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Historic Expeditions


Hurricane Ike made landfall in Galveston, TX on Saturday, September 13, 2008 as a Category 2 wind storm with a Category 4 storm surge of 14 feet.

Sanctuary staff members G.P. Schmahl and Emma Hickerson were able to return to the island on Monday, the 15th, and began photo documenting what they found. Other photos were taken as more of the staff returned and cleanup continued.

Fortunately, the sanctuary offices were intact and all of the staff were safe.

To learn more about hurricane impacts to coral reefs, visit our Hurricanes page. For specific information on Hurricane Ike's impacts on the coral reefs of the sanctuary, visit our Post-Ike Reef Assessment page.

Click on any picture below to see a larger, hi-resolution image. All images should be credited to FGBNMS.

First Impressions - September 15, 2008

Following a tractor trailor down the highway.  Piles of debris line both sides of the highway.  Less traveled highway lanes still have a layer of dried mud on them.
Following a tractor trailer to Galveston just 2 days after Hurricane Ike.
Broken buildings and scattered debris in Galveston alongside the highway after Hurricane Ike
This was once a bait camp and marina at the base of the Galveston Causeway.
A large sailboat and oher boats on land next to a damaged building.  People standing next to the sailboat are smaller than the keel.
A large sailboat and several other vessels were deposited on land near the marina at the base of the Galveston Causeway.
Two large boats smashed together against a concrete barrier alongside the highway entering Galveston.
Seems that some boats fared better than others when tossed onto the highway by the storm surge.
A large boat sitting upright alongside the highway in Galveston
The sheer size of this boat sitting upright alongside the highway demonstrates the force of the water moving around during Hurricane Ike.
The shell of a wooden building on pilings in the Gulf just off the seawall in Galveston
Not much left of the 3 wooden buildings on piers that once jutted out into the Gulf. The concrete Flagship Hotel remains in the background.
The bare skeleton of a wood structure up on pilings.  This was once a gift shop on the seawall.
The skeletal remains of Murdoch's Bath House, a former gift shop on the Seawall.
Nothing but the remnants of wooden pilings sticking out of the surf along the seawall
This was the Balinese Room, a night club dating back to the time of Prohibition.
The mission style building that hosts the sanctuary offices showed almost no damage following the storm
Sanctuary offices received a fresh coat of paint as well as new windows, doors, and roof in the months preceding the storm. A small portico was also added to the west entrance. All survived the onslaught.
An oblong building with a domed metal frame where the roof used to be.  The canvas was torn away by the storm.
The Aquacell, located adjacent to sanctuary headquarters, used to have a canvas roof. Now it's an open air facility.
A bayside restaurant with a large shrimp boat sitting upright in the parking lot out front
A large shrimp boat from a nearby marina ended up resting in the parking lot of Willie G's. It's usually more common to see boats behind the restaurant!
A small crane mounted on the back deck of the Manta is used to swing the gangway into place between the boat the the pier.  A banner with the NOAA logo and R/V Manta on it hangs from the side of the gangway.
The small marina behind Willie G's. The Manta dedication took place in June 2008 on the concrete pier where the photographer stood to take this photo.
The R/V Manta afloat with storm damage outlined along the length of the hull just above the water line
The R/V Manta sustained damage just above the water line during the storm. The damaged area is outlined in tape.
A view of Strand Street in the historic district of Galveston shows mud-strewn streets.
The storm surge deposited lots of mud and debris throughout the Strand district of Galveston.
A dirt laden street with piles of debris.  A large truck is being filled with debris from nearby storage units.
Removal efforts just couldn't keep up with people cleaning out their storage units near Harborside Drive in the Strand District. Dried mud makes this look like a dirt road.
Small barrels, equipment and tables inside a water-damaged storage unit.  The flood line is visible six feet up the wall.
A look inside the sanctuary storage unit shows the water reached about 6 feet high. Historic sanctuary samples and some equipment were salvaged.

Cleanup Begins

Seven men take a break alongside/on a pile of drywall they helped remove from a house
One NOAA! A demolition crew from NOAA Office of Law Enforcement takes a break outside Emma's house after helping remove drywall.
Three people stand alongside a debris pile in front of a Galveston home
Bill Kiene, G.P. Schmahl and Emma Hickerson stand by the growing debris pile they've created in front of Emma's house.

(clockwise from left) Marissa Nuttall, Sarah Fangman, G.P. Schmahl, Ginny Schmahl, Billy Causey and Bill Kiene take a much deserved break after working on staff homes. Sarah and Billy came from the Southeast Regional Offices of National Marine Sanctuaries to help with recovery efforts.

weather report observations cool stuff get wet

Juvenile blue tang (fish).  Bright yellow body with irridescent blue marking around eye and at top edge of dorsal fin.
National Marine Sanctuary logo - a stylized whale tail above waves