New Camera Experiments Continue Saturday, Nov 15 2008 

Trying the Night Setting on the New Camera

13 November 2008

Here’s another link to a Galveston Recovery/Hurricane Ike story:

http://www.galveston.com/news198/

The news is still bleak from that crazy little island.  It becomes increasingly evident that the island will never be the same—so many businesses that will never be back, others that need six to twelve months to even think about re-opening.  It does start to make one wonder just what flavour of insanity gripped those who in the nineteenth century decided that building a city on a small barrier island was a good idea.

On the subject of Galveston, recently I very much enjoyed reading the featured article in the Fort Worth Weekly, entitled A Tale of Two Storms by Tom Curtis.  It was the cover story and Kyle spotted it and brought it home for me, knowing I’d devour it, as I do nearly everything dealing with Galveston and her history.  This article actually reminded me of some of the points I’ve written about: questionable media coverage, evacuation weariness, and he clearly outlines Ike’s assault and explains why the damage was so great.  It’s well worth the read, so for sharing purposes, I found it online, here:  http://www.fwweekly.com/content.asp?article=7279

Today’s photo is pathetic, but it’s what I’ve got.  I am definitely at the bottom of a very big learning curve. 

We grabbed a quick dinner at Chili’s where a delightful young waitress by the name of Kayla saved us from our own crankiness over the unruly behaviour of all the children in the bar!  Yes—in the bar.  <shrug> She said all the right things and offered all the right sympathy/empathy.  If you visit the new Chili’s at Little Road and 287, ask for Kayla—she rocks.  I’m pretty sure she isn’t old enough to drink the margaritas she brings us, but she’s savvy beyond her years.  Anyway, our meal was tasty and the annoying people all left before we did! 

~MB

Dilated Thursday, Sep 25 2008 

Dilated

25 September 2008

After meeting Kyle and a couple of his co-workers for lunch at Mi Tierra Latin Fusion Restaurant in downtown Arlington, TX (perfectly yummy, as always!) Kyle and I went together to his afternoon eye appointment.  I took this alien-looking photo of his left eye, while we were waiting for the doctor.

Not a great photo, I know—I was rushed, and for some reason I couldn’t hold still enough to get a good image.  And, of course, with his pupils dilated so drastically, Kyle was also having trouble not blinking for me.  But, the end result of the whole process, is that Kyle came through all the screening and testing with flying colours.  He is scheduled for LASIK surgery tomorrow!!!  He is so excited he can hardly stand it!  Saturday morning, he will wake up and be able to see the alarm clock!  The glasses we just bought him in June will become little more than a paperweight!  I just asked him if he’s nervous and he said ‘no.’

That makes one of us! 😉  I’ll feel better when it’s all over.

Galveston News:

We knew, of course, when Hurricane Ike first turned in toward the Gulf of Mexico, that our December plans could be impacted.  We watched with interest, then concern, and finally with fear, as the storm worsened and the projected storm path became clearly focused on Galveston.  We checked on our friends, offered beds and anxiously watched news reports as the storm surge  hit, and then as the wind and rain battered the coast.  And then, as the storm passed over Texas and headed northeast, we searched for news of damage.  Every day, even nearly two weeks later, we google words—Ike, hurricane, Galveston, historic, Strand, Tremont, damage, recovery, etc.—in various combinations, hoping for a news article, a photo, a blog entry, an interview—something—containing “new” news about our beloved Galveston and the recovery efforts going on there.

Here, on The Daily KRuMB, we’ve tried to keep our own readership up to date on our findings, by copying text, including links, and sharing tidbits of news we’ve uncovered.  Just recently, I personally reported two important bits of information that many of our friends were specifically anxious to know.  1.  That I’d been given the official word that the Dickens on the Strand Festival was indeed going to happen this year, and 2.  That the Mitchell properties, including the Tremont House Hotel, were planning to reopen on the 15th of October.

Unfortunately, as some of you now know, the second of those reports has now been proven false.  From what I understand, Ginger received word from the catering department, that the hotel would remain closed until after the new year begins.  Since this information differed from what I’d reported, she sent a query directly to her best contact within the Tremont Hotel management.  This is the response she got:

Hi Ginger, I hope all is well! It is true the Tremont is closed as the hotel sat under water for days. We have started demo to the ballroom and the hotel will follow in the morning. We lost almost everything on the first floor from the front of the house to the back of the house. We do plan on reopening by the first weekend of Mardi Gras. I can look at changing your sleeping rooms to the hotel Galvez when I return to work on Friday. This is a disappointment to all of us; as the Tremont is rich in the history of Galveston. I will contact you soon with our progress.

Marcus Hennigan
Guest services Manager
The Tremont & Harbor House Hotel Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

After further investigation, I found this, from from BOI Galvestonian Christine Hopkins’ blog:

This has been a very emotional time for those of us who love Galveston. While the media tends to focus on the devastation – there is also much progress being made daily.

I have this update to share… Apparently, our Oct. 15 reopening date for our hotels was too optimistic. Currently, the Hotel Galvez  has electricity, water and elevator service and a full restoration is underway. The hotel plans to welcome guests in early November. The Tremont House sustained relatively minor damage from Hurricane Ike but the restoration process is expected to continue until early 2009. Lastly, Harbor House also sustained relatively minor damage but the hotel will not be available to the public until early 2009. The hotel is currently housing those assisting in the island’s restoration efforts.

Since, Christine works for the Mitchell Historic Properties folks, and was my original source of the information about the October 15th date, I was glad to see her updated report.  Glad, and of course, very, very sad.

Much discussion will now need to take place among the group of us who have made Galveston Island our Victorian home away from home the first weekend in December for so many years.  I am currently trying to verify that the Dickens on the Strand event will indeed be happening, as I previously reported.  It does not require much imagination to think that if the Mitchell properties folks underestimated their recovery time, others, including the Historical Foundation itself, may have done the same.

One, poignant article, describes the personal, heart-wrenching devastation that many returned “home” to find:

http://galvestondailynews.com/story.lasso?ewcd=87706a0e04b5856c

On a positive note, it seems that some Galveston public schools will be re-opening on the 6th of October.  Life, for some, at least, will begin to return to something resembling normal.

~MB

Old Bricks Wednesday, Sep 17 2008 

Old Bricks

17 September 2008

This photo is of the side of our house in Arlington.  The bricks look old and worn, but not nearly so abused as most of the bricks in Galveston, Texas.  We continue to send our healing thoughts and prayers to folks in the Houston/Galveston area as they attempt to get their lives back on track after Hurricane Ike.  The Daily KRuMB continues to see an elevated number of hits each day, due to our Google ranking on searches about Ike and Galveston.   I thought it might be a good idea to include the text from the Houston Chronicle article that Starr found a couple of days ago.  This remains the most recent news we have about our beloved island and its Historical Landmarks.  What follows is quoted: 

Some 7,000 documented historic buildings are located on Galveston, an island that served as a gateway to Texas in the state’s early days. Of those, it is estimated as many as 1,500 of the structures sustained serious damage during Hurricane Ike.

An early assessment by the Galveston Historical Foundation shows the following conditions at historic sites.

U.S. CUSTOM HOUSE: Built in 1861, this structure serves as the headquarters for the Galveston Historical Foundation. It was flooded by as much as 8 feet of water, which damaged files, archives and equipment. An upstairs door is damaged. Roof damage, if any, is unknown.

 ASHTON VILLA: This 1859 Italianate mansion lost two to three windows on its second floor and had up to 18 inches of flooding that likely caused extensive first-floor furniture damage.

 BISHOP’S PALACE: This home, also known as the 1889 Gresham House, is the most visited historic building in Galveston. It appears to have sustained little damage, as was the case in the catastrophic 1900 hurricane. The home had as much as 3 feet of flooding on its bottom floor, which is slightly below ground level and is used for a ticket counter and offices. That floor is under renovation to become a visitors center.

 THE ELISSA: The famous 1877 tall ship, restored in 1982 by the foundation, lost several sails but otherwise seemed to ride out the hurricane well. The vessel is attached to the shore through large steel pipes driven into the harbor bottom.

TEXAS SEAPORT MUSEUM AT PIER 22: This is Elissa’s home berth. It suffered damage to the brick and wooden pier, with a suspected total loss to the wooden workshops used for maintenance of the ship. The museum itself, in the 1990 Jones Building, suffered little damage.

 THE SANTA MARIA: This 1937 restored wooden shrimp boat fared well in her slip near the Texas Seaport Museum with only minor damage.

 MICHEL B. MENARD HOUSE: Built in 1838, the city’s oldest residential house sustained little visible damage.

SAMUEL MAY WILLIAMS HOUSE: Constructed in 1839 and one of the oldest residential houses on the island, it appeared to sustain little damage.

 GARTEN VEREIN: An 1880 German dancing pavilion in Kempner Park managed by the foundation, Garten Verein appears to be undamaged.

 ST. JOSEPH’S CHURCH BUILDING: The state’s oldest German Catholic church building, the wooden St. Joseph’s building was built in 1859. It closed as a church in 1968. The building lost one window but otherwise appears undamaged.

 HISTORICAL FOUNDATION WAREHOUSE: This warehouse on Mechanic Street was inundated with at least 10 feet of water and sustained extensive damage. Much of its contents was destroyed, including equipment used during Dickens on the Strand, the popular holiday festival.

 GALVESTON COUNTY HISTORICAL MUSEUM: Housed in the 1921 City National Bank Building, the museum is a joint project of the historical foundation and the Galveston County Commissioners Court. A floodwater line can be seen below the entrance to the first floor. Unless there is roof damage, the building is believed to be unharmed.

 Source: Galveston Historical Foundation.

End quote.

As you can see, the condition of the Tremont House Hotel, and the fate of the 2008 Dickens on the Strand Festival remain unknown.  

~MB

Addendum:  News Update on Historic Galveston.  Special thanks to Donna who found this:  http://www.click2houston.com/video/17485318/index.html

Frank Billingsley of Houston’s Channel 2, hosts a Walking Tour of Galveston Island, including visits to many of our well-loved landmarks.  It takes about thirty minutes to view the whole thing, but it’s well worth the time.  One small segment includes a quick interview with a representative from the Tremont who seems very positive about getting things back up and running—but no time frame is given.  He said the hotel damage is pretty much limited to the ground floor and a few windows.  One restaurant owner indicated his repairs and rebuilding would take “months.”  Of course, there isn’t much going on yet, in the way of clean-up and repair, because there is no power and no water.  Fisherman’s Wharf (our Saturday night dinner spot for many years), Rudy and Paco’s (our new favourite restaurant on the island), Willy G’s (our Sunday night dinner spot), and many, many other places we know well, all have extensive water and mud damage.  Furniture is tossed about like matchsticks.  Walls are already molding in the humidity, and first floors will probably need to be gutted completely.  Fisherman’s Wharf’s harborside deck seems to be completely destroyed (remember the spot where Clay stood to take our photo on the Elissa a few years ago?).   High water marks on the Strand are at about nine feet; on Post Office at about six feet, and on Broadway at about three feet.  Pretty much every retailer, every business for that matter,  in the area will have lost nearly everything they didn’t move to a spot higher than that.  The property damage is mind-boggling.  And, at this point, at least until services are restored, and work crews can begin, there’s no telling how long the recovery efforts will take.  So, still no certainty about Dickens on the Strand.  And, if there is a festival, where people will eat, shop, sleep, etc.

We’ll keep our Daily KruMB readers as updated as we are on all this.