a VirtualTourist member from Chesterfield
We are visiting Texas from the UK next April. Any tips on whether or not Galveston will be up and running by then? It was to be our last port of call for some "chilling" but after Ike we are unsure what to do
Be sure to follow http://www.galveston.com/default.asp - the City's official tourism website. Note their statement on one of the links:
"While park board members try to figure out how they can fix their damaged buildings, officials from the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau are trying to encourage tourists to come back to the island as soon as possible.
Showing pictures of historic properties and Moody Gardens, tourism promoters said the majority of the island’s tourism attractions suffered minimal damage."
See galvestondailynews.com/story... (this is the link from "Only 2 isle parks expected to be open by spring" on the previous page).
Go and have fun!
There are already alot of hotels/restaurants back open. And I've heard Moody Gardens is open as well. You will have a fun time walking/biking on the seawall and visit the Strand as well, good shopping and bars. Hopefully back to "somewhat" normal by April. Definately check galveston.com for updates.
I know one of the owners of the businesses in Galveston (Ocean Oso's). They will be back up and running by then.
The city manager was quoted in the Dallas Morning News this morning that it will be as much as 2 years before all the effects of the hurricane are cleaned up. There are certainly tons of debris lining the roads all over town, and on the mainland north of Galveston, there are warning signs flashing "Beware of Cows" - this is not a Larsen cartoon, but a warning that since many of the fences are down, that cows are just wandering wherever.
However, as I noted earlier, the old part of Galveston which is the part that tourists would want to visit anyway, suffered less damage because the storm surge did not come over the seawall (even though there was plenty of flooding). For example, the Tremont House website (this is one of the more upscale hotels on the island, at the end of the Strand on the backside of the old part of the island) says "Tremont House sustained relatively minor damage from Hurricane Ike, but the restoration process is expected to continue until early 2009. "
Just before the hurricane hit, we were seeing videos from the Strand, showing 3 to 4 feet of water in the street (and therefore nearly that much in the stores along the Strand), so the Tremont House likely had water on the first floor. But because there was no storm surge here, the damage was limited to ruined carpeting, damaged sheetrock (or whatever they have on their walls), furniture to be replaced, wiring to be checked, and whatever damage the wind may have caused (probably not much)...obviously stuff that can be fixed in relatively short order.
In any case, power is up to most buildings, and the biggest remaining problem is lack of sanitary sewer facilities for a lot of homes (probably the ones on the unprotected west side of the island). But only 400 people are still living in shelters, because most everyone else has moved home, or is staying in a local hotel (or with friends) while they clean out their houses.
It's sort of like after Katrina - it seemed ghoulish to want to visit New Orleans after Katrina, but, frankly, the city's economy depends on tourism...ditto with Galveston...they need the tourists to come and spend money, so you can bet that the tourist facilities were some of the first things brought back online.
Every fall in late October/early November, they have a giant biker rally in Galveston - literally hundreds of thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts of all types (it's quite a sight(!)). Last year, the Texas Department of Transportation estimated that some 486,000 people showed up!!! (not bad for an island of some 60,000).
This year, they have delayed the Lone Star Rally about 5-6 weeks to December 11-14, in order to be sure that the island is ready for everyone...well, if they think they'll be ready for nearly half a million people by mid-December, you can be sure that they'll be ready for you next April ;-)