar Blueprint Committee says there are 524 brand new homes here. Keith Hughes' home is one of them.

"It's been trying, but it's gonna be good to be back," said Hughes, who plans to move in June.

This subdivision had only eight homes left standing after Ike. There are now 50, almost all of them brand new. New storm-resistant structures like this donut shop are also popping up. It was wiped out by Ike and rebuilt just a few feet away.

Brennan is in the furniture making business and says he can barely keep up with demand, but the life-long peninsula resident says it is a problem he's grateful to have.


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