It was five years ago today. Hurricane Ike slammed into Galveston, causing $25 billion worth of damage. Former Galveston Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas told KTRH she thought they were ready for what Ike had in store.
“What we didn’t anticipate was the surge tide from the north side of the island to the Port of Houston,” Thomas said.
But Thomas also says the damage could have been a lot worse.
“We had a lot of destruction but it would have been substantially more destruction had we not had the seawall,” Thomas stated.
That was five years ago. Today, Galveston is almost all the way back. Current Mayor Lewis Rosen says by all measures, things look good.
“Real estate sales overall for the first eight months of 2013 has increased $47 million,” Rosen said.
And the people have been coming back as well.
Rosen said, “We don’t have the exact number of folks that have come back. It’ll be seven years before we get another census. But I feel like our population is back and growing strong.”
Paul Schultz of the Galveston Hotel and Lodging Association says visitors to the island can't believe what they see now.
“To this day I still hear people that come to our hotels, how positive they that Galveston has never looked better,” Schultz said.
Schultz said in the days and months after the storm competitors helped each other out.
“We had hotels that their laundry was down. Other hotels would offer to do the laundry for their competitors. We’d help with equipment. If equipment was down we would share,” Schultz explained.
Galveston made $55.3 million in hotel revenue last summer and had its best summer tourism season on record.