Friday, September 26, 2008

Return to Bolivar Peninsula is slow-going for residents after Hurricane Ike

Return to Bolivar Peninsula is slow-going for residents
By JUAN A. LOZANO Associated Press
Sept. 26, 2008, 11:45AM

HIGH ISLAND — Residents of the Bolivar Peninsula crowded onto the only roadway back home today, the first day they were allowed to return and check out the massive wreckage left behind after Hurricane Ike roared through this thin strip of land along the Gulf of Mexico.

The peninsula's 4,000 or so residents are being allowed back on a "look and leave" policy, lining up to return despite warnings they could find snakes and alligators in the debris. The peninsula just northeast of Galveston was among the hardest-hit areas when Ike blasted ashore Sept. 13, with 110 mph winds and a storm surge that swept away homes and businesses.

In the small town of Gilchrist, what was once a field across the street from some vacation beach houses now looked more like a dump where the remains of the homes were scattered. Homeowners slowly wandered through the field, looking through chunks of wood, plates, VCRs, blinds and broken toilets.

Beth Varing, whose vacation home of 20 years was gone except for some wooden pilings, was making a small pile beside the road of items she recovered: a few unbroken dishes, some utensils, a fishing pole and some tile pieces.

"It's unbelievable. All I can do is cry," she said. "These beach houses have been here forever. I can't wrap my thoughts around this. I can't see how it picked up these beach houses and now there is nothing left."
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