Friday, October 10, 2008

Galveston Island State Park

I can't remember the first time I visited Galveston Island State Park, but I suspect it was when my kids were very little. I do remember that we visited before Hurricane Alicia in 1983. I'm pretty sure we stayed there in our van camper. The first time we went, I remember thinking how tall the dunes were, you could not see the beach or waves from the camping and picnic areas. However, I vividly remember going back to Galveston Island State Park after Hurricane Alicia. The storm had swept all the dunes away. There was a beautiful view of the waves and beach from the campground! The dunes were totally gone! That was amazing to me at the time and something I didn't forget.

When I was thinking about the "before" pictures I wanted to take, Galveston Island State Park was high on the list because I did remember what Alicia had done. Unfortunately, we had been running the air conditioner in the car as we drove from the east side of the island to the park on the West End. My camera lenses kept fogging up, giving these photos a dreamy look. It may be appropriate . . . Hurricane Ike did a lot more damage than Alicia!

When I got to the park the morning before Ike, it was already closed. Maintenance workers were emptying trash and cleaning up. I ducked under the barricades and walked over to get my photos. You can see the shelters on the right.

Here is a closer view of one of the shelters. Note how high the dunes are behind them. You certainly can't see the water. However, when you look at the photos after Ike, there is not only a clear view, the shelters have been badly damaged.

There were two dune fences used to help keep the dunes in place - one on either side. The dunes were covered with vegetation that also helps keep dunes from shifting and being washed away. The flowers were blooming, it was a pretty sight.

I walked over to the walkway over the dunes. You can see part of the dune fence.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife department has posted photos of Galveston Island State Park after Ike.

Here are some of the ones that really give you a good idea of what this powerful storm did:

The "new" beach

Damaged shelters

The new view

Debris piles

More debris

The bathhouse

This park is close enough to the Houston metropolitan area, that hopefully it will be rebuilt . . . but for now the the official Galveston Island State park site says the park is closed until further notice. According to the October 1st Texas Parks and Wildlife Press release most of the state parks affected by Hurricane Ike are back up and running. Obviously, Sea Rim and Galveston Island sustained severe damage. It will take longer to rebuild. I've also heard that Sea Rim may not open back up as a state park become a state wildlife area instead. That makes me sad . . . I hope that the state will find the funds to rebuild the facilities at Galveston Island State Park. We need our state parks!

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