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Hurricane Ike

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Hurricane Ike

Hurricane Ike
Category 4 major hurricane (SSHWS/NWS)
Satellite image of a slightly elongated tropical cyclone over blue waters; an eye, visible as a void at the center of the mass of white clouds, is visible. Small green islands dot the lower-left corner of the image.
Hurricane Ike near peak intensity northeast of the Lesser Antilles on September 4
Formed September 1, 2008 (September 1, 2008)
Dissipated September 15, 2008 (September 15, 2008)
(Extratropical after September 14)
Highest winds 1-minute sustained: 145 mph (230 km/h)
Lowest pressure 935 mbar (hPa); 27.61 inHg
Fatalities 103 direct, 92 indirect
Damage $37.5 billion (2008 USD)
(Third costliest hurricane in United States history; costliest in Cuban history)
Areas affected
Part of the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season

Hurricane Ike (pronounced ) was an intense and destructive tropical cyclone that swept through portions of the Greater Antilles and Northern America in September 2008. Owing to its intense nature and at times abnormally large size, Ike wrought havoc to infrastructure and agriculture, particularly in Cuba and Texas, locations where Ike remains the costliest tropical cyclone on record. Other locations also suffered lesser but nonetheless significant effects from Ike. The hurricane's accrued damage toll is the third costliest of any Atlantic hurricane, unadjusted for inflation. Ike developed from a tropical wave west of Cape Verde on September 1,[nb 1] and quickly strengthened to a peak intensity as a Category 4 hurricane over the open waters of the central Atlantic on September 4 as it tracked westward. Several fluctuations in strength occurred before Ike made landfall on eastern Cuba on September 8. The hurricane weakened prior to continuing into the Gulf of Mexico, restrengthening up until a final landfall on Galveston, Texas on September 13. The remnants of Ike continued to track across the United States and into Canada, causing considerable damage inland, before dissipating two days later.

Ike was blamed for at least 195 deaths. Of these, 74 were in Haiti, which was already trying to recover from the impact of three storms earlier that year: Fay, Gustav, and Hanna. In the United States, 112 people were killed and 23 are still missing.[1] Due to its immense size, Ike caused devastation from the Louisiana coastline all the way to the Kenedy County region near Corpus Christi, Texas.[2] In addition, Ike caused flooding and significant damage along the Mississippi coastline and the Florida Panhandle[3] Damages from Ike in U.S. coastal and inland areas are estimated at $29.5 billion (2008 USD),[1] with additional damage of $7.3 billion in Cuba (the costliest storm ever in that country), $200 million in the Bahamas, and $500 million in the Turks and Caicos, amounting to a total of at least $37.5 billion in damage. Ike was (at the time) the second costliest Atlantic hurricane of all time (now the third costliest), only surpassed by Hurricane Katrina of 2005 and later by Hurricane Sandy of 2012.[4] It became the largest search-and-rescue operation in U.S. history.[5] Hurricane Rita still holds the designation as the largest U.S. evacuation in history.[6] At one point, Ike was over 600 miles in diameter.[7]

Prior to Hurricane Irene in 2011 Ike was the last hurricane to make landfall in the United States since 2008. It was the ninth named storm, fifth hurricane, and third major hurricane of the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season.[1]

Meteorological history

Map showing the path of a tropical cyclone, which generally moves from right to left. The track crosses over several landmasses to the left of the image before curving towards the upper half of the map.
Map plotting the track and intensity of the storm according to the Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale

The origins of Hurricane Ike can be traced back to a well-defined tropical depression at 06:00 UTC on September 1. By this time the cyclone had tracked 780 mi (1,250 km) west of Cape Verde. Although post-analysis indicated that the depression reached tropical storm strength at 12:00 UTC that day,[11] operationally the NHC began issuing advisories on Ike three hours later, by which time the system had already gained numerous curved rainbands and well-established outflow.[12] Over the next few hours, Ike developed additional rainbands,[13] but failed to a centralized area of convection due to the presence of dry air to the storm's south and its location in an area with only marginally favorable sea surface temperatures.[14] These factors were also responsible for Ike's slow developmental trend that began after formation.[11]

Ike's gradual strengthening began to quicken early on September 3, with the strengthening of an intense rainband around the center of the storm. At roughly 15:00 UTC that day, microwave imaging indicated that a primordial eye was developing within the intensifying tropical storm.[11] Tracking northwestward, the NHC upgraded Ike to hurricane status at 18:00 UTC based on objective satellite intensity estimates and the appearance of the eye on visible satellite imagery.[11][15] During this time, Ike was centered 690 mi (1,100 km) east-northeast of the Leeward Islands, and was tracking west-northwestward as a result of a weakened subtropical ridge to its northeast.[11] Ike's placement in an area with virtually no wind shear allowed for the hurricane to rapidly intensify despite unfavorable upper-level winds to its north,[15] reaching major hurricane strength six hours after its designation as a hurricane.[16] At 06:00 UTC on September 4, Ike peaked with maximum sustained winds of 145 mph (230 km/h) and a minimum barometric pressure of 935 mbar (hPa; 27.61 inHg), making the storm a Category 4 on the Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale. After peaking in strength, a ridge of high pressure to the storm's west strengthened, causing Ike to track towards the southwest—a path unusual for the time of year. However, this track also brought the storm into an area of strong wind shear,[11] causing the storm to become asymmetric in structure late on September 4 and weaken,[17] briefly dropping below major hurricane status on September 6 while 150 mi (240 km) east of Grand Turk Island.[18] Although wind shear abated and allowed for reintensification, Ike would fluctuate in strength over the next few days. After passing near the Turks and Caicos Islands, Ike made its first landfall on Inagua in the Bahamas at 13:00 UTC on September 7 with winds of 125 mph (205 km/h).[19]

Ike reorganizing over the eastern Gulf of Mexico on September 10

After passing over Inagua,[19] the development of a double eyewall—a feature that usually denotes the beginning of an eyewall replacement cycle—slightly weakened Ike late on September 7.[20] However, the hurricane was able to reintensify and reach Category 4 intensity for a final time before making landfall near Cabo Lucrecia on the coast of Holguín Province in Cuba by 00:00 UTC the next day.[19] Although Ike remained well-defined for most of its crossing of eastern Cuba,[21] the hurricane's core had become disrupted by the time it had reached the Caribbean Sea after spending a few hours over land.[22] Over the next day, Ike tracked westward, paralleling the southern coast of Cuba without much intensification; at times the center of the hurricane was within 12 mi (19 km) of the island. At around 14:00 UTC on September 9, Ike made a second Cuban landfall, this time on Punta La Capitana in Pinar del Rio, with winds of 80 mph (130 km/h). Roughly six hours later, the hurricane emerged into the Gulf of Mexico as a slightly weakened system.[19]

Despite tracking back over water, Ike's prolonged interaction with Cuba had greatly disrupted the system's core, and instead of quickly strengthening and coalescing, the storm's wind field instead grew and only gradual intensification ensued.[19] Due to the storm's comparatively small inner core and intensity of the outer rainbands,[22] an eyewall replacement cycle took place, preventing Ike from rapidly intensifying. At around the same time, an area of high pressure strengthened to the hurricane's north, steering the cyclone further west than initially anticipated. Moving over the warm waters of the Loop Current,[19] Ike reached a secondary minimum in barometric pressure on 00:00 UTC with an estimate of 944 mbar (hPa; 27.88 inHg); though winds would continue to strengthen afterwards, the storm's pressure would rise.[23] By late on September 12, Ike had reached the western edge of the nearby area of high pressure and began to curve northward. The formation of an eye just prior to landfall resulted in a slight increase in winds,[19] and at 0700 UTC on September 13, Ike made landfall on northern end of Galveston Island in Texas with a minimum barometric pressure of 950 mbar (hPa; 28.06 inHg) and sustained winds of 110 mph (175 km/h), making Ike a Category 2 hurricane.[23] After tracking inland, Ike weakened as it sped northward and later northeastward, weakening to tropical storm status east of Palestine, Texas late on September 13 and later becoming a powerful extratropical cyclone on September 14 over the Ozarks.[19] A more steady weakening phase ensued, and after tracking across southern Ontario and Quebec, the remnants of Ike were absorbed by another extratropical low near the St. Lawrence River, on September 15.[24]


Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas

Fearing a repeat of Hurricane Donna in 1960, the overseas branch of the British Red Cross began preparing contingency plans for 2,000 families considered to be at risk from Ike. A group of 260 Chinese construction workers stricken on Middle Caicos after the passage of Hurricane Hanna were evacuated by the agency.[25] Immediately before the storm struck, 348 people on Grand Turk were put into emergency shelters.[26]


A Florida Army National Guardsman uses a Single Mobile User Case Set to send a situation report on ongoing preparations for Hurricane Ike in Key West, Florida.

On September 5, Florida Governor Charlie Crist declared a state of emergency in advance of Ike's arrival, (which was expected to be as early as September 8). Authorities in Key West issued a mandatory evacuation for all visitors for September 6. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) positioned supplies, and emergency response crews in Florida and along the Gulf Coast.[27]

Florida Keys officials began evacuations on the low-lying chain of islands in phases, starting at the end in Key West by 8 am Sunday and continuing throughout the day—at noon for the Middle Keys, and at 4 pm for the Upper Keys, including Key Largo. Visitors were told to leave on Saturday.[28]


A US-Air Force Staff Sergeant receives a hug from a resident after Hurricane Ike, September 13, 2008.

On September 10, U.S. President [29]

On September 7, The Texas Water/Wastewater Agency Response Network (TXWARN)[30] activated its 700 member utility mutual aid network and began coordination with the State Emergency Operations Center and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to begin preparations and notifications to utilities to prepare for Ike.[31]

State rural water associations activated mutual aid networks to prepare for the landfall of Hurricane Hanna and Hurricane Ike while still providing assistance to areas affected by Hurricane Gustav.[32][33] The Texas Rural Water Association held meetings with state agencies on Tuesday, September 9, to plan for landfall along the Texas Gulf Coast.[34][35]

On September 11, forecasting models began to show Ike making landfall just south of Galveston. City Manager Steven LeBlanc late Wednesday issued a mandatory evacuation order for the low lying west end of Galveston Island.[36] Later, the mandatory evacuation order was extended to the entire island of Galveston, as well as low-lying areas around Houston, Texas.[37] Residents evacuating ahead of Ike were received by emergency workers in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. The fleeing residents were provided a place of refuge, medical treatment, and provisions until Ike had passed. After Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast and submerged New Orleans, the DFW area became a place for New Orleans residents to recover from the storm's destructive forces. The DFW area was still providing relief to evacuees from Gustav earlier in the 2008 hurricane season when it began preparations for evacuating residents of coastal Texas prior to Ike's arrival.

Also on September 11, at 8:19 pm (Baffin Bay, Texas, particularly those areas east of Ike's projected eye landfall would experience the greatest damage from storm surges of up to 20 feet (6.1 m). Waves at sea were expected to be higher, up to 70 feet (21 m) according to computer simulations.[43]

The price of gas increased in the expectation of damage to some of the numerous oil refineries along the South Texas coast, or at least delays in production from the oil and gas platforms in the Gulf of Mexico.[44]


The potential danger and possible death warnings were effectively communicated to residents of the Galveston area days before Hurricane Ike landed in Texas. Due to evacuation issues during previous hurricanes authorities were swift in providing residents with information on the deadly potential of Hurricane Ike. "Authorities in Louisiana and Texas ordered major evacuations for Hurricane Gustav and Ike, which made landfall within 12 days of each other; altogether, nearly 3 million people left their homes in advance of the two storms. Nothing speaks more to improvements in evacuation management than repeat experience."[45] In addition to the orders of local and state officials, federal officials were thoroughly involved in evacuation decisions; because of its strength, size and projected path into Galveston, President Bush made an emergency declaration for Texas three days before landfall. More than one million people evacuated in advance of Hurricane Ike, but more than 100,000 people did not."[45]

The special needs population was effectively managed during the evacuation of Hurricane Ike as well. "Special needs populations, especially infirm evacuees, were flown out on military planes as the forward movement of the storm narrowed the evacuation window."[46] One hospital in particular was drastically affected but the employees of the hospital worked fervently to evacuate the patients swiftly and safely. "While Houston did not take the brunt of the storm the way Galveston did, Ike did knock out the city’s water pumping systems, and that was sufficient to threaten the whole health care system. There was no wall of water, no howling winds; just the sound of taps drying up and toilets ceasing to flush."[46] Despite the apparent damages no one at the University of Texas Medical Branch was injured. The "credit for this goes in part to local authorities for issuing a mandatory evacuation order in time for a pre-agreed evacuation plan to be carried out."[46]

"Despite dire warnings of storm surge and certain death from forecasters, an estimated forty percent of Galveston's residents did not evacuate in response to the mandatory order."[45] Unlike victims of prior Hurricanes like Rita and Katrina, the residents of Galveston were informed about the dangers of the storm and they possessed the means to evacuate. Some simply chose not to. "Many residents on the TX coast determined that the risks of a category 2 storm did not give them sufficient motivation to evacuate. It was the local indifference to the storm surge hazard that reduced evacuation compliance and ultimately led to a significant loss of life in the Galveston area, fatalities mostly of white, middle-income residents."[45]

Evacuation management from 2005 until 2008 drastically improved but there is still more to learn. "Increasing evacuation response can be improved through education of local residents and their children."[45] In addition to that residents must first "receive the warning, understand and internalize the information, act on hazard warnings and evacuation orders, overcoming whatever factors impede the decision to do so."[45]


Fatalities by country
Country Deaths Missing
Haiti 74 ???
Dominican Republic 2 ???
Cuba 7 ???
United States 112 34
Total 195 34

Turks and Caicos Islands

Numerous hurricane-damaged houses, buildings, and structures were still to be found in early January 2009 on Grand Turk.[47]
Grand Turk damage

Power was lost throughout Grand Turk Island,[48] 95% of the houses were damaged, one-fifth of which was significant damage. There was also significant structural damage to roofs and buildings containing health services resulting in the disruption of most health services. Pharmacy stores, and supplies facilities received major damage or total destruction. Water and electricity were also disrupted but now has been restored. There was some damage to the clinic on Salt Cay. In North Caicos and Middle Caicos, there was either no damage or minimal damage to the clinic. Meanwhile in South Caicos, 95% of the houses were also damaged, with over one-third significantly damaged or destroyed. Damage also occurred on other islands, pockets of which were significant, but in general, damage was minor.[49] After the eye of the storm passed over, it continued west at 15 mph (24 km/h) headed directly for eastern Cuba.[50][51] Buildings on the islands have been severely weakened and 750 people have lost their homes.[52] Due to the extent and magnitude of damage and affected population, the Government of the Turks and Caicos declared Grand Turk and South Caicos Islands disaster areas.[53] Total damages in the Turks and Caicos Islands were estimated at $500 million.


The remains of a school in Port-au-Prince, Haiti on September 15, 2008

The outer bands of Ike caused additional flooding in Haiti, which was already devastated by Hanna and also hit hard by Fay and Gustav. The last bridge still standing into the city of Gonaïves was washed away, slowing relief in the community considerably and creating a deeper humanitarian and food crisis in the hard-hit region. 74 deaths were reported in Haiti from Ike,[54] of which most were in the coastal community of Cabaret which was swept away by floodwaters and mudslides.[55] Haitian Prime Minister Michèle Pierre-Louis called for help at the end of the week, saying that four storms in three weeks have left over 550 dead and as many as one million homeless.[56] She also said that parts of Gonaïves were so severely damaged that the city may have to be rebuilt elsewhere.[56] No damage figures were available from Haiti or the Dominican Republic.


Costliest Cuban hurricanes
Hurricane Season Damage
Ike 2008 $7.3 billion [57]
Gustav 2008 $2.1 billion [57]
Michelle 2001 $2 billion [58]
Sandy 2012 $2 billion [59]
Dennis 2005 $1.5 billion [60]
Ivan 2004 $1.2 billion [61]
Charley 2004 $923 million [61]

Just over one million Cubans had been evacuated on Sunday, officials said. In Baracoa, 200 homes were reported to be destroyed and waves were running 23 ft (7 m) high and peaked at 40 ft (12 m) in different areas of Cuba. The Category 3 hurricane made landfall on September 8 on the north coast of eastern Cuba in the province of Holguín near Puerto de Sama, with sustained winds of about 120 mph (193 km/h),[62][63] causing widespread flooding and damage to the eastern provinces. It passed across the central provinces of Holguín, Las Tunas, and Camagüey, emerging over the sea to the south of Cuba during September 8. Ike had dropped to a Category One by the time it crossed the island.[64] It then followed the southern coast of Cuba and crossed the western end of the island in Pinar del Río Province, close to the path taken by Hurricane Gustav ten days previously. Another 1.6 million people had evacuated in advance of its second landfall. The western areas of Cuba, already devastated by Hurricane Gustav just 10 days before Ike hit, suffered additional major flooding from the rain and storm surge.[65] The sugar cane crop was devastated, with over 3,400 square kilometres (1,300 sq mi) destroyed. Alongside Gustav, they were described as the "worst ever" storms by Cuban officials.[66]

In total, seven people were killed in Cuba from Ike.[65] The combined damage estimate from Ike and Gustav, and succeeding Paloma is about $9.7 billion (USD), with $7.3 billion of that from Ike, making Ike the most destructive hurricane in Cuban history.[67]

United States

Radar animation of Ike at landfall
Costliest U.S. Atlantic hurricanes
Cost refers to total estimated property damage
Rank Hurricane Season Damage
1 Katrina 2005 $108 billion
2 Sandy 2012 $65 billion
3 Ike 2008 $29.5 billion
4 Andrew 1992 $26.5 billion
5 Wilma 2005 $21 billion
6 Ivan 2004 $18.8 billion
7 Irene 2011 $15.6 billion
8 Charley 2004 $15.1 billion
9 Rita 2005 $12 billion
10 Frances 2004 $9.51 billion
Source: National Hurricane Center[68][59][69][nb 2]

Due to the intensity of the storm, Texas closed many of its chemical plants and oil refineries. Because much of the United States oil refining capacity is located in Texas, the closings caused a temporary increase in the prices of gasoline, home heating oil, and natural gas.[70] Increases were particularly high in North Carolina, especially in the mountains, where average prices were as much as 60 cents higher than the national average.[71] The closing of refineries so soon after Hurricane Gustav, and the time required to restart production, also resulted in shortages of gasoline in such places as the Carolinas and Tennessee, partly as a result of panic buying.[72] Preliminary post-storm damage estimates in the US were placed at 18 billion US dollars (2008) as stated by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.[73] Eighty-two deaths have been reported in the US, including forty-eight in Texas, eight in Louisiana, one in Arkansas, two in Tennessee, one in Kentucky, seven in Indiana, four in Missouri, two in Illinois, two in Michigan, seven in Ohio and one in Pennsylvania,[74] although there are 202 missing.[75][76][77][78][79][80] On September 15, 2008 the United States Congress held a moment of silence for those who died in the hurricane.

MV Antalina

On September 11, the 584-foot (178 m) cargo ship, the MV Antalina, was among the ships that left Port Arthur to avoid the hurricane. The ship had a crew of 22 and carried a cargo of petroleum coke. On September 12, the ship's engine failed, and the ship was adrift 90 nautical miles (170 km) from the shore. The crew unsuccessfully attempted to repair the engine and requested to be evacuated by the Coast Guard, but the rescue mission was aborted because weather conditions were not within the safety parameters. The crew was forced to ride out the storm, but kept in contact with the Coast Guard.[81][82] The ship successfully rode out the storm and all 22 crew members were uninjured. On September 13, a tugboat was dispatched to return the vessel to port.[83]


A Coast Guard helicopter flying over New Iberia, Louisiana

The storm surge ahead of Ike blew onshore of Louisiana well ahead of Ike's predicted landfall in Texas on September 13. Areas in coastal south-central and southwestern Louisiana, some of which were flooded by Gustav, were re-flooded as a result of Ike.[84] Some areas that had not yet recovered from Gustav power outages received additional outages,[85] of 200,000.[86] The hardest-hit areas were in and around Cameron Parish, which also sustained catastrophic damage in 2005 from Hurricane Rita and in 1957 from Hurricane Audrey. Nearly every square inch of the coastline in that area was flooded heavily once again, with floodwater reaching as far north as Lake Charles. Hundreds of people had to be rescued,[87] including 363 people who were rescued by Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Search and Rescue teams in conjunction with the Louisiana National Guard and the U.S. Coast Guard.[88]

One person was killed in a flooded bayou in Terrebonne Parish,[89] and a wind-related death was reported near Houma.[90] Two other deaths took place in a car crash in the evacuation phase in Iberville Parish,[91] and two other storm related deaths in Jefferson Davis Parish were caused by natural causes (disease).[90] While doing repairs, two energy-company contractors from Oklahoma were electrocuted.[92]


Damage from Ike in Gilchrist, which was largely destroyed by the hurricane

On the morning of September 13, 2008, the eye of Hurricane Ike approached the upper Texas coast, making landfall at 2:10 am CDT over the east end of Galveston Island, with a high storm surge, and travelled north up Galveston Bay, along the east side of Houston [93] (see storm-path image). People in low-lying areas who had not heeded evacuation orders, in single-family one- or two-story homes, were warned by the weather service that they faced "certain death" from the overnight storm surge,[40] a statement that turned out to be true for some unable to evacuate.[94] Despite the planning and mandatory evacuation of the Galveston and the surrounding areas authorities could not prepare for the number of individuals displaced by Hurricane Ike. “There were 3,459 families made homeless by Hurricane Ike.” [95] A survey done in January 2009 showed that the, “homeless population had more than quadrupled since Hurricane Ike, from 267 in Galveston and Brazoria counties to 1,289.” [95] In 2009, “nearly 16,000 families in the Galveston-Houston area were living in temporary shelter under federal housing programs, 1700 were referred for assistance but could not be reached or were refused aid.” [95] The families that received assistance from the government were accounted for but the families who made other arrangements were not. It is just assumed that those missing people are, “staying with family or friends, moving from one host to another, paying out of their pocket for a hotel or an apartment, or living on the streets.” [95]

“The region, which already had a housing shortage, lost over 8,000 units due to the storm. Concentrations of lost housing are primarily located in the cities of Port Arthur, Sabine Pass, Bridge City, Orange, West Orange and Rose City.” [96] According to Governor Perry’s Texas rebound reports, “estimates from cities and counties in the disaster area indicate approximately 3.4 billion in total damages damage to housing in their jurisdictions of threat.” [96]

In regional Texas towns, electrical power began failing on September 12 before 8 pm CDT,[40] leaving millions without power (estimates range from 2.8 million[97] to 4.5 million[98] customers). Grocery store shelves in the Houston area were empty for weeks in the aftermath of the storm.[99]

Flood waters begin to rise in a neighborhood of Bayou Vista, Texas.

In Galveston, by 4 pm CDT (2100 UTC) on September 12, the rising storm surge began overtopping the 17-ft (5.2 m) Galveston Seawall, which faces the Gulf of Mexico;[40] waves had been crashing along the seawall earlier, from 9 am CDT.[100] Although Seawall Boulevard is elevated above the shoreline, many areas of town slope down behind the seawall to the lower elevation of Galveston Island.

Even though there were advance evacuation plans, Mary Jo Naschke, spokesperson for the city of Galveston, estimated that (as of Friday morning) a quarter of the city's residents paid no attention to calls for them to evacuate, despite predictions that most of Galveston Island would suffer heavy flooding storm tide.[100] By 6 pm Friday night, estimates varied as to how many of the 58,000 residents remained, but the figures of remaining residents were in the thousands.[101] Widespread flooding included downtown Galveston:[93] six ft (2 m) deep inside the Galveston County Courthouse, and the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston was flooded.[93] 2,400 Medical Branch employees, including 120 faculty members, were laid off after Hurricane Ike devastated the university.[102] Tourist attractions on the island suffered various degrees of damage. The Lone Star Flight Museum suffered massive damage, as the storm surge washed through the airport and hangars with about 8 feet (2.4 m) of water,[103] and the recently completed Schlitterbahn Water Park was still closed in November 2008;[104] however, Moody Gardens was built with storms in mind and was able to withstand the worst of the storm.[105]

Flooding in Galveston, Texas

In preparation of Hurricane Ike, Texas A&M University at Galveston closed on Wednesday, September 10, 2008, at 5 pm and evacuation was ordered. Ike made U.S. landfall at Galveston, Texas, on September 13 at 2:10 am. It was the second most destructive hurricane to ever make landfall in the United States. The campus was not severely damaged; however, the infrastructure of Galveston Island as a whole was. As a result of Galveston Island not being able to support nearly 1,800 students, the enormous challenge of relocating all students, administration, and staff began. On Wednesday, September 24, 2008 fall classes resumed at an inland campus in College Station. TAMUG resumed operations in Galveston in the spring of 2009.

In Houston, windows also broke in downtown buildings, including the 75-story [93] and Reliant Stadium was damaged. Also as a result of the high wind and eye wall that passed directly through the city, power outages were a major problem. Some residents were without electricity for over a month afterward. Some parts of Houston were not expected to have power until November 1. Because the storm system moved rapidly and did not linger over Houston, flooding wasn't a major problem for most of the city, as it normally is in a storm event, as a result of the topography.[93] Due to the damage to the stadium, the Houston Texans' game with the Baltimore Ravens, originally scheduled for September 14, was pushed back to November 9.[106] Hurricane Ike affected the Houston Astros' late dash for Major League Baseball's playoffs, postponing Friday, Saturday, and Sunday's games against the Chicago Cubs. [107] Two of the games were moved to Milwaukee's Miller Park and were played Sunday September 14 and Monday September 15.[108] In the September 14 game, Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano threw a no-hitter.[109] The final game was tentatively scheduled for Monday September 29 in Houston. The Astros were eliminated from playoff contention on September 26, and the game was officially canceled, as it would not affect post-season standings.[110]

Windows were broken throughout the JPMorgan Chase Tower.

On Bolivar Peninsula, Texas dozens of people were rescued as flood waters exceeded 12 feet (3.7 m) above sea level in advance of the hurricane. The peninsula bore the brunt of Ike's right-front quadrant, historically the worst part of a hurricane, and experienced catastrophic damage with the worst being between Rollover Pass and Gilchrist, Texas – west of High Island.[111] Media estimates of lost homes exceeded 80% and could top 95%.[112] A large number of people who did not evacuate in advance of the storm remain unaccounted for.

The Southeast Texas communities of Bridge City on Sabine Lake and large areas of nearby Orange (80 miles from the center of landfall) were inundated by the storm surge. Bridge City mayor Kirk Roccaforte estimated that only about 14 (later updated to around two dozen) homes in the city were unaffected by the surge.[113]

Waterfront areas of Clear Lake were flooded, with floating debris battering homes and blocking some streets, such as in the Kemah area.

NASA's Johnson Space Center suffered minor roof damage to Mission Control and minor cosmetic damage to some of its other buildings. NASA's operations at Ellington Field also sustained roof and awning damage,[114] and one hangar was severely damaged.

University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB), the primary hospital in Galveston county, was dealt significant damage due to Hurricane Ike.[115] Wide scale flooding caused failures to all facilities systems and allowed mold to invade all the buildings. All students at the UTMB medical center were transferred to other Texas medical schools immediately after the storm while determinations were made about the future of the hospital and medical school. November 12, 2008 saw thirty percent of the employees terminated in a reduction in force.[116] As of March 2009 only 1200 employees were currently employed and being paid. Another 1200 employees are on unpaid administrative leave. All emergency facilities were moved to the Houston medical center. It wasn't until August 1, 2009 that UTMB's emergency room was reopened.

As a historical comparison, on September 8, 1900 the Galveston Hurricane of 1900 landed along a path similar to Ike's, bringing with it a storm surge that inundated most of Galveston Island, which at the time was Texas' largest city and a major U.S. port. As a result, much of Galveston was destroyed, and at least 6,000 people were killed in a few hours. Engineers subsequently increased the average elevation of the island by 4 ft (1.2 m) and constructed a 17-foot (5.2-m) seawall to block incoming waves.

Low Income Populations (Galveston County and Surrounding Locations)

After Hurricane Ike hit the Gulf Coast, nearly 150 apartment complexes in Houston, Texas and surrounding areas were destroyed. Most of these apartments were occupied by low income populations. Also many communities within this area assumed that residents had their own personal transportation, but in reality most of the low income population groups, especially in the urban neighborhoods, only had public transportation. This was a big issue when it came to the evacuation plan set out for areas in Houston, Texas and other surrounding locations.[117]

Most people living in low income households prior to Hurricane Ike were more likely to return home shortly after Hurricane Ike hit despite perhaps being unable to repair their homes, and in many cases being unable to find another home because of financial difficulties. Most of these relied on local employment for income. In addition, they didn't have the resources to move away from their home and/or job for a long period of time. Higher-income populations, on the other hand, were more likely to have savings to get them through nearly a year of being away from home and/or their jobs.[118]

Parts of Galveston (north of Broadway) are home to the highest volume of rental housing on the island to low income and minority population. According to the Galveston Housing Authority, Over 50,000 families were approved to participate in government programs following Hurricane Ike. There were many negative lash-outs against some of the charity groups such as Lone Star Legal Aid for helping a lot of “low income populations, criminals, illegal immigrants, and welfare-vacuums”.[119]

Prior to Hurricane Ike, U.S. Census 2000 classified Texas as having an above-average number of individuals (nearly 22.3 percent) below the poverty line. According to Hurricane Impact Report, the city of Galveston's total population was 57,523, with 22.3% below the poverty line, compared to the Texas average of 16.2%, and the United States' average of 12.7% U.S. In addition, the official total number of homeless in City of Galveston/ Gulf Coast was 215 people, who were in shelters, while 68 were unsheltered, with a total homeless population of 283 people. This was 67.49% lone individuals and 32.5% families with one or more children.[120]

Farther Inland

Ike's storm total rainfall across the United States

On September 14, after Ike became extratropical and was enhanced by an upper level shortwave trough, a major wind event took place across the lower and middle Ohio Valley and lower Great Lakes, and significant rainfall and flooding took place to the west. The St. Louis Metropolitan Area experienced hurricane conditions, with Ike's remnants inflicting severe damage to homes. Several areas in Illinois and Indiana, already flooded by the frontal boundary to the north, saw significant additional rainfall.[121] Due to flooding in Chicago, Todd Stroger declared a state of emergency for Cook County due to flooding of the Des Plaines River. Hurricane-force wind gusts were reported to the east of the center across parts of Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania with significant wind damage including structural damage to buildings and trees. The Louisville area declared a state of emergency due to major damage and power outages, and the Louisville International Airport was closed temporarily. A LG&E spokesperson said that this was the worst power outage in 30 years.[122] Later in the day, a statewide state of emergency was declared in Kentucky by Governor Steve Beshear.[123] Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport was also temporarily shut down, and the control tower was evacuated.In Cincinnati, numerous reports of roof damage and up-rooted trees were called in to law enforcement, and on September 15, most of the schools in Hamilton County, Butler County, and Clermont County had classes cancelled because of power outages, some of which lasted seven days. Wind gusts of 75 miles per hour (121 km/h) were recorded in both Cincinnati and Columbus, which is equivalent to sustained wind levels found in a Category 1 hurricane.[124] Additionally, a state of emergency was declared in Ohio on Monday.[125] Also in Salem, Indiana and Scottsburg, Indiana, wind gusts up to 81 miles per hour (130 km/h) were recorded. In Floyds Knobs, Indiana near Louisville, Kentucky, winds were reported in excess of 70 mph. In Indiana, high winds caused more than 200,000 customers to be without power throughout the state. Wind gusts of 63 miles per hour (101 km/h) were recorded at Indianapolis International Airport. Coming to Indianapolis, on September 14, Ike also caused damages to the first-ever motorcycle Grand Prix held in Indianapolis, stopping both 125cc and MotoGP races after the two thirds of the distance, and causing the cancellation of the 250cc race. In Shannon County Missouri, an outdoor music festival was taking place; though a large tree fell causing a power outage and Sinking Creek was high there were no injuries reported. In Arkansas, about 200,000 customers lost power as a result of the winds, the worst power loss in that state since an ice storm in 2000.[126] In the Louisville area, over 300,000 customers were without power — the worst power outage in the utility's history.[122] The Cincinnati metropolitan area was hard hit as well, with over 927,000 customers losing power in that region.[127] A Duke Energy spokesperson said "We have never seen anything like this. Never. We’re talking about 90 percent of our customers without power." There were so many power outages and so few workers available Duke Energy was thinking of sending workers from their base in Charlotte, North Carolina.[128] Many homes and business were without power for 3–7 days. In the Dayton, Ohio area 300,000 of 515,000 Dayton Power & Light Co. customers lost power at some point following severe wind storms on the afternoon of September 14, according to a company spokesperson. As of Thursday morning, September 18, 90,000 DP&L customers remained without power.[129] Also hard hit were central Ohio (with over 350,000 customers losing power) and northeastern Ohio (with over 310,000 customers losing power),[130] as well as Illinois (49,000),[131] Missouri (85,000),[132] and western Pennsylvania (with over 180,000 customers losing power).[133] In western Kentucky, outside crews had to be brought in from as far away as Mississippi to restore power.[134] In Indiana, about 350,000 customers lost power statewide, mainly in the southern part of the state.[135] In New York State, over 100,000 customers were reported without power.[136] In total, 50 deaths have been blamed on Ike in the inland states.[137]


Accumulations in Canada

In Ontario, Ike's remnants brought a record amount of rain on Sunday, September 14, in the Windsor region. It was closely following a slow-moving frontal system that had drenched the city the day before, dumping 75.2 mm (2.96 in) of rain and breaking the old record of 39.1 mm (1.54 in) in 1979, according to Environment Canada. Most damage in the Windsor area with Ike was confined to downed power lines and toppled tree branches with the wind gusts reaching 80 km/h (50 mph), with spotty street flooding that made driving completely treacherous in some areas.[138] Highways were washed out in the Bruce Peninsula, and trees were uprooted in London, Ontario. The storm continued to cause wind and rain damage as it continues east along the St. Lawrence River leaving around 25,000 customers without electricity, especially in Belleville, Brockville, Bancroft, Peterborough, Bowmanville, Huntsville and Timmins.[139]

In Quebec, regions to the north of the Saint Lawrence River received 50 mm (2.0 in) to 70 mm (2.8 in) of rainfall (Hautes-Laurentides, Haute-Mauricie, Réserve faunique des Laurentides, Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, Charlevoix and Côte-Nord). Maximum rainfall was recorded between Lac-St-Jean and the Réserve faunique des Laurentides with a station recording more than 90 mm (3.5 in) of rain[140] Along the river, the amount were more in the 10 mm (0.4 in) and 30 mm (1.2 in) range, except in Quebec City area which received almost 50 mm (2.0 in), most of it between 7:00 pm and 8:00 pm[140] This rain caused small inundations, storm drain overflows, and closed one major highway.[141] In Montreal, high humidity levels pushed by the system caused electrical malfunction one of the lines of the subway, stranding commuters.[142] High winds up to 78 km/h (48 mph) caused, at their worst, over 25,000 households to lose electricity in Montreal, Laval, Estrie and Montérégie[143] and when it reached the Magdalen Islands, it had enough strength to cause a sail boat, the Océan, to sink. Its six passengers were rescued by a helicopter of the Canadian Coast Guard.[140][143]

The "Ike Spike" in gasoline prices was quite severe in Canada, with gas prices rising anywhere from 15 to 20 cents per liter.[144][145]


Ike's remnants combined with an unusual depression that affected southwestern Iceland on September 17, three days after Ike became extratropical.[146] The storm produced 9 m (30 ft) waves along southwest coasts of the island. Rainfall peaked near 200 mm (7.9 in) close to Reykjavík. Wind gusts were measured up to 89 miles per hour (143 km/h).[147] Strong winds on the backside of the system produced a large dust storm in northern areas of the island.[148]


Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas

Due to the damage wrought by Ike in the Turks and Caicos, the insular government declared the islands of Grand Turk and South Caicos as disaster areas. Damage on the islands was surveyed immediately following the hurricane's passage by a CDERA assessment team from Jamaica. Following the occurrence of extensive power outages, the Caribbean Electric Utilities Services Cooperation offered to support the restoration of power services. The British HMS Iron Duke (F234) was sent to the islands to assist in recovery efforts, and personnel from the British Red Cross were also dispatched.[149]

Criticism of FEMA

After Hurricane Ike many residents applied to FEMA for loans and FEMA trailers. Many residents were forced to wait several weeks until their trailers arrived. Some waited for up to two months living in hotels, homes of relatives several miles away, or in their homes with no power or running water. Many residents were very angry at the response that FEMA gave to the problem. Texas state leaders also accused FEMA of foot-dragging and insensitivity.[150] People able to prepare by buying insurance were declined any aid at all, even if need was proven, while people who had either bought no insurance, or inadequate insurance, were offered help. Some residents who needed a trailer had almost finished repairing their homes by the time their trailers arrived. Residents in Bridge City were outraged that FEMA had not given their homes inspections so that they could apply for loans and trailers. In an effort to help Bridge City, people in Port Neches, Nederland, and residents of Bridge City whose homes had not been damaged offered their services to the people of Bridge City in an effort to speed up the rebuilding of Bridge City.

FEMA did not provide debit cards to Ike victims, as it did for Katrina victims.[151]

Public and Mental Health Issues

Hurricane Ike also brought many health issues to the victims. Damages from the homes and the environment helped create these issues amongst the public. Following the disaster communities were challenged to provide the correct medical treatment in emergency rooms and other medical facilities. It developed stress restricting victims their basic health services. Orange County had an 88.5 percent capacity loss of intermediate care facilities reducing its overall capacity. By late October five hospitals that usually served the areas that were impacted by the hurricane stayed closed while only one hospital continued to operate but with a limit of patients.[152]

The need for mental health services increased after the disaster especially for depression and [152] Telephone interviews and mental health diagnoses were ordered randomly to households concerning the effects of Hurricane Ike. Post disaster mental health occurrences were 5.9 percent for post-traumatic stress disorder, 4.5 percent for major depressive episode, and 9.9 percent for general anxiety disorder.[153] A Galveston Bay Recovery Study (GBRS) was a survey distributed through a random stratified cluster sampling of victims in the Galveston Bay area for research on traumatic stress and disaster exposure. When surveyed victims were asked how they felt and what they experienced after the hurricane there was an immediate emotional response of fear from the loss of property, employment,displacement, and damages.[154] Children were targeted for physical abuse by parents and guardians because of loss of property and employment.[152] Results of post-traumatic stress disorder, depressive symptoms, anxiety symptoms, dysfunctions, and disabilities were reported when asked how stressful their lives have been since Hurricane Ike.[154] There was an increase of impairments, interference with social activities and health behaviors such as eating poorly, smoking more, and restlessness.[154] Development of these mental health problems were due to the lack of sufficient clean clothing, electricity, food, money, transportation, or water for at least one week.

Victims and workers face numerous residential and occupational hazards during the process of repairing their homes or community. An exposure to hazardous materials through the process created health threats of diseases, air contamination, smoke inhalation, and lead poisoning. As disaster victims return to their damaged homes children were exposed to the debris and other hazards, developing a risk of injury.[152] After the hurricane because of power outages individuals and family misused portable generators causing carbon monoxide poisoning. 82 percent to 87 percent of carbon monoxide were caused by the improper use of generators. The Texas Department of State Health Services issued that gasoline generators should not be used indoor.[155] 54 people were reported by the Texas poison centers to have storm related carbon monoxide exposure. The Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society and The Center for Disease Control reported 15 people had to undergo hyperbaric oxygen treatment for carbon monoxide poisoning.[155][156] Symptoms from exposure were headaches, nausea, and vomiting with majority of the treated cases under the age of eighteen.[156][157] The Department of State Health Services(DSHS) released health-related precautions for people in areas where flooding and electrical outages have occurred as a result of Hurricane Ike. This forced an advisory to be given to the communities to boil water from the public drinking water systems.


Hurricane Ike forced the Houston Astros and the Chicago Cubs to play out their 3 game set in Milwaukee at Miller Park.[158] Ike also forced the postponement of the second-week NFL game between the Houston Texans and the Baltimore Ravens. That postponement gave both teams a bye week in the beginning of the season on September 14, 2008. The game was later made up in Houston after repairs were made to Reliant Stadium on November 9, 2008. It also forced the NCAA football game on September 13 between the Houston Cougars and the Air Force Falcons to be moved from Robertson Stadium in Houston to Gerald Ford Stadium in Dallas.[159] Ike also forced the postponement of a Texas Longhorns game in Austin,[160] Texas due to increased evacuee traffic in the city's shelters. Tickets for World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) WrestleMania XXV were originally scheduled to go on sale September 20, 2008, but it was postponed out of concern for the residents near the Gulf of Mexico due to Hurricane Ike and the disaster area declaration by Texas Governor Rick Perry. Following another postponement due to the effect of Ike on the state of Texas, WWE announced that ticket sales would be postponed until November 8, 2008.

Relief efforts

There were a number of relief efforts set up to help those caught up in Ike, including one set up by Portlight and Weather Underground. Most of them raised at least $10,000 to help out. The Portlight/Wunderground effort created some initial controversy springing from the unexpected overwhelming response to requests for assistance..

Portlight delivered over $500,000 worth of equipment to people with disabilities and outlying communities that were impacted by Hurricane Ike. They also delivered pizza to the residents of the hard hit Bolivar peninsula and helped provide a Christmas party for residents of Bridge City, Tx. [161][162][163][164]

It should also be noted that AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps Members of Class XIV and the Southern Baptist Convention's Disaster Relief Program responded to aid in the Relief Effort by working with The Red Cross and Salvation Army throughout Texas.

Oil and gas spills

Hurricane Ike's winds, surge and giant waves tossed storage tanks and punctured pipelines. However, operators in the Gulf of Mexico (ranging from major integrated producers like BP and Shell, to small privately owned independents) shut in operations in advance of Ike's approach as a precautionary measure. As a result of these shut-ins, US oil production dropped from 5 Mbbl/d (790,000 m3/d) to 4 Mbbl/d (640,000 m3/d) in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane. By late November, production was restored to pre-Ike levels. Despite the hurricane, only 500,000 US gallons (1,900 m3) of crude oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico and the marshes, bayous and bays of Louisiana and Texas over a coastline distance of 185 miles. Much of the spillage occurred in the High Island area of Galveston County, Texas, where storm surge rose over a low-lying oilfield and flooded the marshy area around several producing wells, beam pumps and storage tanks. During the days both before and after the storm, companies and residents reported around 448 releases of gas, oil and other substances into the environment in Louisiana and Texas. The hardest hit places were industrial centers near Houston and Port Arthur, Texas, as well as oil production facilities off Louisiana's coast.

The Coast Guard, with the Environmental Protection Agency and state agencies, has responded to more than 3,000 pollution reports associated with the storm and its surge along the upper Texas coast. Most callers complain about abandoned propane tanks, paint cans and other hazardous materials containers turning up in marshes, backyards and other places.[165]

Oil Tanker SKS Satilla collision against a missing oil rig

On March 6, 2009, a 159,000-ton Norwegian tanker SKS Satilla collided with a jackup oil rig Ensco 74,[166] which had been missing after Ike struck.[167] The tanker's double hull prevented oil spill at the site 65 miles south of Galveston, which is 115 miles west of the original position of the rig.[168] Four drilling rigs including Ensco 74 were damaged by Ike, but it was the only rig missing. At least 52 oil platforms were damaged by Ike.[169]


Because of the tremendous damage, number of deaths, and people left missing, the name Ike was officially retired on April 22, 2009 by the Atlantic tropical cyclone. It will be replaced with Isaias in the 2014 season.[170]


Students at Ball High School in Galveston, Texas, created the documentary Ike: A Documentary. It premiered at Galveston's Opera House on May 21, 2009.[171] It was made available on DVD on September 13, 2009, the one year anniversary of Ike.[171]

Mark Hanna with the Insurance Council of Texas (ICT) prepared a 60-minute documentary on Hurricane Ike entitled 09-13-08, Hurricane Ike. The program aired in the spring of 2009 on 10 of the 13 PBS TV stations in Texas and may be seen at ICT's website.[172]

Chris Terrill filmed the impact of Ike on Galveston, in the second part of his three-part series Nature's Fury. The film captured the evacuation, storm surge and 17-foot (5.2 m) waves overtopping the sea wall preceding the hurricane's arrival; before and after footage of the historic Balinese Room nightclub that was destroyed in the storm; scenes on the street during 100 mph winds and lashing rain; and the devastation afterwards. [173]

Future mitigation

A commission was established by Rick Perry, the Texas Governor, following the hurricane to investigate preparing for and mitigating future disasters. A proposal has been put forth to build an "Ike Dike", a massive levee system which would protect the Galveston Bay, and the important industrial facilities which line the coast and the ship channel, from a future, potentially more destructive storm. The proposal has gained widespread support from a variety of business interests. As of 2009 it is currently only at the conceptual stage.[174]

Long-term recovery and solutions

According to the Houston Department of Health and Human Services the greatest need of households affected was obtaining food supplies. Communities that were vulnerable during the disaster needed help in how to prepare for recovery that would take longer than three to five days. More than 52.3% of households had vulnerable family members such as children under 2 years old, pregnant women, and adults over 60. Affected houses included 55%without power, 9.5% used gas-powered generators to give limited power to their house, and 29.1% used grills and camp stoves to cook food. Other families said their house's toilet did not work and no garbage pickup. Others needed assistance with getting clothing, medicine, medical care, and transportation. Certain areas of Houston did not have access to public messages sent out on how to prepare for longer long-term recovery, planning to be prepared properly, and management. There was a need for improved communication with service agencies to respond after the disaster.[175]

Most of Houston residents, roughly 3 million, were without power for weeks and lived in darkness.[176] Victims of the hurricane were staying with friends and relatives and dealing with starting over with their life and what their next step will be.[177] People helped out in affected communities through volunteering trying to help to rebuild the communities.[178] Social service and nonprofit agencies tried helping Houston and Galveston by offering services through grant money.[179] Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assisted Ike victims by heading towards a long-term recovery through Long-Term Community Recovery Branch (LTCR) by gathering federal, state, and local nongovernment agencies to help affected communities create long-term recovery resources, fix problems and concerns, plans heading towards action steps and succeed when a future disaster happens.[180]

Solutions for long-term recovery include federal and state agencies' meetings where they discuss recovery needs, planning effective ideas with state and local governments, and address needs and goals. Communities need to effectively use resources from programs and agencies offerings for recovery, coordination, and plans. Challenges may be faced in recovery efforts such as how long a federal government provides assistance, officials not able to successfully address the affected communities issues, effective authority and encouraging agencies' attention, and communicating to the realistic expectations of exactly how much resources in which leaders have available for recovery and assistance.[180] Successful long-term recovery builds the community coming back stronger, keeps going, more structured than it was before hurricane and reconstruction. FEMA's grant program created purchasing properties and move them to another area that does not flood as badly. The Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 requires communities to have plans for disaster aid and grants to identify risk and vulnerability for communities' power limitations to instill actions and assessments for comprehensive plans. FEMA Act has helped protect homes and communities promote disaster risk identification and assessment of age. After Hurricane Ike, Texas' communities started building stronger communities. Future of long-term recovery planning starts with residents being active in their community, immediate reconstruction, and long-term action enhances community and local resilience. Communities can reduce losses in the future and improve resilience by careful land use planning and development management. Action steps that can be taken to reduce threats from future hurricanes are restoring marshes and marshland, plan reconstruction in nonvulnerable areas, heighten structures for flood protection, and create building design that is simple, low in cost, and designed to handle hurricane-strength winds. Communities needed to find a way to decrease their vulnerability. Key for communication about the recovery process and planning is identifying resources, simplifying assistance, sharing information, including all important groups: improve individuality, families, and community emergency preparations.[181]

See also


  1. ^ For consistency, Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) is used for all references of time as the cyclone existed in multiple time zones throughout its existence.
  2. ^ All damage figures are in USD amounts of their respective year.


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External links

  • The NHC's archive on Hurricane Ike
  • USGS Coastal Change Hazards: Hurricanes and Extreme Storms – Hurricane Ike
  • The Big Picture (Boston) – Showing the awe-striking pictures of Hurricane Ike
  • Ike, You Bastard – Houston Press
  • Texas attorney general accuses hotel, motel of Ike price gouging
  • Hurricane Ike Book From the Houston Chronicle, the newspaper that covered the storm.
  • The Storm of 2008
  • Images of Hurricane Ike
  • Wilson, James Parker, "Policy Actions of Texas Gulf Coast Cities to Mitigate Hurricane Damage: Perspectives of City Officials" (2009). Applied Research Projects. Texas State University. Paper 312.
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