Why did some houses remain standing in Galveston?

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DanKellFla
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Why did some houses remain standing in Galveston?

#1 Postby DanKellFla » Mon Sep 15, 2008 9:53 pm

Was there some new building code? I see pictures where a house is standing wheras all the surrounding houses are gone. Do the construction techniques differ that much?

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Re: Why did some houses remain standing in Galveston?

#2 Postby HurricaneQueen » Mon Sep 15, 2008 10:10 pm

I don't pretend to know anything about the building codes but the house of which you speak is most likely the one in Gilchrist. It was build to be "hurricane proof" and apparently lived up to its purposes. As some pointed out in the Ike discussion thread, although the house is standing, there is no way to be sure it is one the right lot! There is quite a bit of information about it in the above mentioned thread including several different pictures taken from different viewpoints. Also, there is a link to the Bolivar Chamber of Commerce brochures (pre Ike) showing the home in its original setting.

Hope this helps.

Lynn

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#3 Postby DanKellFla » Tue Sep 16, 2008 6:33 am

It is not just a house. It is the pictures where there is a house surrounded by empty lots, than another house some distance away surrounded by empty lots.... etl...
I'll try to find a link.

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Re: Why did some houses remain standing in Galveston?

#4 Postby Shoshana » Tue Sep 16, 2008 8:37 am

Here's a link - it's picture 11

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Re: Why did some houses remain standing in Galveston?

#5 Postby alicia83 » Tue Sep 16, 2008 1:40 pm

DanKellFla wrote:Was there some new building code? I see pictures where a house is standing wheras all the surrounding houses are gone. Do the construction techniques differ that much?


Yes, there are newer building codes in place. Some of the older homes were closer to the ground, and in some cases there were living areas on the ground floor, homes that had been grandfathered to not have to be in compliance with the code. The older structures in coastal communities were the hardest hit, and in many cases have been lost completely. A portion of the building codes deals with the thickness of the pilings and minimal height, but I am unable to provide specifics.

To answer your question which I think concerns Bolivar Peninsula, there were many, many older structures over there, plus that area received a storm surge around 23 feet. Little is going to stand in that instance.

Despite new building codes, there were new front row homes that were completely destroyed in various locations. There are just no guarantees of anything when it comes to hurricane winds and storm surge. Regardless, front row homes in most cases are either gone or now owned by the state of Texas.

Texas has an open beach law which stipulates homes be built behind the vegetation line, and grants the public access to all beaches. Even if a home survived in tact with minimal damage, and that home is now in front of the vegetation line, it no longer belongs to the owner, and must be removed as it is in violation of the open beaches law. It's a risk people in Texas take who want to build at the beach.

I'd heard from KHOU TV in Houston that in the past, there was some laxity in enforcement of the law, but that it will likely not continue.

I have a relative who lived at Jamaica Beach on the third row. It was an older structure, and I have my doubts it is still standing. Prior to Hurricane Alicia, it had been a 4th row home, and moved up to the third row. If it still standing, it's likely to now be legally front row or perhaps second row.

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Re: Why did some houses remain standing in Galveston?

#6 Postby baygirl_1 » Tue Sep 16, 2008 4:52 pm

Please note that pictures can be very deceiving. My family had a house on the west end of Dauphin Island for twenty years (we had to rebuild it 4 times!). When we saw pictures of the house after Hurricane Frederic, it was from the street and it appeared the house had made it through well. However, when my brother-in-law managed to get over there, he discovered that the front (side away from the street) was completely gone-- gnawed away by the storm surge and waves. Some houses appeared okay, but when you looked closer you noticed the pilings were leaning or the house was tilted on the pilings. Houses on barrier islands are just so vulnerable. Thank goodness we no longer have the house on Dauphin Island. It's beautiful there, but we just couldn't take the stress!

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#7 Postby DanKellFla » Thu Sep 18, 2008 1:27 pm


Ed Mahmoud

Re:

#8 Postby Ed Mahmoud » Thu Sep 18, 2008 1:34 pm



They lost their palm trees, and they'll need to rebuild the front stairs. But they should have lots of solitude for a while before people start building again around them.

Image

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Re: Why did some houses remain standing in Galveston?

#9 Postby Shoshana » Thu Sep 18, 2008 1:53 pm

Looking at all the pictures I have seen of this house I have a feeling it's going to take more than rebuilding the stairs.

In bigger pictures you can tell that some of the windows are gone (The half circle on the top floor for instance) and they'll need a new roof. That plus the time it takes them to get out there to start says water/mold.

But the bigger problem is the foundation - it looks like the sand under it has washed away in places ... no telling what's going on there with pipes (water, gas and sewer) and support for the foundation itself.

All in all though, it did fare better than all the rest of the houses.

I wonder how they will determine the vegetation line when all the vegetation seems to have been scoured off? (You can only build behind the vegetation line in Texas coastal areas. If the vegetation retreats, the houses can't be rebuilt)

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Re: Why did some houses remain standing in Galveston?

#10 Postby Normandy » Thu Sep 18, 2008 10:40 pm

The house is still a total loss. It got some airtime on CNN, and when they went inside the house the inside was completely wrecked by the flood waters.

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#11 Postby DanKellFla » Fri Sep 19, 2008 7:45 am

There was some mention about the laws that Alicia83 brought up in the news today. Now comes the years of legal arguments defining the vegatation lines and what the insurance companies really insured.

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#12 Postby mf_dolphin » Fri Sep 19, 2008 9:54 am

Actually this Texas law has been on the books since 1959. From the looks of things there are a lot of people that aren't going to be able to rebuild. Apparently there was a fund that gave home owners 50,000.00 when there home was taken but there seems to be questions as to whether that fund is still available.

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Re: Why did some houses remain standing in Galveston?

#13 Postby Shoshana » Fri Sep 19, 2008 10:37 am

It's the 1959 Open Beaches Act.

Basically it was written so all Texas beaches are open to everyone - so developers etc can't buy up beachfront property and put in houses with a private beach.

From what I can tell, it takes a year to determine where the new vegetation line is - the beach has to go thru 4 seasons. In the cases where the house is destroyed totally, homeowner's insurance will pay for the destroyed house. If the house is still standing and not totaled then the homeowner has a problem because if it's now on the beach, they just lose it without getting any money (if that fund is empty). It's on paperwork when you buy a beach house - on title paperwork, loan paperwork etc so it shouldn't be a surprise.

Ed Mahmoud

Re: Why did some houses remain standing in Galveston?

#14 Postby Ed Mahmoud » Fri Sep 19, 2008 11:41 am

My wife's grandfathers trailer got moved around by Ike some, and knocked into their utility building, and the deck fell over some, but it looks like it survived. It is the cream colored one that doesn't look badly damaged in this CNN video.


Maybe "Popo" (that is what we call my wife's grandfather, or "Way-Low") and I will be doing tequila shots at Jamaica Beach again next Summer.

http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/weather/2008/09/15/vo.tx.ike.trailer.park.ktrk?iref=videosearch

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#15 Postby DanKellFla » Fri Sep 19, 2008 1:11 pm

The lonely house.....




http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/09/18/ike.la ... index.html


Their house survived Ike, but it's the only one left
Story Highlights
Couple's house is only one left standing in section of Gilchrist, Texas

Hurricane Ike flattened most of town's 200-some homes

Columns hold couple's house 14 feet above ground

Couple had lost a house to Hurricane Rita three years ago

By Jason Hanna
CNN

(CNN) -- Warren and Pam Adams lost a house to Hurricane Rita in 2005, so it seems they'd be relieved to learn their new home withstood Hurricane Ike.

But not when their house is the only one still standing in their section of Gilchrist, Texas.

Ike's storm surge last week devastated the Bolivar Peninsula town, flattening most of the roughly 200 homes there. The couple's yellow house at the beach -- supported 14 feet off the ground by wooden columns -- was the only house on Gilchrist's Gulf Coast side not to be flattened.

"As we got there, the tears started flowing," Warren Adams, 63, said Thursday after his first visit to the home since evacuating. "There's a yellow house sitting there, but that's all. It was devastating."

Although the house is there, it might not continue to stand. Huge storm surges walloped the interior, making it uninhabitable and destroying many belongings.

Appliances, furniture, and a grandfather clock were some of the many things rendered useless. Warren and Pam, two of the beach town's several hundred permanent residents before Ike, spent part of Thursday salvaging what they could and lamenting the destruction of their friends' homes. Watch homeowner say house may not be salvageable »

"It looked like somebody had dropped a bomb," Warren Adams said. "If my house wasn't there, I wouldn't have been able to recognize where I was even at."

The Adams home hadn't been the only one on stilts. In fact, columns elevated many of Gilchrist's houses, but some houses were only a few feet off the ground, Warren Adams said.

The survival of the couple' house, where they started living in April of last year, caused a stir on the Internet. Helicopter pilot Ray Asgar shot some photos of the house from the air and submitted them to CNN's iReport.com. Some who wrote comments about the photos questioned whether they were authentic. iReport.com: See photos, comments

Aaron Reed, a spokesman with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, confirmed that only the Adams' home survived on that Gulf-side beach.

"I thought, if I were to ever build a house on the coast, I'm going to contact the guy who built this," Reed said.

He also said a few other houses on the other side of town were still standing.

Adams said many of Gilchrist's homes were built before current building codes, and weren't elevated or not elevated nearly as high as his.

The couple owned one of those older houses -- on the same lot where their new home now stands. Hurricane Rita destroyed the older one three years ago.

Determined to stay because they loved the beach, the couple decided to build something that stood a much better chance of withstanding a strong hurricane.

Adams, a retired electrical designer, had a Galveston, Texas, engineering firm oversee a contractor as his new house was built.

The columns put the house's bottom floor 14 feet above ground, or about 22 feet above sea level. Despite that, Ike's storm surge managed to get in.

"Can we always beat Mother Nature? No," Adams said. "Mother Nature can be much stronger."

Adams said roughly $300,000 was spent on the house -- the original house payment was $180,000, then he did add-ons/improvements totaling $115,000. And yes, they are insured.

Adams said he and his wife almost waited too long to leave the house last week. They boarded the windows and went to bed on the night of September 11 thinking they'd rise at 5:30 a.m. to evacuate.

But he said that shortly after midnight -- more than 24 hours before Ike's center would make landfall -- the effects of the storm were hitting. He awoke to see Pam, 53, out on the deck, crying.

"I said, 'What's wrong?' She said, 'Water is coming up on the road,' " he recalled.

So they left at 3:20 a.m. -- not a moment too soon, said Pam Adams' sister, Judy Hudspeth. Watch sister talk about what Pam, Warren Adams have been through »

Hudspeth, who spoke with Pam, said the couple encountered a sheriff's officer as they left the peninsula.

"[Pam] said, 'I almost waited too long,' and the officer told them, 'Yes, ma'am, you did. You're really lucky, and you need to get out,'" Hudspeth, who lives in Richmond, Texas, recalled.

The couple and their two dogs are staying with friends and relatives, and they could get a rental house, Warren Adams said. But ultimately they'd like to return to Gilchrist if the county will allow people to rebuild there.

"I know there's a chance you'll face hurricanes, but that's the chance you take," Adams said.

Adams, who has battled cancer, said he hopes he doesn't have to wait long for the government's decision.

"If we can rebuild, a lot of people will rebuild," he said. "If we can't, tell us that we can't. The sooner we can get this behind us, the better."

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Re: Why did some houses remain standing in Galveston?

#16 Postby lonelymike » Fri Sep 19, 2008 7:36 pm

:roll: Why in the world would anyone build near the coast?

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Re: Why did some houses remain standing in Galveston?

#17 Postby Ed Mahmoud » Fri Sep 19, 2008 8:07 pm

lonelymike wrote::roll: Why in the world would anyone build near the coast?



For one thing, when it is 35º in Houston, it might only be 30º at the beach. Great place for the American tradition of BBQ. Water is nice and warm, and we often surf fish. We didn't usually sleep over, but my in-laws and my wife's grandparents sometimes did. Fresh salt air, pelicans, palm trees.


Anyway, my wife's grandfather's trailer doesn't look too bad from the air, but it probably had salt water inside. Not sure if it can be salvaged.


And Texas isn't like Florida. A hurricane like that does not happen every year. I see this house was a replacement for a house lost during Hurricane Rita, but the last big storm to hit Galveston was 25 years ago.

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#18 Postby Dionne » Thu Sep 25, 2008 7:35 am

The home was obviously well engineered. As we learned from Katrina......there are weather situations that will destroy the best buildings. This home had everything done correctly.......and beach erosion finished the job. Beautiful home. Very unfortunate for the owners.

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Re: Why did some houses remain standing in Galveston?

#19 Postby somethingfunny » Thu Sep 25, 2008 11:03 am

Question: How did their first home manage to get wiped out by Hurricane Rita, if Gilchrist is located over by Galveston Bay on Rita's WEST side?

Ed Mahmoud

Re: Why did some houses remain standing in Galveston?

#20 Postby Ed Mahmoud » Thu Sep 25, 2008 11:18 am

somethingfunny wrote:Question: How did their first home manage to get wiped out by Hurricane Rita, if Gilchrist is located over by Galveston Bay on Rita's WEST side?


From personal observation and looking at NWS HGX reports, despite the center of Ike passing w/i about 10 miles of my house, and Rita landfalling in Lousiana, winds near where I live where almost as strong from Rita as they were from Ike, and their pre-Rita home was not hurricane resistant, as they hired a contractor to build them a more hurricane resistant house, to prevent a reoccurence.

Bolivar looks like it had ballpark 4 to 5 feet of surge, but wave action on top of that could have done damage, and wind gusts were strong enough to damage more poorly built structures.

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