Hurricane Ike hit 9 years ago; Frank Billingsley takes a look back

By Frank Billingsley - Chief Meteorologist

HOUSTON - KPRC2 Chief Meteorologist Frank Billingsley takes a look back at Hurricane Ike 9 years ago:

Hurricane Ike slammed the Texas shore on this day nine years ago, officially right around 2:15 a.m., into Galveston's East End whipping 105-110mph winds and producing an unforgettable storm surge that decimated the Bolivar Peninsula.

While 12 to 14 feet were common high water reports, the tide rose as high as 21 feet at Eagle's Pass in Galveston Bay. What I recall most about the ubiquitous flooding is that it began so early. We witnessed Highway 87 on Bolivar and 3005 in Galveston already knee deep in water by 9 a.m. the day before Ike even got here (strong testament to evacuating early!). Eighty percent of the homes on Bolivar Peninsula simply disappeared.

The storm moved slowly into Galveston Bay and its north winds blocked the island's drainage system while sending a second surge across Harborside Drive and jettisoning the West End. Water rose to 9 feet inside Fisherman's Wharf on the bay, 7 feet inside the Post Office restaurants. The water at the 1894 Grand Opera House literally made a stage appearance. Mud was everywhere. Massive damage took out UTMB, the Lone Star Flight Museum, the Elissa and the Galveston County Courthouse. I remember wondering if it could really all come back and being so amazed when it did.

PHOTOS: Remembering Hurricane Ike

While the waters inundated the island, Bolivar and anywhere around the bay, inland the winds grabbed shingles, roofs, fences, trees, power lines and poles. Hundreds of thousands of our viewers went "lights out" even before the storm made shore and would stay that way for more than a month. Those winds took off part of the Reliant Stadium (NRG) roof and a tornado would damage the Chase Building downtown.

I would end up taking a helicopter to the skies to show just what had become of Bolivar and Galveston. We spent hours in the air showing people LIVE just what had become of their homes on the West End. Reality television in its purest form.

But we survived. All this damage and destruction came upon us just as the country's financial system collapsed into a heaping mess itself and if we expected the cavalry to ride in and save us we soon learned that wasn't going to happen. I think that's perhaps when so many of us learned we had to count on each other for help. And that we could. A philosophy and spirit that we mastered the past month as Harvey brought his own battle to our lives.

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