Mobile Morgue Heading to Galveston

Submitted by SadInAmerica on Mon, 09/15/2008 - 2:07pm.

Search teams have reported five deaths thus far after covering 90 percent of Galveston Island, but thousands of homes remain to be searched and a refrigerated mobile morgue is on its way, a city spokeswoman said today.

Searchers have accounted for 1,500 survivors thus far as they go house to house. Nearly 150 structures have collapsed across the island as a result of Hurricane Ike's assault, spokeswoman Alicia Cahill said.

The numbers are expected to rise as the waters recede and searchers are able to cover more areas, she said. Search teams also were being sent to the Bolivar Peninsula for the first time.

Health conditions continue to deteriorate on the hard-hit island, and officials from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are assessing the situation.

One of the survivors found by a search team had suffered an estimated 1,000 mosquito bites and was flown to a hospital on the mainland, Cahill said.

Eleven people were rescued from the Flagship Hotel, which is built on piers in front of the city's protective seawall, she said. Police today were ordering them out of the building, which will be closed because of problems with the piers.

Crews have searched all buildings that are known to have collapsed, and have not found any more bodies, Cahill said.

Among the buildings falling victim to the storm is City Hall, where the roof was severely damaged and floodwaters were about a foot deep inside, Cahill said.

She said city officials hope to return to City Hall within two weeks. City staff members are at the San Luis Hotel and officials are working at the Galveston County Justice Center, where the police station, jail and courthouse are located.

Water was restored to hotels shortly before midnight Sunday. City officials were hoping to restore water to the central core of the city today.

Natural gas has not been restored because the pipeline supplying the island has been severely damaged.

The basement of the Rosenberg Library also is flooded, raising fears that historic documents could be damaged. So far, no one has been able to enter the building.

The Anico Insurance building, the tallest structure on the island, sustained severe water damage and the parking lot remains flooded and must be pumped out. Anico is one of the nation's largest insurance companies.

The walls of the cruise ship terminal were ripped out by the hurricane and federal dive teams are arriving to survey damage to the harbor, Cahill said.

Dozens of tankers are stacking up at the entrance to the Ship Channel, awaiting a chance to get into the ports of Galveston and Houston.

City officials are talking with Carnival Cruise Lines about using a cruise ship for emergency housing.

Meanwhile, officials are warning people to stay out of the beach water because it is contaminated with chemicals and biological runoff. They also are assessing the damage to the beaches.

"Erosion, of course, is a large concern," Cahill said.

The hurricane caused a total power failure on the island, Cahill said, and city electric company workers need to repair almost every aspect of the power system, including downed poles, wires and connections.

She said 11 looters have been arrested and police are ticketing violators of the 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew.

The city is putting out the word that residents can pick up ice and water at the Island Community Center and the Academy Sports and Outdoors parking lot.

HARVEY RICE - September 15, 2008 - source HoustonChronicle

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Submitted by SadInAmerica on Mon, 09/15/2008 - 2:07pm.

Comments

Anonymous (not verified) | Thu, 09/18/2008 - 11:56pm

Mandatory evacuation orders were not issued because it was too late to evacuate the island per Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas.

Find a lawyer (not verified) | Mon, 09/15/2008 - 7:06pm

It's unfortunate that every single time a natural disaster is known to be approaching, a certain percentage of people refuse to obey mandatory evacuation orders. The inevitable result is that the government has to spend millions and rescue workers have to risk their lives to find these people afterwards. In my humble opinion, mandatory evacuation orders need to have real consequences if disobeyed or this will happen every single time. Nick from Avvo