Ike's Wrath: Entire Towns Disappear

In fatal aftermath of Hurricane Ike, thousands of Texas residents seek relief.

ByABC News
September 15, 2008, 7:54 AM

Sept. 15, 2008 — -- As frustrations mount over delays in providing basic supplies to survivors of Hurricane Ike, the first glimpses of previously inaccessible areas revealed a string of ghost towns reduced to rubble.

Search and rescuers from the Sacramento Metro Fire Department found 60 survivors on the Bolivar Peninsula, the sliver of sand that sits across Galveston Bay from the city of Galveston, according to the Associated Press. Emergency officials estimate that 400 to 500 of the 30,000 residents remained on the Peninsula during the storm; officials plan to keep searching into the night on Monday, and remain uncertain of what the death toll will be.

Law enforcement did not reach Crystal Beach, a community located on the Bolivar Peninsula, until Monday afternoon, according to reports from ABC News affiliate KTRK. The area had previously been closed to residents and media by authorities and there still appeared to be no sign of local officials in Gilchrest, the neighboring town, at that time.

The bay was littered with people's belongings, parts of homes, water heaters, even remains of cattle and other debris. Onshore, the entire Bolivar community was covered in several inches of mud and the scope of the loss is almost incomprehensible.

"It's devastating, it's heartbreaking," said Chuck Jones, a member of the search and rescue team. "We are Texans. These are our fellow Texans. We are worried about their loss, their homes, their property."

Bolivar may have been the hardest hit by Ike's 110 mph winds and estimated 16-foot storm surge. Towns all along the peninsula were virtually flattened by the treacherous winds, rain and floods from Hurricane Ike.

Over the town Gilchrist, seen from a helicopter, a single home stands alone, behind it a long stretch of waterfront homes have disappeared, pulverized by the wind and the storm surge. The bridge to this coastal area has buckled and officials found a car wrapped around a house.

Massive debris such as wood and the sides of houses clogged the peninsula's intercoastal waterway. In Port Bolivar, although some houses were still standing, many leaned on their stilts. The water appeared to have come up to a few feet below the homes' roof tops, about 16 to 18 feet, according to KTRK-TV.

In Crystal Beach, the scene was even grimmer. A camper that had been ripped to shreds lay submerged in the canal alongside a mobile home and a giant sailboat that had both been destroyed.

Despite the devastation and reports of residents who decided to ride out the storm, Gov. Rick Perry would not confirm any deaths on Bolivar.

A reporter on the scene saw several helicopters flying around the scene as well as two game wardens who were conducting their own search and rescue in air boats.

"I was in Galveston six years. This pretty much surprises me," one told KTRK. "This is pretty devastating."

Neither knew of how many injuries or fatalities had been determined in the area.

As Texas continued its largest search and rescue mission ever in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike, residents affected by the storm waited for hours to get the most basic essentials, such as ice, food and water.