I had a real hard time getting through this piece, readers.... brace yourselves:
The grandmother, Jennifer McLemore, 58, who worked at a local hospital, had holed up with her dog in a newly built beach house on stilts. She giggled with nervous fear, as she described to her grandson how three neighboring houses were being carried away in a flood, along with a trailer home she owned.
Then her cellphone went dead. The next day Jerrith, 17, kayaked from High Island, where he lives, over to the town of Gilchrist, then waded through debris to where Ms. McLemore’s house had been. Nothing was left but a couple of pilings sticking up from a concrete slab. Her car was half underwater in the bay. No one has heard from her since.
“To me,” Jerrith said, “the worst part was thinking what may have went through her mind.”
Three weeks after Hurricane Ike hit Texas, at least 34 people from the Bolivar Peninsula, where the storm did the worst damage, are missing and some are presumed dead, said Galveston County officials and the Laura Recovery Center, a nonprofit organization that has tracked missing people for the county.
I think it is WAY MORE (see final comments below).
All last week, volunteers and state rescue workers combed miles of debris on the peninsula and in the marshes on the east side of Galveston Bay, using dogs trained to find human cadavers. The volunteers say it is slow going, wading through salt grass and brackish gullies, full of the detritus of ruined lives — broken houses, boats, cars, machinery, appliances, toilets, bicycles, toothbrushes, vases, tools.
Two bodies of people from the Bolivar Peninsula have been recovered so far. On Sept. 24, Gail Ettinger, 58, a chemist who worked for oil companies, was found dead, face down in a marsh on the mainland, about 10 miles from where her house in Gilchrist succumbed to the floodwaters. Three days later, Herman Mosely, a carpenter in his 40s who was last seen in a local bar, was found on a small uninhabited island in Galveston Bay.
So complete was the devastation on the peninsula that county officials and local firefighters fear some hurricane victims may be lost at sea or hidden in the vast marshes of Chambers County, just east of Houston.
“Some people will never be found,” said Colin Rizzo, the county official overseeing the search.Scores stayed behind or found themselves trapped in their houses, either because they believed they could weather the storm or because they were too old and infirm to escape, residents and family members of the missing said.
Survivors told terrifying stories. A local welder spent the night in a lifejacket with his hand clamped on a flashlight, watching the floodwaters flow just beneath his deck while the winds ripped away at his house. Another man ended up naked in a tree a hundred yards from his demolished home. Two others floated across the bay, clinging to floating debris, and washed up the next day in Chambers County.
Michael Clow, a 53-year-old handyman, said he swam to a neighbor’s house after his cinder-block home broke to pieces around him. Struggling in water far above his head, Mr. Clow floated on a cooler in which he had stuffed two kittens, some cigarettes and a stash of beer.
“I said you are either going to die or you are going to get to that house,” he recalled, sitting like a shipwrecked sailor in the wreckage of his home.
Residents here fear that most of the people who are still missing were not as fortunate. Sandy Walton, a 54-year-old employee at the Rancho Carribe golf course, was caught in the storm surge with her boyfriend, Bob Anderson, as they left her office the afternoon of Sept. 12. She was swept out to sea as he watched helplessly, the authorities said.
The storm also caught several elderly and disabled people off guard. Dolores Brookshire, a 72-year-old part-time cashier, called her niece, Joann Mier, at 5 a.m. on the day the outer bands of the storm arrived. She had no car and lived in a house in Port Bolivar with her son, Charles Allen Garrett, 42, who used a wheelchair.
Ms. Brookshire told her niece that the street was already filling with water and that a neighbor who had promised them a ride to Dallas had never shown up. “She says, ‘I’m calling you to tell you that I love you and to tell you bye,’ ” Ms. Mier recalled, “and I said, ‘Why? Where are you going?’ and she says ‘Nowhere. Me and Allen are going to drown.’ ”
Then Ms. Brookshire told her niece she was going to try to push her son through the rising water to a brick grocery store where she worked. They have not been seen since. “Her house is just completely gone,” Ms. Mier said. “They are going to have to search through the debris and all of those little gullies along there.”
Oh, man, I can't take to many more stories like this!! First the Afghanis, and now our own citizens!! But there is MORE!!!!!
Angie Moore of Dallas also received word the morning of Sept. 12 that her relatives in Port Bolivar — a cousin, an aunt and her grandmother — were about to leave the peninsula.
Her aunt, Magdalena Strickland, a 49-year-old nurse, called at about 6:15 to say they were setting off in a car and a truck, but they never arrived, Ms. Moore said. The two vehicles were later found in Gilchrist, pushed off the road by floodwaters, she said. One was nearly submerged in sand; the other was thrust into brush on the roadside.
Since then, Ms. Moore has frantically called shelters run by the Red Cross and state agencies, trying to find her relatives. But Ms. Strickland remains missing, along with her mother, Marion Arrambide, 79, a retired nurse, and her son, Shane Williams, 33, a college student.
With each passing day it becomes more difficult to believe they are alive, Ms. Moore said. “It’s not easy,” Ms. Moore said. “We are going on three weeks and — all three of them — we have heard nothing from any of them.”
(Blog author can not describe the sadness he is feeling at this moment, and it is hard to type through tears)
Oh, readers, is the MSM EVER COVERING UP the DEATH TOLL and of IKE!!!