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Friday, 08 August 2014 14:25

Texas' Gulf Coast, Still Battered From Ike, Not Ready for Next Storm

GALVESTON — Nearly six years after Hurricane Ike, one of the nation’s deadliest hurricanes, struck this city, boarded-up and dilapidated houses and empty lots still punctuate the streets. Many houses that remain are decorated with “for sale” signs.

“This was a thriving neighborhood,” Tina Kolunga said as she drove down a street lined with abandoned houses. On another street, she pointed out large patches of grass where homes and public housing used to sit. Kolunga still lives in Galveston, though she struggled for years after Ike to rebuild her home.  

“This used to be one of the busiest restaurants in town,” Kolunga said, pointing out a rundown white building still worn from water damage. 

As Kolunga toured the damage that remains years after Ike, recounting the ongoing recovery struggles of her neighbors, state lawmakers across town worried about the future of this coastal town and the surrounding region. At a hearing of the Joint Interim Committee to Study a Coastal Barrier System, held just a few miles from Kolunga's neighborhood, on Texas A&M University's Galveston campus Monday, experts told legislators that the coast is still not adequately prepared for a hurricane like Ike, which in September 2008 left billions of dollars of damage and at least 100 people dead in its wake.