Sun Times Editor
Call it a double-down, a double-dose, or just an example of double trouble from Mother Nature this past week, as massive Hurricane Ike left indelible marks from the lower Texas coast all the way east across Louisiana to parts of coastal Florida.
Ike officially slammed ashore at Galveston Island, Texas at 2:10 a.m. Saturday morning as a strong Category 2 hurricane with winds topping 110 miles per hour.
The storm, almost as big as the State of Texas, blasted an estimated 600-mile stretch of coastline in Louisiana, Texas and points beyond, causing deaths, breached levees, flooded roads, downed trees, building fires, and massive property damage.
More than a million people were forced to evacuate their homes and seek shelter inland from Ike’s furious winds, heavy rainfall, and vicious storm surge.
Just a week before, much of Louisiana was pummeled by Hurricane Gustav, which made landfall near Houma in southeast Louisiana. Gustav moved westward, and then veered north to batter the rest of the Pelican State in the process.
But Hurricane Ike, one of the biggest storms ever to enter the Gulf of Mexico, left most of its victims soaked, battered, dazed, and without essential electrical power.
Locally, rising waters filled homes in coastal Calcasieu, Vermilion and Cameron Parishes and continued as a threat for bays and waterways inland.
In Jeff Davis Parish, Lake Arthur residents experienced wind gusts over 70 miles per hour, with local flooding, downed trees, and broken limbs left in Ike’s wake.
Further west in the Town of Welsh, it was much of the same, as inhabitants hustled to clean up property damage attributed to Ike.
More extensive damage was sustained as you traveled west to Texas, with coastal communities inundated with water pushed ashore during Ike’s tidal surge.
At 1:15 a.m. Saturday morning, the storm surge at Sabine Pass, Texas, just across the Sabine River from the Louisiana border, was more than 12 1/2 feet above sea level. That was the highest ever recorded at that location, topping surges produced there by Hurricane Audrey in 1957 and Hurricane Rita in 2005.
As of Saturday afternoon, search and rescue missions were being made near Galveston, but were hindered by high water and structural damage caused by Ike.
Fatalities numbered in the single digits, thanks to successful coordinated evacuation efforts mandated by government officials to residents living in low-lying areas.
As time progressed, officials in Texas did expect to find more potential victims of Ike’s fury.
In Louisiana’s Vermilion Parish, sheriff’s deputies had to rescue three people after high water stalled their cars. Emergency officials went on record warning residents to stay out of areas south of La. 14 until further notice.
Power was unavailable to millions of customers as of press time, and many were not expected to regain electricity for several weeks. That included some victims of last week’s Hurricane Gustav, who were still working on regaining power before being stymied by Hurricane Ike.