Life After Hurricane Ike: For Birders the News Isn't Good
Looks like Ike tore things up pretty good. I've been reading online reports from local news sources because for those of us who live in the so-called "Golden Triangle" the national news channels are worthless. The only places on the Gulf Coast that receive decent coverage from them are New Orleans, Houston, and Galveston. Even when a storm doesn't directly impact those cities they still get the lion's share of the coverage. We saw this during Hurricane Rita, when the big news channels focused their attention on the evacuation of Houston and additional damage to the New Orleans levees. The areas that were totally devastated by the storm - Southwest Louisiana and Southeast Texas - were barely mentioned.
Hurricane Rita was more destructive to Southeast Texas and neighboring Louisiana, but its path was narrower. Hurricane Ike, on the other hand, was the bowling ball that took down all the pins. Galveston took a direct hit, and from the reports that I've seen it looks like the city is a mess. The entire region is largely without power, and services are only slowly being restored, mostly to the less impacted areas. Financial losses from this storm will be staggering - Houston is the fourth largest city in the U.S., and it has practically been shut down.
In a disaster like this birding may be the furthest thing from most people's minds, but it's worth noting that birders will be dealing with the ramifications of this storm for a long time to come.
The Bolivar Peninsula took an awful beating. In Crystal Beach whole subdivisions are gone. Gilchrist is gone. An officer said that he didn't even recognize Rollover Pass. One woman described Highway 87 as "a sandbar with a stripe down the middle." High Island, a favorite birding destination, is located at the start of the peninsula. Poor High Island! First Rita, then Humberto, and now Ike. More storms like this and there won't be any woods left at the Boy Scout Woods. Smith Oaks will have to have it's name shortened to just "Smith." Recent reports have Sabine Pass still under flood waters, so it's safe to assume that the TOS Sabine Woods Sanctuary was also flooded. Because of its exposed location it's also sure to have suffered heavy wind damage.
The sanctuaries could all use donations, and, more importantly, volunteers to help with the cleanup. Soon as I get the debris cleared from our own yard that's what I'll be doing.