PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Local News

September 13, 2013

5 years after Ike slammed coast, rebuilding of lives, communities continue

Watching people take their daily exercise along the seawall while vessels from far-flung places pass through Port Arthur ‘s ship channel is something Deloris “Bobbie” Prince has done much of her life.

Yet, five years ago when Port Arthur’s mayor drove down Lakeshore Drive and saw people gathered on the seawall, she was alarmed — enough so to get out of her car and plead with those who had come to get a first glimpse of Hurricane to leave, to evacuate and get out of harm’s way.

Tides were rising, and winds howling, signaling Ike and its great tidal surge was on its way with Port Arthur dead in its sight.

“We had to get people out or they would be stuck here in Port Arthur,” Prince said.

She was right. Hurricane Ike made landfall in the early morning hours of Sept. 13, 2008, with torrential rains and a tidal surge as high as 12 feet in some parts of Southeast Texas.

Prince remembers the storm rolling in that night, where she was bunkered down at a Lumberton school with other officials from the area.

“All night long you could hear the double door clanging,” she said. “The wind was so strong it had broken the chain. Up above us you could hear, like a train, it was a most disturbing feeling. It was terrible.”

As frightening as the storm’s passing was, it did not make her feel as bad as when she returned to Port Arthur and witnessed the storm’s devastation.

Though the city sustained millions of dollars in damages, the levee had held, and the storm surge did not get as high as feared in Port Arthur.

Other areas were much harder hit.

The coastal community Sabine Pass was nearly destroyed as was Pleasure Island, Bridge City, parts of Orange, Hamshire-Fannett and nearby Bolivar Peninsula.

Ike, while it devastated much of the region, spared Nederland, Port Neches and Groves, all of which saw minimal damage compared to other areas.

Five years later, the recovery effort is still ongoing. Though much has been accomplished, there is still much to do.

“I’ve seen a lot of improvements since Hurricane Ike, but when an area suffers destruction at that magnitude, it takes years to recover,” Prince said.

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