Coastal cities eye possibility of tropical weather

September 2, 2011 3:03:49 AM PDT
After enduring the hottest summer on record, folks in Galveston were hoping for a strong showing of visitors for Labor Day weekend. But now there is concern this new storm could put a damper on the fun.

As the waves slowly roll to shore, beachgoers enjoy what is considered a peaceful day at the beach. However, since Hurricane Ike, there is a heightened sense of caution for some about Tropical Depression #13 -- likely to become Tropical Storm Lee -- in the Gulf of Mexico.

"After Ike, we're pretty sensitive and we know what real storms are, so you know, I think everybody watches and keeps an eye out," said tourist Mark Woodward.

Lee's possible development comes at a crucial time for Galveston. This holiday weekend is considered the last hurrah for summertime tourists. Although the city's infrastructure has been repaired since Ike there are at least two areas that remain not fully repaired and vulnerable.

Eric Wilson with Galveston Municipal Infrastructure explained, "The main waste water treatment plant and the sanitary sewer systems still have significant issues. We are up and meeting EPA discharge permits, but we still need to get those projects completed."

Equally important are the historic properties in the city. Their preservation is considered essential a drawing card for tourists. The repair and renovation post-Ike has come with unique changes to withstand future hurricane damage.

"We built a lot smarter," said Christine Hopkins with Mitchell Historic Properties. "We raised the electrical and put in moisture-resistant wall board, but every year we've learned to tweak our plan."

So far, the city remains quiet, with the majority of tourists expected to begin arriving on Friday. Neighbors hope any gulf development can have a positive effect on the city

"Hope we get rain, not too much but we need the rain," said resident Toni Garza.

In Seabrook, worries focus more on businesses than tourism. Some businesses say they still haven't fully jumped back from Hurricane Ike, and the threat of another hurricane is on everyone's minds.

Almost three years after Hurricane Ike, like the Little Engine that Could, Tookie's of Seabrook made it back.

"There are a lot of areas around here that popped back after the hurricane and Seabrook just didn't," said Amanda Rutledge with Tookie's Hamburgers.

But the hamburgers and giant onion rings are being served up once again.

"It's really cool, you feel like you're doing something good for the city, you're kind of bringing back something that everybody's missed, bringing a little bit of life back since the hurricane," she said.

Across the street at Miller's Machine and Welding, step by step, the business has finally picked back up again for Dodie Miller.

"Tropical storms everybody wants because we know it's quite a lot of rain, not too much high winds," he said.

Miller says his shop still has some damage from Ike and he's still working to rebuild.

And while they're always keeping an eye on what could be hundreds of miles out in the Gulf, business owners are staying focused on what they can control, whether it's burgers or their love of molding metal.


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