80 years old and starting over, that was the sad reality of the facts. There was no denying that around 5 feet of flood water had gotten into the house and there was no denying that the couple did not have flood insurance. The hard wood flooring that everyone had liked so much, after the water went down the flooring swelled and split the walls. There was so much pressure generated from the swelling wood floors, that not only did the walls split, but some of them were pushed off the concert slab.
Having lived in Bridge City for most of their lives, neither the husband nor the wife had ever heard of the type of flooding that was on the way. Hurricane Ike was like a dark cloud in the distance, almost like a bad dream, but this dream was real. For decades Southeast Texas had avoided the critical strike of a major Hurricane.
In 1969, Hurricane Camille made landfall near the mouth of the Mississippi River.
In August of 1992, Hurricane Andrew was working its way towards Southeast Texas and Southwest Louisiana. But the wind currents turned Andrew to the North, and Andrew Made landfall around Morgan City, Louisiana.
In August of 2005, Hurricane Katrina made landfall in the New Orleans area.
In September of 2005, Hurricane Rita made landfall in Orange, Texas. Orange is about 10 – 15 miles to the east side of Bridge City. Even though Rita made a direct hit, there was little inland flooding in the Southeast Texas area.
When Hurricane Ike was approaching Galveston, there was little need for concern for the residents of Bridge City and Orange. After all, Hurricane Rita had made a direct hit to the area just three years earlier. The only real problem after that Rita was being without power for one or two weeks. With the memory of Rita fresh in their minds, most people were more concerned with their generators then with a flood insurance policy.
About 30 miles south of Port Arthur Texas there is a set of offshore drilling rigs. These rigs are also called platforms, they are arraigned in a circle several miles across and are also used for weather measurements. Some of these oil platforms have wind gauges and tidal measurement devices attached to them and transmit a signal to the National Weather Service. These platforms provide an extra level of weather measurement for the residents of Southeast Texas and Southwest Louisiana.
As Hurricane Ike was approaching Galveston, the weather service received reports from some of these oil platforms that the tidal surge was going to be bad. One Weather Buoy reported about a 20 foot surge just before it stopped transmitting. By the time the weather service realized what was going on, and reported this information to the public it was already too late for many people.
When a tropical storm or hurricane enters the Gulf of Mexico, insurance companies stop writing new policies. When Hurricane Ike entered the Gulf of Mexico, it was too late for thousands of people and they just did not know it yet.
Hurricane Ike made landfall in Galveston Texas and brought with it flood waters that Southeast Texas has never seen before.
Those people that had evacuated were eager for news. Calls to friends and family members went unreturned. Why was there no news getting back to those that needed to know the state of their homes? Unknown to those people outside the affected areas, just about all forms of communications had been shut down. The main phone line circuit boxes, the same ones that had severed the community for decades are now submerged under water.
The roads that had been driven on for years were now underwater. Parts of South East Texas were islands all to their selves. For those that needed help, there was none. Those that wanted to help, there was no way to do so. As the flood waters slowly receded, the truth was revealed. And how harsh the truth can be.
Over the past few decades, thousands of families had become complacent that flood waters would never reach them. After all, Bridge City and Orange are about 20 miles inland. What kind of event would have to happen to push water from the Gulf of Mexico 20 miles? And more then that, what could push the flood waters so it would be several feet deep?
Those that were complacent paid the price.
Those that were not complacent, they also paid a heavy price. There are some things that insurance money can not replace. How can a price be put on a family picture from years ago? How can a price be put on something that can not be replaced? There is something that can never be replaced or brought back, and that is time.
As life was trying to return to Bridge City, I went around checking on my childhood friends and their parents. While I was driving by one of my buddies parents house, a neighbor was standing across the street. The people I wanted to check on, they were not home so I stopped and talked with the neighbor. That is when I got the news. The people I wanted to know about, they are between the ages of 80 and 83 years old. Even though their house is only about 6 feet above sea level, they did not have flood insurance.