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February 2010
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Quote of the Day

We’re devoting one chapter of “Forgotten” to telling the story of what happened on the Bolivar Peninsula. I think a lot of people dismissed the damage in Crystal Beach, Gilchrist and the other peninsula communities because so many of the homes lost belonged to wealthy people who rented them to visitors. If more of the homes obliterated by Hurricane Ike belonged to full-time residents, I think the peninsula would have gotten much more sympathy, and therefore help.

Although around 17,000 Galveston families came home to some kind of flood damage, relatively few came home to absolutely nothing. Most islanders managed to salvage something from their soggy homes. But Ike left very few pieces for peninsula residents to put back together. Renee Brawner, then a science teacher at Crenshaw Middle School, and her husband Brian, a charter fishing boat captain, found nothing but a concrete slab when they returned to their Crystal Beach home two weeks after the storm. The only thing they ever found was a fishing pole. The loss devastated the couple, who planned to live in their second row beach house for the rest of their lives.

During an interview in November, Renee told me Ike took much more than her home. The storm destroyed her community, displaced her students and scattered her friends. Ike left the Brawners, and other full-time peninsula residents, without a place to call home.

“We don’t really know what the future holds for us,” she said. “Ike almost made us feel like we don’t belong anywhere.”

1 comment to Quote of the Day

  • Kathy M.

    Heartbreaking story! Many of us in that were in Ike’s destructive path in Galveston sometimes forget that the lives of many of our neighbors and those in surrounding communities were destroyed as well. I try to justify all the media attention to the devastation in Haiti and New Orleans, horrified by the loss of life. After Ike, many of us were chastised for living on an island, in a hurricane-prone area as if we had it coming. We’ve managed to repair our damage and get back to as “normal” a life as possible. Others were not so lucky!

    If you need a lift, make a trip to New Orleans! :) While most people (even in Texas) don’t know what we have experienced, the people of New Orleans truly understand what we’ve been through! When asked in New Orleans, “where ya’ll from” and the response is “Galveston”, you can see the compassion in their eyes, when they touch your arm and asked, “how ya’ll doing?”. I could rant for hours, but I just respond (a little teary-eyed), “we’re doing fine; thanks for asking”. They get it.

    Leigh, keep up the good work. I can’t wait to purchase our own copy!