Thursday, October 2, 2008

Another side of Hurricane Ike

We've all seen a lot of pictures of the devastation to homes and businesses caused by Hurricane Ike. As a biologist, I see that damage and more. Here are some of the pictures you won't see on the news.

Many trees were still standing after the storm, but inundation by salt water killed them where they stood. The only plants that survived were native dune and marsh grasses.

The dunes on Galveston Island were badly eroded, but in some places with robust dunes, the vegetation held enough of the sand in place to prevent massive erosion. The beaches are ragged but still standing (and so are the building behind them). Beaches in front of the seawall had no vegetation to guard against erosion, and those beaches eroded and are now underwater.

Bread makers are generally not found on the beach.

Mardi Gras beads were strung over mangroves. Many mangroves survived, but the salt water inundation was hard on them too. Many are displaying salt burn like terrestrial plants.

Ok, this picture has been on the news, but it was too striking to pass by. I think it was Murdoch's souvenir shop. It is now a bird roost.

Our recycling center. Where am I supposed to take my plastics now?

The TAMUG campus had relatively minor wind damage and didn't flood. We even got internet back yesterday (but no phones yet, so don't call me). Because the Galveston city infrastructure is in such bad shape, classes have been relocated to College Station for the rest of the semester. Research goes on for now in a modified fashion (nothing stops the science!), and we expect to be fully operational again by January.