A Year Later, Bolivar Healing Slowly

As the sun rose one year ago yesterday, the path of destruction left behind by Hurricane Ike became a lot more real with the morning light. Nowhere was the devastation felt worse than on the Bolivar Peninsula, a swath of land 27 miles long that took the brunt of Ike’s arrival. As Jack Williams reports, a year after Ike, Bolivar is starting to feel and look normal again.


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“Stacy’s, may I help you? Sure thing George. With a little bit of onion, right? Okay, bye.”

At Stacy’s, the sign out front says “hot food, cooked to order”, and Stacy Downs means it. She’s frying up some bacon for a breakfast burrito.

“It’s been slowly returning to normal.”
She opened her little restaurant, basically a trailer and a tarp along busy Highway 87 in Crystal Beach, about three
months after Ike.

“When I first opened, it was all debris workers, all FEMA people, all contractors and then March, Spring Break happened and the tourists started coming back. So it’s just been totally changed from one group of people to another.”

At Parker Lumber just down the road, business has been good since Ike.

“There’s a lot of the people that lived here all their lives and they just as soon come right back and build their houses and live like nothing ever happened down here.” 

Bryce Borden directs traffic in the lumber yard, with forklifts unloading plywood and other building materials. 

“It will always be in the back of my head what happened last year. You know, you leave, never thought anything
like that would happen and you come back and see that everything’s gone and no job for a while for most people.
Even one year afterward or two years afterward it’s still going to be the same. People are still going to remember
the hurricane.”

“Come in.”

In a small, white trailer next to the tattered shell of the Crystal Beach Volunteer Fire Department, Chief David Loop has seen it all.

“I’ve been the chief here 15 years. I’ve been on the peninsula since I was about 14.”

He helped with high water rescues until just a few hours before Ike hit. Now, he’s watching his community slowly heal.

“Considering the devastation that was down in this area, I think it’s quite remarkable that you see as many people as you do down here, and of course we just got finished with the summertime basically down here and there were quite a few people down. They were enjoying the beaches and the water. Of course there is a lot of debris still moving around and things seem to work pretty well.”   

The recovery hasn’t been easy for Jim and Carol Moreland. They still aren’t back home a year after their blue beach house was blown away by Ike.

“We’re never going to forget it. We look at the pictures that we had before and then we’ve got pictures looking like this. It’s never going to be forgotten.” 

Now with a measuring tape and a lot of optimism, the Morelands say they plan to start rebuilding within just a few weeks.

“We kind of debated on whether we wanted to do this or not. We’d come over and we’d go down and look at the water. The water sure looks nice you know and so we decided to go for it.”

In the past year, businesses on Bolivar have re-opened, huge piles of debris have been picked up, people have moved back, even the school has re-opened, all signs of life returning to normal in an area that still shows the deep scars of Ike.

Jack Williams. KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.

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