Tag Archives: Galveston

Atlantic Hurricane Season Starts Today

Today, June 1 marks the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season.

The edge of hurricane Claudette arrives in Pensacola. Photo R. Anderson

The edge of hurricane Claudette arrives in Pensacola.
Photo R. Anderson

I realize for many people not living near the coast this fact does not hold much water.

But, for those people near the shore today marks the start of a six-month period of keeping their eyes on the skies and hoping for another year free from the devastation that a direct hit by a hurricane can cause.

When I lived in Florida I rode out many hurricanes from about 30 miles inland. That central location meant that by the time the storm reached me it was normally just a wind and rain maker.

The Gulf of Mexico churns ahead of the arrival of a hurricane. Photo R. Anderson

The Gulf of Mexico churns ahead of the arrival of a hurricane.
Photo R. Anderson

The highlight of those storms being a water spout that picked up a school of catfish and deposited them in my parents’ yard.

I can still picture my mom running around trying to save all of the fish that were very much out of water.

Since leaving Florida I have had a few vacations cut short due to the pending arrival of storms that I have had to outrun in my car to reach the safety of home and avoid getting stuck. To that end I try to avoid travel during the peak of hurricane season now to minimize the chances of having a trip washed out.

Upon moving to Texas I came a little closer to the shore through my proximity to Galveston Bay. While still around 30 miles from the Gulf of Mexico the Bay acts as a direct line for storm surge as demonstrated during Hurricane Ike.

Like moths to the flame news vans like this one on the Seawall in Galveston become a familiar sight before and after the arrival of a hurricane. Photo R. Anderson

Like moths to the flame news vans like this one on the Seawall in Galveston become a familiar sight before and after the arrival of a hurricane.
Photo R. Anderson

In the little over a decade that I have lived in Texas I have evacuated ahead of the storm twice.

The first time included a 17 hour drive to Irving (a drive that normally would take five hours when not ensnared in bumper to bumper traffic) and a more reasonable seven hour drive to Gulfport, Mississippi during the aforementioned Hurricane Ike.

Hurricane Ike marked the closet I ever came to losing everything to a hurricane. Ike made landfall right at the mouth of the Bay which allowed the floodwater and storm surge to push well inland. When I returned back home I realized that the damaging floodwater stopped a mere two miles from my house.

While waiting out the storm in Gulfport I was glued to the television set watching the coverage of the pending storm. Ironically by evacuating east for the storm I actually experienced some of the outer bands of Ike in Gulfport before it made landfall in Texas.

Returning back home was like driving through a foreign land. There were still familiar sites but the parts of buildings strewn everywhere made it clear just how powerful the storm was.

A news van from New Orleans waits for the storm to hit in Pensacola. Photo R. Anderson

A news van from New Orleans waits for the storm to hit in Pensacola.
Photo R. Anderson

One particular comment from the reporters on the seen was the proclamation that the Galveston Hooter’s restaurant was gone.

Truth be told, the Hooter’s was one of many buildings perched on stilts above the water that were picked up and tossed onto the seawall like Tinker Toys.

But for whatever reason the reporter on the scene felt that the most prudent way to help the viewers at home understand the scope of the damage was to focus on the loss of the Hooter’s. The singling out of the Hooter’s made me laugh for some reason which may have just been a coping mechanism since I did not know what I would be coming home to.

To this day when I am driving along the seawall I will stop at the spot where the Hooter’s once stood and in my best Anderson Cooper voice will proclaim that the Hooter’s is gone.

Much like the Hooter's restaurant the 61st Street pier fell victim to the pounding storm surge of Hurricane Ike. While the Hooter's has yet to be rebuilt a new version of the pier has returned to the shore. Photo R. Anderson

Much like the Hooter’s restaurant the 61st Street pier fell victim to the pounding storm surge of Hurricane Ike. While the Hooter’s has yet to be rebuilt a new version of the pier has returned to the shore.
Photo R. Anderson

After Ike the area around me rebuilt and for the most part there are few signs of the furry of the storm.

There are still pockets that have not come back and individuals still dealing with the loss but by and large a first time visitor to Galveston would not really be able to tell that a storm had flooded so much of the island.

The same is true in other places that have had storms hit. After the water recedes the cleanup begins and lives are slowly put back together.

The Flagship Hotel in Galveston was another victim to the power of Ike. The area has since been converted to the Galveston Historic Pleasure Pier. Photo R. Anderson

The Flagship Hotel in Galveston was another victim to the power of Ike. The area has since been converted to the Galveston Historic Pleasure Pier.
Photo R. Anderson

With the exception of Super Storm Sandy it has been a few years since a storm of the major category has made landfall in the United States.

Here’s to hoping for another year where the big storms stay away.

But if a storm does head this way this year I think I will most likely ride it out. It is not that I am being brave or foolish for that matter it is just that after seeing the worst that a storm can do from afar I would rather be up close and relatively safe than battling the thousands of people on the road heading north.

Now if you’ll excuse me I am off to check my hurricane supplies.

Copyright 2015 R. Anderson

Of Seaweed and Seawalls

Recently it was announced that parking along the Seawall in Galveston would no longer be free.

City leaders had been trying for years to turn the parking spots along the beach into revenue so the fact that they succeeded in finding a way to do that should really surprise no one.

Of course whether they are providing a product that is worth paying to see is another issue entirely.

Starting last month parking along the seawall in Galveston was no longer free. While it now costs more to see it there is little evidence that the view has improved. Photo R. Anderson

Starting last month parking along the seawall in Galveston was no longer free. While it now costs more to see it, there is little evidence that the view has improved.
Photo R. Anderson

It is no secret that while I am a fan of the town of Galveston and its various historic places, my affinity for the island ends pretty much where the seawall begins. To put it bluntly Galveston has an ugly beach that one could not pay me to swim in.

So when it was announced that visitors would now have to pay for the privilege of parking along the seaweed covered shores it made me laugh.

The parking meter system that was chosen made me laugh even more since it seems to discriminate against people who do not have cell phones.

That’s right boys and girls one now needs a cell phone or another means of wireless access to the web to pay for a parking spot on the seawall since the meters do not accept cash or credit cards.

I know that it is assumed in this day and age that everyone has at least one cell phone.  So, I am sure that making owning a phone the only way to pay to park seemed like a good idea. Unfortunately the new meters leave out the part of the population that does not carry a cell phone with them. So how is that keeping the beach open to all?

So setting aside the whole Texas Open Beaches law which states access to the beaches should be free to all and there are several other areas where the new meters seemed destined to meet legal challenges.

In fact, several lawsuits challenging the new meters have already been filed so it will be interesting to see whether the meters stay or go.

Now, I have nothing against paying to park when I go to downtown Houston to watch an  Astros game since those meters are the good old fashioned type that take cash and even a credit card.

Since being built over 100 years ago there have been many changes outside the Hotel Galvez. The latest change is the addition of parking meters which ironically do not accept change. Photo R. Anderson

Since being built over 100 years ago there have been many changes outside the Hotel Galvez. The latest change is the addition of parking meters which ironically do not accept change.
Photo R. Anderson

And while I own a cell phone if I had to stand on the street and make a telephone call to park I would find that a huge inconvenience and it would probably make me go downtown less often.

And I certainly am not against the idea of paying for certain premium parking when one goes to a beach.  When I go to Pensacola I usually pay to go to the beaches inside the boundaries of Fort Pickens National Park.

For about $10 I get unlimited access to the beaches for about a week. But that is a National Park where admission prices go towards keeping everything nice and clean so I gladly pay.

But, aside from the boundaries of the National Park all of the other beaches near Pensacola are free to park at.

The same is true for most every other beach I have ever been to. And the beaches that do have parking meters are the coin or credit card type which means that anyone with some change in their pocket can enjoy the beach.

Galveston definitely has a seaweed problem. While it was once free to see this view, with the installation of parking meters this view will now cost you. Photo R. Anderson

Galveston definitely has a seaweed problem. While it was once free to see this view, with the installation of parking meters this view will now cost you.
Photo R. Anderson

But assuming that the new meters along the Seawall are somehow deemed constitutional and are allowed to stay I certainly hope that the revenue is used to improve the actual beach experience there and not just charging people to pay for the same thing that was free for hundreds of years.

Of course while adding parking meters is certainly a negative change to Galveston in terms of being tourist friendly there was some other news that made me think that perhaps they are finally understanding the need to present more of a nice beach for those visiting tourists and their monies.

This glimmer of hope came in the form of an announcement that at long last the tons of seaweed that wash up onto the shore would finally be collected and not allowed to just sit on the shore and rot.

It seems a no brainer to have a beach rake that combs the sand each morning and removes any debris that washed ashore. I have never understood why Galveston did not have such a system in place.

Of course one can always travel a few hours east of Galveston to see seaweed free beaches. Photo R. Anderson

Of course one can always travel a few hours east of Galveston to see seaweed free beaches.
Photo R. Anderson

But now it seems the seaweed will be harvested and used to restore the dunes which is certainly a better use for it than shoreline sand blanket.

So I guess one has to take the bad news of paying to park with the glimmer of hope that the seaweed will be removed from the shore. Personally as someone who does not really go to the seawall that often I will not be affected by the pay to park plan.

I will still go for the Mardi Gras parades each year but as far as spending a day in the sand and the surf, that is what the beaches of Florida are for.

Now if you’ll excuse me, all of this talk about seaweed on Galveston has me in the mood for some spinach.

Copyright 2013 R. Anderson

Expert Warns of Rising Seas, Just Not Sure When They Will Rise

Yesterday I was scanning the local news, as I often do, and I noticed a particular headline that got my attention.

The headline basically said that according to a researcher, rising sea levels will put Galveston, TX 25 percent underwater.  Since I live near Galveston, I decided it was an article that I needed to read to find out if I needed to pack the Jeep and head for higher ground, or perhaps invest in a house boat, to avoid the coming flood waters.

Experts are divided regarding just how high the sea level will rise in the coming centuries. Photo R. Anderson

Experts are divided regarding just how high the sea level will rise in the coming centuries.
Photo R. Anderson

Now I should know by now that the local media in this part of Texas, and perhaps everywhere now, tries to raise the level of sensationalism to epic levels in every story that they post.

So, the headline should have been a huge red flag to me since this was the same paper that just the day before had sensationalized a traffic stop involving a man legally carrying a gun by saying “Man pulled over by police in north Texas with gun in car.”

Of course in Texas I am sure that people with the legal right to carry a concealed handgun or rifle are pulled over every day by police without incident. The gun laws state that a concealed gun owner must alert the officer to the presence of the concealed firearm, and the traffic stop continues as normal just as it would were there not a gun in the car.

What made this particular gun in car police stop more  tasty for the “if it bleeds it leads” newspaper was the fact that the man in the story pulled over with the gun was none other than George Zimmerman who was recently acquitted by a jury of his peers in Florida of manslaughter charges.

Had it been any other man with a gun in the car getting pulled over it would not have been news. And the officer did not even issue a ticket as Zimmerman was left with just a warning.

So with that and many other examples of poor reporting from my local media I should have taken the rising sea levels story as another example of Chicken Little the sky is falling reporting and nothing more.

And of course after reading the article that was exactly what it was. Basically according to the expert quoted in the article in 87 to 100 years, when most of the people reading this article will no longer be alive, the oceans are expected to rise and cover 25 percent of the current land along the coast.

After that more and more land will be covered every few decades until at some point Dallas, which is around four and a half hours from Galveston, becomes a beachfront town.

Actually, Dallas as a beachfront town might not be a bad thing since the only thing I really don’t like about Dallas, aside from the high occurrence of tornadoes, is the lack of a decent beach nearby.

Views like this could be coming to cities that are currently inland if theories on sea level rise are to be believed. Photo R. Anderson

Views like this could be coming to cities that are currently inland if theories on sea level rise are to be believed.
Photo R. Anderson

So as has been the case for years the rising waters of the future are being blamed on polar ice melt caused by man made greenhouse gases, etc.  While it is certainly important to do what one can as a society to ensure that climate change is not heightened through the efforts of man, there is tons of evidence showing that the change has little to do with man’s activities.

I am certainly a believer that the climate goes in cycles of change and there was another article in the paper that had me less concerned about the rising sea levels (beyond the comfort of knowing that I won’t be alive to see it).

There is a beach near Beaumont, TX that has arrowheads and other primitive tools wash up on shore from time to time.  The items tend to wash up after a big storm churns up the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

It is believed that the items come from long submerged villages about 25 miles out to sea. So that stands to reason that there has been ocean encroachment for centuries if not eons.  And it is highly doubtful the early residents were emitting massive amounts of greenhouse gases leading to the flooding of their villages.

Get you beach front property complete with pelicans in Dallas while you can. Of course you will not be alive when the beach gets there but your grand kids can take advantage of your thoughtfulness. Photo R. Anderson

Get your beach front property complete with pelicans in Dallas while you can. Of course you will not be alive when the beach gets there but your great great grand kids can take advantage of your thoughtfulness.
Photo R. Anderson

The seas will rise and fall again as they have before. As Eugene Levy’s character in the American Pie movies would say, “It’s a perfectly, ah, natural kind of thing.”

So despite headlines announcing pending doom and despair brought on by rising waters along the coast, the effects are centuries away from reaching the level of devastation seen in the Hollywood disaster films.

And who’s to say that the Earth doesn’t get destroyed by a huge asteroid before the oceans gobble up the shoreline since according to some people in the United States space industry that is the real threat facing the third rock from the sun.

And while I hold little faith in NASA’s asteroid lassoing efforts ever getting off of the ground, I certainly believe that technology will exist by the time the seas are rising to coast swallowing levels to pump the water inland for irrigation and desalination or find some other way to win the battle at the shoreline.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go put a down payment on some future beachfront property in Dallas in case I live to be 150.

Copyright 2013 R. Anderson

North Winds Blow! South Winds Blow! Typhoons… Hurricanes… Earthquakes! SMOG!

Tomorrow, June 1 marks the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season.

The edge of hurricane Claudette arrives in Pensacola. Photo R. Anderson

The edge of hurricane Claudette arrives in Pensacola.
Photo R. Anderson

I realize for many people not living near the coast this fact does not hold much water. But, for those people near the shore tomorrow marks the start of a six-month period of keeping their eyes on the skies and hoping for another year free from the devastation that a direct hit by a hurricane can cause.

When I lived in Florida I rode out many hurricanes from about 30 miles inland. That central location meant that by the time the storm reached me it was normally just a wind and rain maker.

The Gulf of Mexico churns ahead of the arrival of a hurricane. Photo R. Anderson

The Gulf of Mexico churns ahead of the arrival of a hurricane.
Photo R. Anderson

The highlight of those storms being a water spout that picked up a school of catfish and deposited them in my parents’ yard.  I can still picture my mom running around trying to save all of the fish that were very much out of water.

Since leaving Florida I have had a few vacations cut short due to the pending arrival of storms that I have had to outrun in my car to reach the safety of home and avoid getting stuck. To that end I try to avoid travel during the peak of hurricane season now to minimize the chances of having a trip washed out.

Upon moving to Texas I came a little closer to the shore through my proximity to Galveston Bay. While still around 30 miles from the Gulf of Mexico the Bay acts as a direct line for storm surge as demonstrated during Hurricane Ike.

Like moths to the flame news vans like this one on the Seawall in Galveston become a familiar sight before and after the arrival of a hurricane. Photo R. Anderson

Like moths to the flame news vans like this one on the Seawall in Galveston become a familiar sight before and after the arrival of a hurricane.
Photo R. Anderson

In the little over a decade that I have lived in Texas I have evacuated ahead of the storm twice. The first time included a 17 hour drive to Irving (a drive that normally would take five hours when not ensnared in bumper to bumper traffic) and a more reasonable seven hour drive to Gulfport, Mississippi during the aforementioned Hurricane Ike.

Hurricane Ike marked the closet I ever came to losing everything to a hurricane. Ike made landfall right at the mouth of the Bay which allowed the floodwater and storm surge to push well inland.  When I returned back home I realized that the damaging floodwater stopped a mere two miles from my house.

While waiting out the storm in Gulfport I was glued to the television set watching the coverage of the pending storm. Ironically by evacuating east for the storm I actually experienced some of the outer bands of Ike in Gulfport before it made landfall in Texas.

Returning back home was like driving through a foreign land. There were still familiar sites but the parts of buildings strewn everywhere made it clear just how powerful the storm was.

A news van from New Orleans waits for the storm to hit in Pensacola. Photo R. Anderson

A news van from New Orleans waits for the storm to hit in Pensacola.
Photo R. Anderson

One particular comment from the reporters on the seen was the proclamation that the Galveston Hooter’s restaurant was gone.

Truth be told, the Hooter’s was one of many buildings perched on stilts above the water that were picked up and tossed onto the seawall like Tinker Toys. But for whatever reason the reporter on the scene felt that the most prudent way to help the viewers at home understand the scope of the damage was to focus on the loss of the Hooter’s.  The singling out of the Hooter’s made me laugh for some reason which may have just been a coping mechanism since I did not know what I would be coming home to.

To this day when I am driving along the seawall I will stop at the spot where the Hooter’s once stood and in my best Anderson Cooper voice will proclaim that the Hooter’s is gone.

Much like the Hooter's restaurant the 61st Street pier fell victim to the pounding storm surge of Hurricane Ike. While the Hooter's has yet to be rebuilt a new version of the pier has returned to the shore. Photo R. Anderson

Much like the Hooter’s restaurant the 61st Street pier fell victim to the pounding storm surge of Hurricane Ike. While the Hooter’s has yet to be rebuilt a new version of the pier has returned to the shore.
Photo R. Anderson

After Ike the area around me rebuilt and for the most part there are few signs of the furry of the storm.

There are still pockets that have not come back and individuals still dealing with the loss but by and large a first time visitor to Galveston would not really be able to tell that a storm had flooded so much of the island.

The same is true in other places that have had storms hit. After the water recedes the cleanup begins and lives are slowly put back together.

The Flagship Hotel in Galveston was another victim to the power of Ike. The area has since been converted to the Galveston Historic Pleasure Pier. Photo R. Anderson

The Flagship Hotel in Galveston was another victim to the power of Ike. The area has since been converted to the Galveston Historic Pleasure Pier.
Photo R. Anderson

With the exception of Super Storm Sandy it has been a few years since a storm of the major category has made landfall in the United States. Here’s to hoping for another year where the big storms stay away.

But if a storm does head this way this year I think I will most likely ride it out.  It is not that I am being brave or foolish for that matter it is just that after seeing the worst that a storm can do from afar I would rather be up close and relatively safe than battling the thousands of people on the road heading north.

Now if you’ll excuse me I am off to check my hurricane supplies.

Copyright 2013 R. Anderson