Not Everything in its Path

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Title: Not Everything in its Path Confusion and Coping on the Bolivar Penninsula after Hurricane Ike
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Barnes, Mary
Publisher: New College of Florida
Place of Publication: Sarasota, Fla.
Creation Date: 2010
Publication Date: 2010


Subjects / Keywords: Hurricane Ike
Disaster Anthropology
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Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation


Abstract: This is an ethnographic study of the social effects of Hurricane Ike (2008) on Gilchrist and Crystal Beach, two communities on the Bolivar Peninsula, a strip of land near Galveston, TX. Using community member�s experiences, I examine the ways in which their recovery efforts were complicated by disputes with insurance agencies and engagement with the media. I then discuss some of the coping mechanisms that residents employed, including reestablishing community groups, using online communication tools, comparing Hurricane Ike to the Hurricane Katrina, verbally affirming their resilience, and reflecting on the importance of place and material belongings. I found that, nine months after the storm, peninsula residents were well on their way to making a textbook recovery, although with a few significant changes to how the community operated.
Statement of Responsibility: by Mary Barnes
Thesis: Thesis (B.A.) -- New College of Florida, 2010
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The New College of Florida, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Local: Faculty Sponsor: Dean, Erin

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Source Institution: New College of Florida
Holding Location: New College of Florida
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: local - S.T. 2010 B25
System ID: NCFE004206:00001

Permanent Link:

Material Information

Title: Not Everything in its Path Confusion and Coping on the Bolivar Penninsula after Hurricane Ike
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Barnes, Mary
Publisher: New College of Florida
Place of Publication: Sarasota, Fla.
Creation Date: 2010
Publication Date: 2010


Subjects / Keywords: Hurricane Ike
Disaster Anthropology
Media Coverage
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation


Abstract: This is an ethnographic study of the social effects of Hurricane Ike (2008) on Gilchrist and Crystal Beach, two communities on the Bolivar Peninsula, a strip of land near Galveston, TX. Using community member�s experiences, I examine the ways in which their recovery efforts were complicated by disputes with insurance agencies and engagement with the media. I then discuss some of the coping mechanisms that residents employed, including reestablishing community groups, using online communication tools, comparing Hurricane Ike to the Hurricane Katrina, verbally affirming their resilience, and reflecting on the importance of place and material belongings. I found that, nine months after the storm, peninsula residents were well on their way to making a textbook recovery, although with a few significant changes to how the community operated.
Statement of Responsibility: by Mary Barnes
Thesis: Thesis (B.A.) -- New College of Florida, 2010
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The New College of Florida, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Local: Faculty Sponsor: Dean, Erin

Record Information

Source Institution: New College of Florida
Holding Location: New College of Florida
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: local - S.T. 2010 B25
System ID: NCFE004206:00001

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NOT EVERYTHING IN ITS PATH: CONFUSION AND COPING ON THE BOLIVAR PENINSULA AFTER HURRICANE IKE BY MARY BARNES A Thesis Submitted to the Division of Social Sciences New College of Florida in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the de gree Bachelor of Arts Under the Sponsorship of Dr. Erin Dean Sarasota, Florida May, 2010


ii For Gussie


iii ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The people of Bolivar Peninsula, for your tolerance, resilience an d positive attitudes The Beach Bum Painters, for teaching me to paint, inviting me back, and being open about your lives. Mom and Dad, for rebuilding the beach house, supporting me throughout this project, and proofreading my work. Er in, for being pat ient, accessible, and optimistic Thank you for giving me deadlines! U zi, for guiding me through my New College career. Maria for challenging me in a positive way Grandma for telling me about the history of the peninsula. Christopher for caring a bout what I do Terry, for keeping me updated. Mitchell, for always being available to talk Shanna, Dane, and Hannah, for welcoming me into the amoeba. Sarah, for being my personal SWA. Essie and Allegra, for making me laugh. Taylor, for the effort you put into editing my work.


iv TABLE OF CONTENTS DEDICATI ON ii ACKNOWLEDGEMEN T S iii TABLE OF CONTENTS iv LIST OF ILLUSTRATION S v ABSTRACT vi INTRODUCTION 1 ONE : Background: Bolivar Peninsula 10 TWO: Background: Hurricane Ike 2 4 T HREE: Methodology: Writing Up a Storm 4 5 FOUR: Confusion: The Insurance Disaster 5 3 FIVE: Confusion: The Media 6 9 SIX: Coping: A Tale of Resilience 9 1 CONCLUSION : The Importance of Place and Belonging(s) 1 1 0 APPENDIX: Recovery Timeline 1 20 WORKS CIT ED AND CONSULTED 1 3 2


v LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS Figure 1 : Maps of Bolivar Peninsula 11 Figure 2 : Photos of Destruction 25 Figure 3 : Before and After Aerial View 26 Figure 4 : Recovery Timeline 27 Figure 5 : Advertisement for Community Meeting 36 Figure 6 : Before and After of My House 47 Figure 7 85 Figure 8 : Photos of the Reclamation of Space 11 7


vi NOT EVERYTHING IN ITS PATH : CONFUSION AND COPING ON THE BOLIVAR PENINSULA AFTER HURRICANE IK E Mary Barnes New College of Florida, 2010 ABSTRACT This is an ethnographic study of the social effects of Hurricane Ike (2008) on Gilchrist and Crystal Beach, two communities on the Bolivar Peninsula, a strip of land near Galveston, TX. Using com I examine the ways in which their recovery efforts were complicated by disputes with insurance agencies and engagement with the media. I then discuss some of the coping mechanisms that residents employed, including reestablishi ng community groups, us ing online communication tools, comparing Hurricane Ike to the Hurricane Katrina, verbally affirming their resilience, and reflecting on the importance of place and material belo ngings. I found that, nine months after the storm, peni nsula residents were well on their wa y to making a textbook recovery, although with a few significant changes to how the community operated. ___________________________ Dr. Erin Dean Division of Social Sciences


1 INTRODUCTION Hurricane Ike struck t he Bolivar Peninsula, Texas on September 13 th 2008, leaving its four communities in various states of ruin. Over the summer of 2009 I attended several community meetings, ranging from information sessions at the courthouse to small painting, gardening a nd quilting clubs I met most of my interviewees, twenty five in total, at these meetings. Because I was unsure of what I might discover over the course of my fieldwork, I decided to use p seudonyms throughout the the sis. A lthough I am critical of my inform ants, I also admire them and I wrote this thesis with the intention of sharing it with the peninsula community. Overall, it explo res strategies peninsula residents us ed to manage these confusions As such, I hope it serves as both a record and an interpretation of the peninsula recovery process Disaster Anthropology The ideas in this thesis draw heavily on eld of both anthropology and disaster studies that examines the entirety of the disaster cycle with a specific focus on social and cultural effects and responses. The field of d isaster studies which arose in the aftermath of World War 2 with research int o human behavior during and after bombardment, generally focuses on the political, econo mi c and policy related aspects of disaster events. The first anthropologica l contributions to the field beginning in the 1960s, coincided with the rising popularity of topics such as sociocultural change, political ecology, and the increasing vulnerability of traditional anthropological subjects (Oliver Smith and Hoffman 200 2: 5). Today,


2 Anthropologists continue s, human (Oliver Smith 1999c: 22). Disaster anthropology seems to have been solidified as an area of research with the publication of Anthony Oliver s co edited volumes The Angry Earth (1999) and Catastrophe and Culture (2002). Combined, Oliver Smith and Hoffman who both theorized disaster (Hoffman 1999a, 1999c, 2002; Oliver Smith 1999a, 1999c, 2002; Oliver Smith and Hoffman 2002) and carried out fiel dwork in disaster stricken communities (Hoffman 1999b, 1999c; Oliver Smith 1999b), have produced a large portion of the recent anthropological scholarship on disasters solidifying its legitimacy Other anthropologists have taken interest in highly publici zed disasters, such as the Bhopal incident (Rajan 2002), Chernobyl (Stephens 2002), the Exxon Valdez oil spill (Dyer 2002), and Hurricane Katrina (Lipsitz 2006; Masquelier 2006; Morgan et. al. 2006; Paredes 2006; Petterson et. al. 2006). Still others have become unexpected disaster (Breunlin and Regis 2006; Ethridge 2006). For a comprehensive overview of the sub dy which outlines understanding s of disaster vulnerability, conceptions of risk, individual and social response and coping strategies, is not justified solely on an academic basis many applied disaster anthropologists use their research to


3 inform disaster planning and recovery policies (Ol iver Smith and Hoffman 2002: 5). That said, anthropologists also argue that disasters are useful to study because they expose the usually obscured ways in which culture and society function. Expanding on this idea, Oliver Smith and Hoffman contend that dis and altruism and self T he realization of t can be traced engender not merely reflection, thought, and emotional responses; they force the human group to ta alludes to the fact that disasters are also catalysts for societal and cultural change; there is not necessarily a return to the status quo. Because of their varied causes and effects, there is no conse nsus on how to def ine disaster w ithin the research community Oliver Smith tackles this topic in his essay and material understand and address the interactions of this set of interrelated systems, producing a her words, natural disasters are socially embedded events that occur when society fails to protect against environmental hazards The distinction between hazard and disaster is important: h azards exist objectively, but disaster events are experienced subje ctively. This implies that, w hile we cannot prevent hazardous events from occurring, we can lessen their impact on


4 human activity effectively preventing them from becoming disasters (Wright and Rossi 1981: 46). For Oliver Smith, the distinction between ha zard and disaster also suggests that ). He attempts to theorize this hybrid space by investigating what disasters can teach us about the mutuality of nature and culture. In Western society have not only a right to dip into, but also a right to alter and otherwise dominate in any ine with this view, members of Western societies perceive a fundamental division between nature and culture and define corrective effort, Oli ver Smith attempts to redeem nature by disclosing eep sociocultural and political combined effects of financial and social inequality, inappropriate forms of natural resource exploitation, a vulnerability and incidence of disaster in the modern world (33 36). Oliver expression, their emergence from human environment mu tuality, and their cultural frozen into the dichotomy between the natural and soci As such, disasters allow us to reconceptualize the nature culture divide by bringing


5 Similarly, division between nature and cultur only categorized so by certain people. All human endeavor takes place on a physical plane, and in all too numerous ways that physical plane converges into what people have distinguished as the cultural continuously confusing their tidy arrangement. In the face of Again, this thesis was deeply influenced by the work of Oliver Smith and Hoffman and, a lthough I do not return t o this topic until the conclusion, I believe that Hurricane Ike recovery, on both the societal and individual level, was r ooted in attempts to reinstate a comfortable division b etween nature and culture Not Everything in its Path Despite what the muddl ing of nature and culture might reveal to researchers, it caused considerable confusion and consternation amongst Bolivar residents. Anthony to day social life tends to become sep contact with events and situations which link the individual lifespan to broad issues of morality and f Hurricane Ike, and disasters in general, qualify as such events For the time being, they peel back a layer of their ontological security, making them more aware of danger and life. Ike force d individuals to reflect on their material possessions, relationships, communities and environments and to make unexpected life decisions. In short, Ike was confusing.


6 T his confusion was heightened by the fact that the storm in its Some people returned to virtually unscathed homes, but many returned to nothing more than a concrete slab. Others discovered an inexplicable trail of their material belongings across the peninsula. Opal, who lost her home, illustrated her confusion by describing the was just sitting right off the slab there. The TV set was in the people next found my mixer and the remote to the TV, can you believe!? The remote to the TV, that sitting on the slab scientific sense of the stor m helped residents come to terms with their losses but ultimately, they accept ed that there would be no explaining exactly how or why Hurricane Ike ripped across the peninsula. Hurricane Ike confused not only the physical landscape, but also the communit ies, social structures, and psyches of its victims, to varying degrees. As opposed to when they were talking about the physical destruction, people were less articulate at describi ng their psychological destruction and confusion. Similarly, Kai Erikson, so ciologist and author of the landmark disaster study Everything in Its Path writes that the survivors of the Buffalo Creek Flood, who were reaction to it, [did] not really know how to express what thei r separation from the familiar tissues of home [had] Opal described it as having her brain sucked out Ike sucked her community out to sea and her brain washed away with it. This thesis focuses on how the residents of the Bolivar P eninsula responded to and c oped with the myriad confusions physical and mental, environmental and


7 cultural of Hurricane Ike. homage to Erikson and because it emphas izes that Ike was not uniform, e ither in the physical destruction it wrought or in its effects on people s psyches. In an effort to understand how Ike affected the peninsula, I use words and actions to examine the personal and social coping that occurred alongside more straigh tforward recovery and rebuilding efforts. The first three chapters introduce provide the context for my findings Chapter O ne introduces the geography, history, and culture of the Bolivar Peninsula Chapter T wo describes Hurricane Ike, its destruction, a nd the Chapter T hree explains my methodology. Chapters Four and F ive present some of the further torm generated. Specifically, Chapter F the term I use to ref er t Agency (TWIA) Debating with the agency prompted residents to seek out scientific Switching gea rs, Cha pter F outlets. I argue that having to present themselves to the media made them more aware of the importance of the peninsula community and its image Overall, d ealing with TWIA a nd the media prompted residents to assert their ownership over Ike and defend their definition of disaster, victimization, [and] need (Hoffman 1999c: 148). Chapter S ix begins with a brief description of the ways in which residents used communication to ols and co mmunity groups in order to cope. It then explains


8 independence after Hurricane Ike. Also, throughout Chapters Five and S ix, residents draw comparison s between themselves and the poor, black survivors of Hurricane Katrina. Using these comparisons, I show how Katrina influenced Bolivar residents understandings of themselves and their ow n recovery efforts. At the end of Chapter Six I address the racism that is prevalent within this phenomenon. an explanation of the calamity. They overlay old ideologies and explanations with revisions. They arrive once again at a construct of identity and formulate a picture of their occurred as residents recognized the importance of place, landscape and material belongings and the memories they asso ciat ed with them. Returning to the topic of nature and culture, the conclusion also explains how residents modified their environment to control nat ure during the recovery process. On the whole, t his thesis does not confront the findings of established disast er anthropologists or construct new theories about disaster Rather, I hope that it accurately and anthropologically documents the residents of the Bolivar Peninsula, the challenges and confusions they faced, and the coping strategies they employed in the wake of Hurricane Ike while also dialoging with previous disaster studies.


9 VOICES (1) You came down here and it was very social (before Ike). As soon as you pulled up, the neighbor was walking across the street and introducing themselves and within a short amount of time you knew everybody in the neighborhood. And there was always e and I don't know if it was because of the group of people that kind of built this place. In my mind, and I've said this to my wife and I've said this to other people, I don't look for that atmosphere to return here and that's a fear of mine. Allen Hardegree imagine anything ever coming back to the norm. Or, I knew in my head if it did, that it would take year s for that, to try to rebuild and put it all back together knowing that we were the only house out here...It just seemed like the impossible to come back down here and start over again. Clayton Letellier


10 CHAPTER ONE CONTEXT: BOLIVAR PENINSULA Bolivar Peninsula is a thin, 27 mile long strip of land in Galveston County, Texas lying roughly three miles to the east of Galveston Island and connected to the southwest corner of Chambers County. Arguably a very precarious place to live, it functions a s a barrier island, protecting the East Bay, and ranges from only a fourth of a mile to a half of a mile wide. There are four communities on the peninsula, each with a distinctive character. At the far west lies Port Bolivar, an aging, working class town i nsulated on the bay side of the peninsula. About ten miles from Port Bolivar and the ferry landing is Crystal Beach, a laid back vacation and retiree community that serves as the social hub of the peninsula. Another six miles down the road is Gilchrist, a smaller, older community that was a popular vacation destination in the 50s and 60s. High Island, a residential community, so named because it sits on a salt dome at an elevation of fifteen feet, is situated at the far eastern end of the peninsula. For th e most part, my project focuses on residents of Crystal Beach and Gilchrist. The peninsula is accessible by two routes: a free, public ferry from Galveston and on Highway 124 which runs from Interstate 10 to High Island, where it meets up with Highway 87, the only major road through Gilchrist and Crystal Beach. Over the mainland, these access points are a two hour drive from each other. This relative isolation has kept the peninsula less developed than most coastal tourist destinations.


1 1 Figure 1: Maps of Bolivar Peninsula. The first map shows the peninsula (area in the red box) in relation to the Houston Galveston Beaumont area. The next two, meant to be viewed side by side, show the peninsula in detail. (Sources: Mapquest, and the Bolivar Peninsula Chamber of Commerce at .)


12 The penin sula also remained re latively undeveloped because of The Coastal financial involvement associated with building and development in undeveloped portions of designated coastal ( Federal Emergency Management Agency ). In the early 1980s, the federal government used aerial photos to decide on coastal properties that had al program that may have the effects of encouraging development disaster loans and grants. Also, any structures National Floo d Insurance Program (NFIP) Anthropologists Philip Berke and Thomas Campanella point out that, in the past, the federal government has supported risk reduction and risk sharing rather than risk avoidance. Risk reductio n refers to federally funded projects such as seawalls and beach renourishment that justify increased development in hazardous areas. Risk sharing refers to generous disaster relief payments that also encourage high risk development. On the other hand, ris k avoidance refers to policies that discourage development in hazardous areas in the first place (2006: 195 6). While Bolivar had certainly benefited from beach re nourishment programs and relief aid, COBRA had successfully discouraged development on the pe ninsula althoug h there was still ample space to build in the non COBRA zones. A ll undeveloped swaths of land on the peninsula were either part of a COBRA zone or the property of the Audubon Society.


13 The only exceptions we re The Biscayne and Rancho Caribe, two upscale gated housing developments recently built in COBRA zones outside of Crystal Beach. As of the 2000 census, there were 5,425 housing units on the peninsula, 3,624 of which served as rental properties or vacation/seasonal homes. The remaining 1 ,801 units housed 3,853 people and 1,138 families. In addition to the homes, most of which were mobile homes or modestly sized beach cabins built on pilings, there were several businesses: a full mall hardware stores, ten restaurants, two bars, a bank, four gas stations, a number of tourist and bait shops, three small water parks, three motels, at least four real estate companies, an insurance agent, a doctor, a lawyer, homebuilders, and many other small businesses. Additionally, there were twelve churches, four volunteer fire departments, a chamber of commerce, a local monthly newspaper, four post offices, a county building that housed ce, two schools, a small art museum, several bird sanctuaries, four parks with playgrounds, a fairground, and several community groups. There were no chain stores or fast food restaurants, a perk to most residents, who tended to enjoy a quiet, slow lifesty le. characterized by muddy waters, small waves, brown sand, and skimpy dunes. They varied in width but averaged about 100 yards. Seaweed often built up along the shoreline and in som e areas the county scraped it back into the dunes, which were usually built up with bales of hay and old Christmas trees. Looking out over the water, one could see several offshore oil platforms, shrimpers trawling the gulf, and large freighters waiting


14 th beaches are not the prettiest, the residents appreciated them nonetheless. The Texas Open law right to free and unrestricted access to all Texas beaches. Most residents were very proud of this law and liked to cite it, especially when drawing comparisons between their beaches and commercialized, private beaches in Florida and California. Not o nly were all alcoholic beverages, activities that were prohibited on many other beaches, were allowed. beaches ended up littered with trash, lacked public amenities such as showers, and had flattened dunes. As such, some residents expressed interest in keeping cars off the beach. On weekdays and in the winter before Ike, the beaches were quiet and sparsely populated. Some stretches of the coast hardly saw visitors at all. On summer weekends, groups of people, usually families, parked their cars or golf carts at comfortable intervals along the beach. People sat and chatted in lawn chairs, fished, played hors eshoes and Frisbee, went beachcombing, and made short forays into the water while kids built Beach, drew a younger crowd that liked to party. Morning and night, they lined t heir cars up like sardines along both the dune and water sides of the beach. On Labor Day and impossible to find a place to park.


15 Although Crystal Beach had incorporated in the past, at the time of the storm none of the communities on the peninsula were cities. As such, the area was under the jurisdiction of Galveston County and its most immediate representative w as the county commissioner for Precinct O ne, which encompass ed the entire peninsula and the east end headed step there was no sewer system or garbage pick u p program. The Bolivar Peninsula Special Utilities District (BPSUD) consisted of eleven elected community members, was generally considered the most important decision making body in the area. Most B olivar residents actually felt more connected to Chambers County than to Galveston. This makes sense not only because they were geographically connected to Chambers County, but also because many retirees and visitors to the peninsula were originally from t Port Arthur, and Orange. The beach towns of Gilchrist and Crystal Beach were originally known as places where working class people from the triangle could afford to vacation and retire, wh ile Galveston Island beach homes were considered the provenance of wealthy Houstonians. Although this was still largely true at the time of the storm, larger, more expensive housing developments were starting to pop up in Crystal Beach. Many wealthier resi dents dollars and county support to the area, but others feared that high dollar developments would ruin the laid back atmosphere of the peninsula by forcing those with less money to


16 move aw ay. Exacerbating this trend, the county adopted new, stricter building codes in 2001. Starting at this time, all new homes were required to have breakaway walls on the bottom floor and be elevated 17 feet above sea level, among other restrictions. These re strictions, while making the area safer, have also made it much more expensive to prefabricated houses that could be placed on pilings and covered by a single insurance policy. Also, C rystal Beach, which experienced a building boom after Hurricane Carla severely damaged Gilchrist in 1961, was continuing to grow in popularity as a tourist destination for people from the Houston area, a change that many residents attribute to crowded cond itions, parking fees, and rules on the Galveston beaches. I identified four types of people that functioned as part of the peninsula communities: retiree residents, lifetime and working residents, vacation homeowners, and frequent visitors and renters. For reasons of feasibility, I decided to focus on residents, both retiree and lifetime who decided to return In the second category there were a few well known, long time resident families on the peninsula that dated to the days of cattle ranching, waterme lon farming, intensive oil drilling, and bustling activity at Port Bolivar. When these activities died down in the early 20 th century, t he peninsula became a difficult place to make a living and raise a family In the words of lifetime resident Dallas Brig htwell, T a lot of opportunities. You fish or crab or you build houses. You own your own business. You work for the county or the school about it


17 our nsus data is reported together, making it impossible for me to quantify the populations, age and racial makeup, and median income for the people of Crystal Beach and Gilchrist. That said, according to the 2000 census for the entire penin sula 93.7% of residents were white, the median income was $34,235, and the median age was 48.5, with 21.6% over 65 (United States Census Bureau 2000). From my experiences in each of the communities, I would guess that the full time populations of Gilchri st and Crystal Beach were somewhat older and wealthier than those of Port Bolivar and High Island. Also, most people resided in and visited these communities by choice, usually in order to escape from the drudgery of work and/or city life. Many people foun d the area attractive because of the fishing opportunities at Rollover Pass, a manmade cut connecting the gulf to the bay at Gilchrist, and in the Intracoastal Canal, which runs along the north side of the peninsula, providing boaters with access to the gu lf. Others enjoyed the opportunity to go birding and shelling the fresh seafood, and the simple peace and quiet. Surprisingly few residents regularly visited the beach claiming that it lost its charm over time : get used to. It gets in your d. get over where somebody can help you. (Iva Corrao ) Despite its small size and fairly homogenous appearance, class distinctions certainly existed on the peninsula. Crystal Beach resid ents felt superior to Gilchrist


18 whispers about dysfunctional families in Port Bolivar. Because of these distinctions and the individual character of each of the towns I struggled with whether or not it was appropriate to refer to the peninsula as a single community. Mr. Brightwell, who grew up in Gilchrist and High Island, explained that Yo and the things you go through wi thin those elements make for a bond, a or fishing team or whatever it is? Gilchrist wants to be better than Cry stal There are just little stops around the way. After discussing the issue with several residents, I decided to refer to the peninsula as a single community throughout my thesis Not only do people refer to themselves as part of the peninsula community, the county and state governments do as well. As in most communities, some people were more active than others. With a fishing club, cultural foundation, AARP group, quilting club art group, exercise group, gardening club, outreach group, chamber of commerce, volunteer fire department, community associations, school groups, several churches, and events like the annual Crab Festival and Christmas and Mardi Gras parades, there was p lenty to get involved with and, since many people were part of several of these groups, there were plenty of chances to gossip. A different group of people frequente d the live bands that played almo st every weekend at the restaurants and bars. Not everyone knew each other, but it seemed like alm ost everyone was connected in an interwoven social network.


19 With the exception of a few new arrivals, the people of Bolivar were accustomed to dealing with tropical storms and hurricanes. The area regularly flooded during severe storms, though water never entered the houses. Most residents had a fairly standardized evacuation plan, including what they brought with them, where they went, and how they secured their homes. These activities represent adaptations to the hazards that the gulf coast environment posed a topic disaster anthropologists frequently analyze. Adaptations serve to mitigate vulnerability Oliver Smith and Hoffman explain that nt does not infrastructure, sociopolitical organization, production and dist ribution systems, and Smith 2002: 27). Anthropologists Robert Bolin and Lois Stanford examine vulnerabi lity and coping variety of material and social assets, including finances, information, social support networks, income opportunities, legal rights, and political pow peninsula, most residents benefitted from their financial assets and social support networks, but felt that they had little political power and that they received stilted information. Also, some people felt that their legal rights we re in jeopardy in regards to insurance problems.


20 The communities on the Bolivar Peninsula, compared to larger Texas coastal communities, were especially vulnerable to Ike because they were small, unincorporated, and located on a thin peninsula that acted a s a barrier island. There was no artificial protection such as a sea wall, many houses were older and did not conform to current building codes, and the area was equipped with a poor water drainage system. My informants, who often compared themselves to Ga lveston, made it clear that the governmental representation and services, infrastructure, and geography. As Bolin and Stanford suggest, individual vulnerability, was further in monetary resources and ability to navigate the regulations surrounding recovery, as well as the quality, location, and insurance coverage of their businesses and houses and the amount of support offered by friends and family. Olive r Smith expands on how the wealthy mitigate their vulnerability: I n general, environmental security is a premium enjoyed predominantly by the beneficiaries of the social relations of production and distribution, but there is not always a perfect relationsh ip. Cultural values can distort the relationship, convincing the wealthy that it is safe to live on hurricane coasts and on fault lines with spectacular views. Even then, superior engineering, generally only available to the well off, reduces that vulnerab ility significantly. Insurance also buffers loss and induces people to occupy risky places (2002: 36, my emphasis). This quote aptly explains the situation in Crystal Beach and Gilchrist, where the residents were, in comparison to most disaster victims, financially w ell off Their decision to live by the coast made them vulnerable to tropical storms, a n acceptable risk that was promoted by personal appreciation of the area as well as cultural values that encouraged residing near the coast Th e peninsula p rovided a sought after escape: a slow lifestyle, a


21 small town feel, proximity to the beach, a close knit group of friends. For residents these satisfactions outweighed any danger. Many of them rested easy, knowing that having their house built to code an d adequate insurance reduce d their v ul ne ra bi l i t y Everyone was aware that a devastating hurricane had the potential to affect them, but no one lived their life in constant expectation of it. Hurricane Alicia in 1983 and Hurricane Carla in 1961 were the last truly devastating storms to affect the area and people drew many comparisons between them and Ike. In 2005, Hurricane Rita, which struck the Texas Louisiana border, caused a small storm surge and some damage on the peninsula. In 2007, a C ategory 1 hurricane, Hum berto, made landfall over High Island causing widespread flooding and destroying dozens of homes. Tropical Storm Edouard drenched the peninsula in August 2008 and Hurricane Gustav threatened the area a week before Ike, though it did not amount to anything. Many people evacuated for these storms, and those who evacuated for Gustav had barely returned home before Ike became imminent. Anthropologists T amar Liebes and Menahem Blondheim describe disasters as moments when 190). Likewise, r esidents used these storms as chronological markers for the history o f the area, which helped them organize their memories. Rusell Dynes, a political scientist, ave compared disasters to a drama which facilitates emotional identification. Such events become important in the collective memories of a community and provide major refer ence points by which other events


22 interviews: You know my husband is from Ft. Worth and he's never been through hurricanes, storms like this. When he met my parents and all, he brought around a hurricane. And since Katrina, Rita, Ike, that's what makes me in perspective, so I do it too. (Marcie Buttrey) In the summer of 2009, Hurricane Ike had already become the most important historical marker for the r es id ent s of t he peninsula. One resi I don't think that I'll ever get to where I don't associate ev erything pre I mean, people are still talking about the 1900 storm. We're gonna be talking about this for a while; (Marcie Buttrey). The following chapters elaborate on why Hurricane Ike was such an important event for the communities of Crystal Beach and Gilchrist and demonstrate h ow it con st ru ct ed residents histor ie s


23 VOICES (2) I thin k the hardest thing is that there's no compassion from outside of this area and inside the area everybody is on pins and needles. I see people and say hello and they just start ing back what's gone. It's gone. Christa Pelt When you lose you r neighborhood and sitting in front even want to see it. Iva Corrao One of the things that I've noticed long term was that people's personalities kind of if my hamburger wasn't right, like maybe it had p ickles on it and I didn't want pickles, for example, I just let something like that go before. But, now I'm very short tempered and I just don't put up with much inconvenience. Allen Hardegree


24 CHAPTER TWO CONTEXT: HURRICANE IKE Hurricane Ike made land fall over the east end of Galveston Island, TX on the morning of September 13, 2008 at 2:10 am. Although in term s of wind speed Ike was only a C ategory 2, it was the largest storm ever observed in the Atlantic basin, had a storm surge equivalent to a C ateg ory 5, and was the third most destructive storm to hit the United States. Bolivar Peninsula bore the brunt of the powerful right front quadrant of the storm, sustaining a storm surge of 20 feet and winds of 109 mph (National Climatic Data Center 2009). The peninsula was covered with 10 feet of water, not including wave and then sucked it back out, was easily its most destructive element and even prompted meteorologists t o revise the Saffir Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. storm and, as of Summer 2009, four others were still listed as missing by the Laura Recovery Center, a small non profit that helped locate and reconnect residents Throughout Texas there were an additional sixty six deaths indirectly caused by the storm (Berg 2009: 9). Most peninsula residents believed that significantly more people died than were reported. According to a FEMA survey, n early 61 percent of the homes were destro yed and essentially all of the p displaced A member of the water board quantified the damage for me: m. We had 6,200 plus before the storm. So we lost over 4,000 houses. Bad. According to Entergy there were 1,344 standing


25 In Gilchrist, only three homes out of four hundred survived. Needless to say, water, electric ity and telephone services were out for several weeks, if not months, and no businesses were able to reopen without significant repairs. Figure 2: Photos taken in October 2008, four months after Hurricane Ike made landfall. The photos represent Crystal Beach, Gilchrist and Port Bolivar. (Photos by author )


26 A nyone who witnessed the d amage after the storm firsthand would tell you tha t these statistics and pictures do not do it justice. How residents must have felt upon seeing their community is beyond my comprehension, and seems to be beyond their own as well When explaining their first reactions to the damage, many people could only say physical destruction wrought by the storm, much less the psychological and social effects of the storm. Below I sketch a general picture of the immediate rest or ation and longer term recovery, both of which took place at individual, community, and societal levels. Despite the almost unfathomable destruction, recovery efforts started immediately. The following page offers an at glance view of the local reco very and restoration process. Figure 3: A before and after aerial view of a typical neighborhood in Crystal Beach. The six rows of houses closest to the beach are almost completely destroyed. Also note the loss of greenery. (Source: Google Maps)


Figure 4 : T his timeline offers presents a smattering of the events on the peninsula that contributed to recovery. This information was t aken from a more extensive timeline published by a peninsula resident a nd included here as an appendix (Timeline created by author) September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 10/10/08: Applicati ons for FEMA housing open 10/4/08: County starts assessing damages to individual properties. 9/15/08: Mandatory Evacuati on ordered. 9/18/08: efforts are complete. 10/30/09: County debris removal begins; electricity is available. 10/3/08: Water available in most areas; plans ann ounced to fix ferry and bridge. PENINSULA RECOVERY TIMELINE 9 /13/08: Ike makes landfall at 2:10 am. 9/14/08: place 9/26/08: Look and Leave begins. 5,000 visit. 10/12/09: Most churches are holding services in their lots. 10/5/08: The Tiki Bar and Coconuts are serving free, hot meals. 10/20/08: Curfew extend ed to 6:00am 6:00pm 11/26/08: Two way traffic restored at Rollover. 11/10/08: Vacate order lifted; ferry reopens. 11/14/09: The POD closes; more polic e presence.


28 As the above timeline 1 indicates, the residents and property owners were at the mercy of the government and utility companies throughout much of the recovery process. Not surprisingly, t here was some tension be tween these entities could accomplish. uch of the process involved waiting, either for debris removal, a loan or grant, a building permit from the county, a contractor to finish a job a school t o reopen, a trailer to arrive, or a check from FEMA or an insurance company. For people anxious to get back in their homes and return to normalcy, this was a difficult process. Combined with the expense of rebuilding, this meant that many of the poorer fam ilies and elderly were unable to return. In many ways, hurricane recovery is a never ending process on the peninsula. Again, Mr. Brightwell relates his experience with past hurricanes: To get it back and going, it just takes years after something like this not an overnight thing. I know hurricane Carla was in 1961 and Ike was in Gilchrist that were not rebuilt. There are things here that will never be rebuilt, there will be people that will never come back. There will be It happens every hurricane. Not a new thing. want to construct a general outline of the storm and recovery experience, focusing on those who were able and willing to return. I intersperse this outline with anthropological stages of disaster recovery, as they are indentified by Hoffman (1999c : 1 4 ). In short, I describe the basics of confusion and coping after Hurricane Ike on an individual level. 1 See the appendix for a more in depth to these activities. timeline


29 As late as Wednesday night, Ike was predicted to make landfall 100 miles south of Galveston. Needless to say, people were constantly checking the weather forecast, as they do any time there is a stor m in the gulf. But to most Crystal Beach and Gilchrist residents, the warning other storm and they took no extra precautions. Many people left as early as Tuesday or Wednesday, some convinc ed by loved ones that, to be on the safe side, they should come up for a visit. They packed like they did during any evacuation: a few family memorabilia items, jewelry, insurance papers, and a couple changes of clothes. Others planned to leave Thursday, w aking that morning to a rapidly rising gulf. Several people attribute their decision to evacuate to this unusually high water. Indeed, Thursday morning the storm turned towards Galveston and officials ordered a mandatory evacuation. The BPSUD shut off all water at 5pm and the last ferry off the peninsula left at 11pm that night. Then, sometime early Friday morning, Highway 87 flooded, preventing people from leaving the peninsula. A few stragglers were able to make it to High Island in the back of a large tr uck or by foot and others were rescued from the local school by Coast Guard helicopters. Still others braved Ike on the peninsula, some by necessity and others by choice. Once off the peninsula, everyone headed north, usually to a relative or e, but sometimes to a hotel, where they settled in to watch the news until the power cut out. In most disaster situations, there is a short period of extreme individuation in which, faced with dissolved social form and fabric, people fend for themselves ( Hoffman 1999c: 137). Although evacuation was in many ways a routine procedure, it paralleled


30 this stage in that people were concerned with saving themselves, their families, and their possessions. When it became apparent that Ike had done considerable dama ge to the No body I spoke to was completely sure why, but immediately after Ike hit, Texas governor Rick Perry ordered a med ia blackout over the entire peninsula. People speculated that there were dead bodies scattered about and that the damage was horrendous. Those who had evacuated were left in the dark as to what had happened to their community. During this time, the state a nd federal government began working to make the peninsula safe and accessible for residents to return and conducted search and rescue operations. At this point, evacu ated residents quickly entered the second phase of response to disaster, which was charac terized by intense solidarity (138). R esidents made either safety and whereabouts and embarking on a shared quest for information about the peninsula. Technically savvy re sidents established multiple informational websites that assured visitors Despite their efforts, the media blackout encouraged a quick ascent of lications and discord Also, because the vast majority of residents were safe and prov ided for, the solidarity phase quickly gave way to concern s for private property. The media blackout was lifted three days after the storm, although reports and pictures from people who survived the storm or discretely entered the area via boat


31 circulated almost immediately. Soon after, NOAA posted satellite images of the entire peninsula, allowing people to locate and make a preliminary assessment of their property. Residents were not allowed to return until September 26 th and then only on a look and lea ve basis. This rule was instated because Ike had littered Highway 87 with sand and debris and destroyed the westbound lane of the bridge at Rollover Pass. The ferry landings were also inoperable, leaving only one lane for use into and out of Crystal Beach, Port Bolivar, and portions of Gilchrist. In an effort to prevent gawkers and looters, everyone was stopped at Rollover and required to show proof of property ownership on the peninsula during the look and leave. People were allowed in between 6a.m. and 2p .m. and had to be out by 6p.m. So I got out here and the DPS were guarding the bridge. I mean, it was like a war zone, I kid you not. The whole bridge was guarded by troopers with guns. And the reason that they were having to do it is looters. Looters were parking on the Intracoastal and walking up on the peninsula and people would take things back in their arms There was nobody to know if it was their things they were taking or your things they were taking. But they were really trying to guard it ( Annabelle Brumbelow) On November 10 th the ferry resumed operations, residents were officially allowed to move b ack, and the peninsula was opened to the public, although there was a 10p.m. to 6a.m. curfew. Two weeks later, on November 26 th repairs to the Rollover Pass Bridge were completed, restoring full access to the area. In spite of these restrictions, several enterprising residents (whose houses were not severely damaged) never left the peninsula. Others found ways t o visit and/or move back to their property before it was sanctioned, usually because they felt the need to


32 protect their belongings. 2 Oliver Smith des disaster solidarity (1999 a : 158). Again, this was a very short lived phase on the peninsula After ascertaining that their friends and family me immediately turned to how badly their property was damaged and what they would need to do to fix it. Most people I spoke with reported being anxious to get back to protect their property because they believed that looting was rampant on the peninsula. One couple did not rebuild their stairs for months so that they could pull up a ladder at night to prevent looters from entering their house. In actuality, it is unclear whether or not looting actually occurred on the peninsu la. S tudies on looting have found that it is infrequent, if not nonexistent, in most disaster situations although it is commonly believed to be a problem (Dynes 1970: 88). Also, t here were no recorded cases of looting on the peninsula and no one I spoke t o had anything taken from their property Despite being prepared by pictures and reports from friends, everyone with whom I spoke claimed to be shocked speechless on their first trip to the peninsula. Turning onto 87, they gasped at how Ike had flattened the landscape, leveling dunes and tearing out trees. The gulf seemed so close and threatening, and the dozens of cars stuck in the fields to the north of 87 evoked stories of lives lost. The sight of Gilchrist was almost unbearable, especially for those who called it home. Piles of debris replaced hundreds of beach cottages. Inexplicably, one yellow house stood to the left and one red house stood to the right, offering a glimmer of hope that the area would recover. After driving through Gilchrist, the rem ains of Crystal Beach almost came as a relief, yet the situation was still 2 Law enforcement apparently turned a blind eye to residents disobeying the vacate order


33 mind blowing. Houses rested on the side of the highway and nestled against businesses. Piles of debris dwarfed buildings and absent walls exposed the rattled contents of homes. Ever ything was brown, covered with a slimy mud, and there was no greenery in site. As people made their way through town they struggled to find landmarks and to locate and t hough they lost whatever was downstairs. Others discovered that, although their house was standing, water had ruined everything inside. Still others returned to a partial house and were able to salvage some belongings. Some had only a set of pilings to ref lect on and others only a slab. While houses closer to the water were more likely to have been damaged, no one could quite explain the pattern of destruction. Someone might find a trail of their belongings through their neighborhood while their next door n eighbor could find nothing. In addition to houses and material belongings, people hurried to locate, commiserate with, and support friends and neighbors. There were tears all around Feelings of solidarity were revived at the sight of neighbors and there w as a period of eversibly altered. Kai Erikson natural, in which all takes place has proved to be brittle and f 1999c: 140). The situation seemed insurmountable for several months after the storm, during which time the area was populated mostly by utility and construction workers, adding another eerie aspect to the experience of returning h ome. they returned to a habitable house, a partial house, or nothing and whether or not they had


34 the means and desire to rebuild. Many people reported being annoyed with and unab le to understand friends who were faced with a different set of challenges than themselves. Hoffman reports that disa 1999c: 143). Regardless of their situation, people discovered that living elsewhere, either with family, a friend, in a hotel, or in a fifth wheel trailer, was tiresome and agit ating. Hence, most people were quick to register with FEMA, which a handful of residents had done after previous storms. A minority of residents refused to register on grounds of not taking aid from the government. FEMA directly provided a number of servi ces on the peninsula. Most notably, they gave an automatic $28,800 to residents who lost their h ouses and were uninsured. Later, they provided trailers for people who lost homes in the approved, lower risk zone and offered housing in a FEMA trailer park in High Island, affectionately dubbed risk flood zone. FEMA also reimbursed peninsula residents the money they spen t during evacuation whic h FEMA also manage d the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), the insurer of last resort for those in high risk flood zones, including the peninsula. Homeowners who were insured under the NFIP and whose (cost of repair would be at least 50% of the pre storm value) by the county, had the opportunity to take advantage of Increased Cost of Compliance (ICC) coverage, which


35 paid up to $ 30,000 towards the cost of demol ishing, relocating, or improving a house to meet current building codes. A few people I spoke to claimed that they were not informed about this program before it ended. Through FEMA, t he federal government designated a Community Development Block Grant (C DBG) for Galveston County to rebuild infrastructure and residences. At a public meeting in January 2010, a FEMA representative explained to the community that the infrastructural CDBG money was going towards 1) fixing Highway 87 (they were working with the Department of Transportation to elevate it and make it safer, a 15 to 100 million d ollar project), 2) dealing with w ater drainage issues, 3) dealing with w astewater, and 4) rehabilitating the dunes. I ndividuals who applied for CDBG money to repair their h omes were still waiting to hear whether they were accepted at the time of my fieldwork in 2009 The county kept pushing back the announcement date, which upset residents who were counting on the money to rebuild. FEMA also reimbursed the county for activi ties such as removing debris that property owners piled at the edge of the right of way and sifting all of the sand blown off of the beaches, removing the debris, and then redistributing it. They also funded a nuisance abatement program that removed debris piles from private property if they posed a health risk. Through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, the federal government also allocated the county money to buy out properties near the beachfront for 75% of their value the day before the Ike hit, shoul d the owners be interested in and apply for the program. This was another example of the federal government engaging in risk


36 reduction. In January 2010 it was announced that this process would take another eighteen months to complete. Bolivar Peninsula Co mmunity Meeting Tuesday, March 23, 2010 5 7 PM, Crenshaw Elementary & Middle School Crenshaw Elementary and Middle School is located at 416 Highway 87 on the west side of Crystal Beach. Come visit with County and Agency officials, as well as your neighbor s, to discuss progress with various Ike recovery programs. We hope you can attend. Thank you. Galveston County will host a public meeting Tuesday, March 23 from 5 7 PM at Crenshaw Elementary to update Bolivar Peninsula residents on various Ike recovery pr ojects. It has been 18 months since Hurricane Ike devastated the peninsula, destroying 3,600 homes, severely damaging the ferry landing and Rollover Pass Bridge, and devastating public infrastructure. Public meetings have been held every couple of months t o help keep citizens informed of debris cleanup, water and power restoration, road repairs and other response activities. The long process of obtaining grant funds through the federal and state governments is nearly complete, and many projects beneficial t o the peninsula are finally under way County officials will brief citizens on these projects at the March 23 meeting, and then take questions. "As we have with previous meetings on the peninsula, we will reserve most of the meeting time for questions and answers," said County Commissioner Pat Doyle, who has spearheaded the peninsula recovery projects along with County Judge Jim Yarbrough. "We have made significant progress, no doubt, but much remains to be done." The Community Development Block Grant hous ing program, the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program for buyouts, and CDBG infrastructure repairs all will be discussed. In addition, an update will be provided on the ongoing Bolivar Blueprint long term recovery process which will result in some exciting pro jects beneficial to citizens and visitors alike. CDBG Housing Program CDBG Infrastructure Projects FEMA Temporary Housing Units Drainage and Road Repairs HMGP Buyout Elevation Program Bolivar Blueprint Long Term Recovery Plan Emergency Notification for 2 010 Hurricane Season On the whole, most people were satisfied with FEMA and the county, although many complained that they were inconsistent and offered people different amounts of aid for no apparent reason For instance, one financially stable woman who did not have Figure 5: A news bulletin from, announcing a meeting in March 2010, eighteen months after the storm and seven months after my fieldwork. On the county leve l, the same issues and programs continued to be salient long after the storm. Topics to Include:


37 $ 8,000 for not being insured, although, under the circumstances, they would not have paid her had she been carrying a policy with the NFIP. I heard countless other stories of this nature. People living in the FEMA trailer park reported that FEMA personnel tried to deny i ts existence, only caving in when they demonstrated they knew its whereabouts. In short, although FEMA and the county intended to help Bolivar residents, getting a straight answer and prompt response from them often proved daunting, adding to the confusio n and stress of recovery. L i k e t h e m is un de rs ta nd in gs b e t w e e n r e s i d e n t s w h o l o s t d i f f e r e n t a m o u n t s o ther complaints about FEMA and county personnel centered on the feeling that, since they were not victims, they could not understand and did not respect the trauma and stress residents were dealing with. In additional to government sponsored aid, faith based volunteer groups from nearby towns brought food, water, and other relief supplies soon after people were allowed to return A t least three faith based youth groups also helped remove debris and rebuild houses over their spring breaks. One minister on the peninsula estimated t hat he helped direct at least a thousand volunteers. Those with NFIP fl ood insurance reported that it paid fairly. On the other hand, dealing with the Texas Windstorm Insurance Agency ( T W I A ) and its adjustors was almost a universal pain. While residents whose houses were only slightly damaged were usually paid fairly by windstorm, m ost people, including those who lost their entire house, were told that wind had caused 11.2% of their damages. Subsequently, many


38 residents hired attorneys and entered into a long, arduous battle with TWIA Indeed, Hoffman points out that it is common for s the subject of Chapter Four The process of d etermining if and how to rebuild or repair a home could also be frustrating. Some people waited months, in m any cases over a year, to find out if they had money coming in from insurance policies, loans, and grants. Once decided, f inding a trustworthy contractor could be a tricky business. Home builders and contractors had flocked to the area after the storm and by Then there was the building permit process and, on top of that, everyone had to have the safety of their septic systems, water pipes, and electrical wiring examined before their utilities could be turned b ack on. By the end of July 2009, the county had issued 600 permits. In the mean time, residents were busy shopping to replace basic household items like towels, sheets, shoes and socks, and cooking ware. People who had anything to return home to had an ard uous cleaning process ahead of them. If water entered a house, everything was covered with a sticky, smelly layer of mud. All debris was to be moved to the side of the public right of way for pick up. If a property owner wanted the county to remove a large pile of debris from their property, they had to go through an application process. The paperwork to get personal residences in order was endlesss. Many residents lost businesses as well and had to enter into separate permitting and loan processes. In addi tion to taking care of personal matters, some people volunteered to help clean out the community center and the churches, to help their fellow residents, and to distribute food and supplies. Everyone was thankful for


39 the owners of The Tiki Bar and Coconuts two of the biggest restaurants in Crystal Beach, which reopened early in October provided many free meals, and served the only hot food on the peninsula for months. se of two Yahoo! Internet groups facilit ate d every stage of this process by allowing people to share with and support each other f rom their evacuation locations. P eople also used these groups to help each other navigate the recovery process, which was often compromised by muddled communications with FEMA and the government and by misinformation from the media. Proactive residents also created Restore Bolivar Peninsula, a group which organized open meetings with Galveston County and FEMA officials and distributed information on a monthly basis for the first five months after the st orm. The meetings drew well over 500 attendees. Such groups ridden, debilitating, and stale As Oliver Smith and Hoffman put it, post disaster reconstruction is a time w hen other words, during the process of r e c o v e r y communities may either restore themselves to pre storm conditions or make lasting changes to the ways they operat e. When disasters expose vulnerabilities, people usually make an effort to create a more resilient society. and, unfortunately, pre disaster resiliency and recovery planning is usually pushed aside by decision makers in favor of solving more immediate problems. In line with this pattern, the peninsula did not have an official post disaster resiliency plan


40 According to Berke and siliency in a disaster context means the ability to survive future disasters with minimum loss of life and property, as well as the ability to create a greater sense of place among residents; a stronger, more diverse economy, and a more economically integr 193). On the other hand, Peterson et al. point out that post disaster recovery will likely are not purposefully directed towards positive, long term goals (2006: 646). Ideally, disaster planners, community leaders, and citizens should work together to ensure that recovery includes positive changes that Christopher Dyer refers to this as the (1999). On the peninsula, Galveston County and FEMA spearheaded the form ation of the Bolivar Blueprint C ommittee with the goal of improving the community, making it more resilient, and achieving a ph oenix effect: In the wake of Hurricane Ike, the Galveston County Commissioners Court recognized the need to establish a comprehensive recovery process that would get Bolivar Peninsula back on its feet. A critical factor in achieving recovery success was th e need to leverage the help and support of numerous state and Federal agencies so that the community could build back, better and stronger than ever. In March, 2009 Galveston County initiated the recovery planning process for Bolivar Peninsula in partnersh Long Term Community Recovery Program, also referred to as Emergency Support Function (ESF) #14. A team of planners, economists, architects, and engineers worked hand in hand with County staff, electe d officials, and members of the community to prepare the Bolivar Blueprint an Hurricane Ike. (The Bolivar Blueprint)


41 The group split into subcommittees on Infrastructure, Human Services, Environment, Economic Development, Housing, Education, and Park, Recreation and Tourism. These subcommittees identified the strengths and weaknesses of the peninsula and came up with nd safe place to live where residents and visitors enjoy nature and recreation in a diverse community of small Blueprint). The FEMA employees on the committee were meant to h elp the citizens visualize recovery projects and steer them towards the resources needed for their completion. In May 2009, after holding two open meetings to get the input of citizens, they published and distributed a 103 The committee continued to meet throughout the rest of the year and held a third open meeting in January 2010, which I was able to attend. Most of their projects have yet to be implemented, althou gh they seem to be taking community input seriously and developing a holistic approach to recovery. The Blueprint, available online at, offers a great overview of long term efforts at the community level. Plans to repair a nd upgrade infrastructure, strengthen the dune system, build affordable houses, attract more tourists, make the peninsula more child and family friendly, clean up and utilize parks, and encourage small business were all in the works, although it was too ea rly to determine what lasting changes, beyond new construction and improved infrastructure, would occur on the peninsula.


42 While disasters can provide the impetus for people to change their communities the disaster event is perceived to have its own agenc y as well Most obviously, disasters can cause terrible physical destruction and loss of life and bring normal economic activity to a halt. In doing so, they sometimes accomplish things that cultural and legal restraints on human behavior do not allow. On the peninsula, in addition to the official changes were effectively washed away. Than ks to Ike, t was able to take a passive rather than an active role in removing the unwanted group, which allowed them to place blame on the disaster, rather than themselves or government policies for their inability to return Harriet Albro, a retiree resident and social butterfly, emphasized the negative side of this change: It's awfully hard to get in your mind, and keep there, that there are so many people that are nev er going to recover from this. There are peopl e who have had to sell their lots for next to nothing so that they could live, and they 'll never be able to come back. They can't afford to build by the new codes. So, it definitely will change us. We'll come back more as a resort community than fish cam p. In addition to financial inability, some people chose not to rebuild because the y found the devastation too difficult to handle or because health limitations prevented it Despite the loss of some friends and neighbors, at the time of my fieldwork mos t everyone agreed that the progress made towards recovery in Crystal Beach was unbelievable. The Big Store, six restaurants, two gas stations, two interior design shops, multiple landscaping companies and hardware stores, all of the real estate companies, the motel, a bar, and the liquor store had all reopened, along with several small home repair


43 businesses. Also, most community groups were meeting again and all of the churches were active and holding services. The Department of Transportation was working on raising the portion of Highway 87 that flooded easily and 2 300 out of 6 000 water connections had been restored. In October 2008, no one imagined that the peninsula would have come so far by the next summer. Several C r y s t a l B e a c h r e s i d e n t s I spoke to, proud of their re silience, were confident that the area was in the process of becoming residents sh ops were operating near Rollover Pass, and about fifteen houses had been rebuilt, but it did not resemble its usual self. Many Gilchrist residents were waiting to see if the highway mig ht be moved back before making the decision to rebuild or not The Gene ral Land Office was also planning to fill in Rollover Pass, an action that many feared would be the death of the community. Although residents emphasized of how far they had come attern of multiple years to achieve ( Hoffman 2002: 149).


44 VOICES (3) unr eal. And a lot of people like me, we just go do it. But somewhere down the road you t shirts in shirt, comfortable, and occasionally you reach for one of those shirts or something It still, it hits you every day. Annabelle Brumbelow But I see a lot of depression in people. You know, I think in the last two or three months especially. People for the first six months or seven months were fighting with insurance companies and were trying to get their houses and their belongings, etc. and all that kind Ma x Kearley


45 CHAPTER THREE METHODOLOGY: WRITING UP A STORM In the fall semester of my third year at New College I figured I should decide on ry. Hurricane Ike entered the Gulf in the midst of this decision making process. On the night of Friday September 12, 2 0 0 8 I stayed in to listen to news The next day I heard that Gilchrist and Crystal Beach were destro yed. I knew immediately that I wanted to write my thesis on the social effects of the storm and that I would spend January in Crystal Beach. My great grandmother Gussie, retired to Crystal Beach in the 1960s and, although she passed away before I was born my family still owns the one room house she lived in. Throughout my childhood, we used it as a summer and weekend vacation home. Having spent a considerable amount of time on the peninsula, I was deeply ocate a picture of our house online and finally discovered that, even though it was built in the early 1950s, it withstood the storm. The house is located about a quarter mile inland, close to Highway 87, in the center of Crystal Beach and was on ten foot pilings. About a foot and a half of water entered the house during Ike and the largest debris pile on our street was in our yard. Among the thousands of snapped pieces of wood, there were three roofs, an entire house, a dumpster, a hot tub, and countless s maller possessions. In October 2008, over Fall Break, I made my first post Ike visit to the peninsula. I spent three days with my family cleaning our house, taking pictures, and chatting with


46 neighbors. I returned again in January 2009, although I was not able to live on the peninsula as I had hoped. The house was still uninhabitable and it would have cost close to $500 a week to rent a trailer in High Island. Instead, I made the two hour trip from my house in Houston several times throughout the month. D uring this time I conducted some preliminary interviews with business owners, real estate agents, and family friends, went on extensive tours of each of the communities, and attended two community meetings. One meeting, held at the Beaumont courthouse, was organized by Restore Bolivar and was intended to distribute information about recovery to Bolivar property owners. The other was held by the Bolivar Peninsula Lighthouse Krewe, a group that oversees the annual Mardi Gras parade. They decided to go ahead a nd plan a parade for the following month. I also met and spoke with Greg Thompson, the owner of the small, local art museum run by the Bolivar Peninsula Cultural Foundation, while he was outside repairing his properties. Quite a few people had managed to m ove back to Crystal Beach by this time, although many of them were living in trailers while they repaired their homes. I returned a third time, in March, over my spring break, to take pictures for a visual anthropology presentation. Over the spring 2009 s emester, I also organized a grandmother, for the summer. T he bulk of my fieldwork was carried out over two months between June and August 2009.


47 I would describe summer 2009 as a period of optimism for the Crystal Beach and uncertainty for Gilchrist. While many people had reestablish ed their lives to their satisfaction, many were still unsure whether or not they would be able to return. Although everyone was still regularly confronted with the aftermath of the hurricane in the landscape and their daily activities, most residents were eager to move on and discuss other topics. As such residents did not talk about the storm, short term restoration, or their losses on a daily basis. Rather, they tended to be forward looking and co ncerned with the present, which, of course, still revolved around problems that arose from Ike The wounds were beginning to heal although the experience was still fresh. During June, I spent most of my time trying to get to know people. Being shy, this was not an easy task. It did not help that most peo ple were usually busy working on Figure 6: Photos of the house I stayed in during my fieldwork. The top row shows the damage from Ike and the bottom row shows the new renovations. (Photos by author)


48 personal recovery efforts. Motivated by meeting Mr. Thompson, I decided to attend a ladies painting group that met at the Joe Faggard Community Center, one street away from my house. Four women from Crystal Beach and Gilchr ist, Opal, Loraine, Iva and Hillary, regular ly attended the get togethers an d t every now and then. The women welcomed me into their group a nd offered to teach me the basics of painting. They were all hobby painters and though they enjoyed painting, they also met to eat and socialize. I painted with the group regularly for the remainder of the summer and they became my main informants. Post Ik e art became one of my research interests and they introduced me to several other peninsula artists. I also started learning to play Bridge from a woman who was offering lessons and attend e d the local Methodist c hurch, Bay Vue United Methodist a s w e l l a s seve ral other group meeting s These included the Chamber of Commerce, a fishing club, an exercise group, a gardening club, a quilting club, AARP, and the Gilchrist Community Association. I also had conversations with members of the Lighthouse Krew e and the Bolivar Outreach group. Several people were members of multiple groups, making for interesting gossip exchange. I enjoyed attending these meetings, all of which doubled as social gatherings. The Chamber of Commerce and GCA meetings were business oriented and informative. I usually spoke only when called upon to explain my project. One woman, Marcie Buttrey, who I had contacted by email, was nice enough to introduce me at these meetings. The other groups, all of which met at the community center, w ere more informal. For


49 instance, the art group, AARP and the fishing group all held potluck dinners at their meetings. As a young college student, I was a rarity in the area and everyone liked having me around. My presence often prompted jokes about age a nd I was named the mascot of AARP. The secretary even made me an official name tag. My informants also appreciated that I had experienced their communities before the storm and that I had visited during many stages of the recovery process. They were especi ally glad that I was there to witness the devastation in October, which they felt they could not adequately describe. Throughout July and August I continued to attend meetings, but also set up and conducted formal interviews, mostly with members of these g roups. T h e d i s a s t e r l i t e r a t u r e s u g g e s t s t h a t p e o p l e i n v o l v e d i n c o m m u n i t y g r o u p s w i l l m a k e a m o r e r a p i d a n d thorough p e r s o n a l r e c o v e r y T h e r e f o r e m y i n t e r v i e w s p r o b a b l y skewed t o th e p o s i t i v e s i d e My interviewees included the president of AARP, the president of the Chamber of Commerce, the president of the Cultural Foundation, and the secretary of the GCA, among others. I also interviewed t e n area artists, a longtime friend of my grandma, the edi tor of the local newspaper, The Beach Triton the founder of one of the Yahoo! Groups, the creator of an online news bulletin, and the president of the water board. In total, I conducted twenty five formal interviews, averaging a little over an hour each. The majority of my interviews were conducted in the homes of the interviewees. The remainder took place at worksites, restaurants, at the community center, or at my house. Since each interview was tape recorded and m y interviewe es were used to thinking an d talking about the topics we discussed my interviews were very strong and I


50 have been able to take many direct quotes from them. First, I would ask my interviewee to recall their evacuation story. This usually led to a long and involved account of their in their preferred direction Some focused on recovery, some on tragedy, some on themselves and psychological problems, others on community events. I believe this reflects their personality types, the ir stage of personal recovery, and their position in the community. Almost everyone mentioned how little they evacuated with, how ill prepared their house was to withstand the storm, that they detested being dependent on friends and family, and that the y were either anxious or happy to be independent again. Many people were also eager to discuss their insurance woes Although many of my interviewees belonged to the same circle of friends, each had a different understanding of Ike and the recovery process Some returned to unscathed homes, some lost everything. Some had insurance, others did not. Some were in the process of rebuilding, others were still unsure if they would be able to return p e r m a n e n t l y Some handled the aftermath well, others were emotionally unstabl e. Of those who lost their homes, some lived in FEMA trailers, others in rental houses, and others in their own trailers. I spoke to lifetime residents, women with children, recent retirees, and weekenders. However, I did not speak to anyone who decided no t to return. Throughout the summer I kept field notes in a small red notebook. I rarely took notes while interacting with people, preferring to write when I arrived back home. I then transcribed these notes into Word documents, adding more information. Alt hough the bulk of my thesis data comes from my transcribed interviews and field notes, I also spent


51 a considerable amount of time reading newspaper articles and official documents that pertained to Bolivar because, like the residents, I struggled to keep a breast of what was going on at the county, state, and federal levels in terms of recovery. T h r oug ho u t t h e r e s t o f t h e t h e s i s I a t t e m p t t o l e t t h e r e s i d e n t s s p e a k f o r t h e m s e l v e s b u t t o p r o v i d e a n a d e q u a t e a m o u n t o f i n t e r p r e t a t i o n a s w e l l


52 VOICES (4) I really just have to set my mind to 'everything's ok, everything's fine, wonderful day', and then I walk out with a smile. But when I come back and I close the door it's dark for me. It's solemn. I'm alone. And I could probably just sit here and just cry bucketfuls. And the bed or whatever, and do some wor then it's time to go to bed. And I get up and try to do the same thing tomorrow. But it's like if I get out there and [do things] it's just a facade. And I'm kind of crusted over, I won't let anybody in with my...with what I'm really going through. Marcie Buttrey Yeah, you ar e stagnant to an extent. I have to say I've always been a busy person and always felt like you had to be productive and somehow or another you needed to do dwell in i t. I don't care if you don't do anything but plant a seed, you've done something productive for the day. I think it's really important for people to keep busy and keep positive and look at something. When I power washed part of my house the other day... everybody needs to power wash. There's some kind of strength in that. There's power in that. Christa Pelt


53 CHAPTER FOUR CONFUSION: THE INSURANCE DISASTER As I mentioned in the previous chapter, my interviewees, and residents in general, were always willing and ready to share their insurance stories, or, if they did not have any dedicated to exploring the confusion and solidarity that emerged out of their negative int eractions with the Texas Windstorm Insurance Agency (TWIA), which constituted the Secondary Disasters Every disaster victim has a unique experience and, therefore, a unique perspective on which aspect of the disaster event was the most disastrous. In most cases, a set of of stress and confusion for the victims. These secondary disasters often become more salient than the original disaster event. On the peninsula, things such as damaged credit scores, the proposed closing of Rollover Pass, and poor water drainage, as well as dealing with the government agencies, applying for loans, and hiring a reliable contractor c onstituted sec ondary disasters. Emmy Dixon a realtor from Crystal Beach, believed that the lack of affordable housing was the main disaster. She explained that without houses many people could not move back, which meant business es and schools would not reopen, which m eant that fewer people would be willing to rebuild, and so on. Another disaster, for the small group of people


54 affected, was om rebuilding. As I mentioned in Chapter Two, a more universal source of stress was that utility, bank, telecommunications, and insurance company employees, who lived elsewhere, did not understand or appreciate the damage the peninsula had experienced. For instance, Dish Network asked customers who had lost their homes and cancelled their service to return Talking over lunch, the Beach Bum Painters agreed that, since they had no control over Mother Nature it had been relatively easy to come to terms with the storm itse lf. Rather, their current stress es revolved around disagreements with insurance companies and government bureaucracies. They joked that paperwork, not art, was their new hobby and complained that attempting to take care of business often felt like a poker game wher majority of the peninsula population and the most widely discussed secondary disasters o pay in a timely manner. The literature on disaster recovery in the United States acknowledges that r embodies, and


55 loathed among residents. This loathing was exacerbated by p rec on c e i v e d e x p e c t a t i o n s a b o u t d i s a s t e r r e c o v e r y Oliver Smith and Hoffman e xp la in t h a t the experience of disaster is colored by the ways in which p worldview s shape safety, fortune and fate ( 2002: 11). P eo pl e s preconceived cultural models are 1). Before H u r r i c a n e Ike, most peninsula residents believed that if they lived their life well, took care of their property, and faithfully paid for insurance, they would, in their time of need, be taken care of in return. Similarly, they believed that the media est ablishment (the subject of the next chapter) would be there to guide them through recovery, as they had for other disaster stricken populations. These expectations were not met. I n effect, insurance companies, and, to a lesser degree, the media, interf preconceived notions of ho w h u r r i c a n e recovery should p ro ce ed This magnified the Tia and Allen Hardegree, a couple I interviewed, demonstrated this ideology: Tia : We've been pushed up against the wall and have come back fighting. Allen : Yeah, pushed, pushed, pushed, and pushed. The other thing I've noticed, too, it's similar to other stresses that I've had during my life, and you tend to start to, well, you know your priorit ies a lot quicker. When you're under stress your pr They just seem to line up and then you don't like interference with that.


56 work out grief. the confusion of change to take their bearings and lean toward strategy for could easily morph in to an ideology of blame, i n which, r e s i d e n t s w e r e u n w i l l i n g t o f i g h t b a c k b u t c o m f o r t a b l e c o m p l a i n i n g R ather than provoking change, t h i s justified stagnation. In the next two chapters, I present the ways in which TWIA and the media, respectively, caused confusion and stress. I also argue that commiserating about insurance woes, c the media helped residents manage this confusion and stress by making them more aware of their community a n d t he recovery process The Insurance Disaster Insurance confused most residents and certainly baffled me, especially since I have never had an insurance policy, much less made a claim on one. In this section, I attempt to present the insurance disaster as per b u t a l s o m a k e s o m e o b s e r v a t i o n s F o r i n s t a n c e I noticed that insurance battles renewed the post disaster bonds of solidarity between homeowners and forc ed them to become more aware of the implications of science in the interpretation of hurricane s. I want to introduce the details of the insurance disaster b y extensively quoting my interviews with Max Kearley and Clayton Letellier, two retired men whose homes were extensively damaged, but standing and repairable. Mr. Kearley carried both windstorm


57 and flood insurance and, after hiring a public adjustor, was a ble to attain enough money to fix his home: So, because of Katrina and Rita, the minute I saw the condition of my house I knew there was going to be an argument between flood and you are and hired a firm, a public adjuster. And so they work for you against the insurance company. And the insurance company has adjusters who work ir job is to come in and say ell, nd lowball it. And my adjuster is to co adjuster I think the first week of October and we started working with the insurance adjusters. The flood guy came he re like about two weeks after items I had and all my pictures. I h ad before pictures and after pictures. they started arguing back and forth and eventually my adjusters got the f lood people up to $140,000. Meanwhile I had already gotten a contractor, the same one who remodeled of the house; did a couple of things, gutting everything down to the studs. d actually settled with flood for $140,000. But the windstorm people, the house went? What caused it to go? hit i t I said then he sent me a letter and said he thought there was about $1700 damage to my roof. But since I had a deductible of $2500 the wind damage. When we starte d tearing the sheetrock off back there


58 where we could look up in the attic, we could see all these studs up there, the support beams, that were cracked. I took a lot of pictures And then we got a W yeah, minus 10% for my adjuster. With the $15,000 I have to give my adjuster, and was able to successfully lobby for enough money to rebuild. If a homeowner was still financing their house, their mortgage company required them to carry three kinds of Although their properties were well i nsured, they were burdened with the added stress of paying off a damaged or destroyed home. Many peninsula residents owned their homes outright and were under no obligation to carry insurance From my experience, most of these people had windstorm, but not flood insurance. 1 A realtor I spoke to estimated that eight out of ten people were not covered by flood insurance. The reason for this seems to be twofold: the rates had recently gone up and the damages inflicted by an average hurricane ( u n l i k e Ike) would ty pically be covered by a windstorm policy n o t a f l o o d p o l i c y Flood insurance policies only covered damages caused by rising water entering the elevated portion of the house or washing it away. This very rarely happens, but unfortunately for the peninsula, water, due to the u nusually large storm surge, not wind, caused most of the damage during Ike. That said, the few residents who carried f lood insurance reported that it paid fairly. W indstorm reasonably if a house sustained relatively minor roof or deck damage, but not otherwise. Margery Saffer, another of the rare, well insured homeowners with few complaints, told 1 RVs are covered on a single policy, similar to automobile insurance and insurance providers expect owners to remove them from dangerous situations.


59 made it honestly investigate their homes in order to determine whether or not wind was the cause of the damages. Opal Cisco, who was living in FEMAland because she was financially unable to rebuild, had a less than pleasant experience with TWIA. After appealing her case, she received a total of $30,000 on a $138,000 policy. Mr. Letellier, in contrast to Mr. Kearley, was an outspoken man who, like Opal, had a more typical, stressful experience with TWIA: I have strugg led just trying to get money from Windstorm. Windstorm sent my mortgage company a check, and we have done nothing but had pure hell fighting for that money. I In a scenario like this, after a storm has hit, the key that the governm ent should try to achieve or the insurance companies is to try to get people back in their with mortgage companies and bank s, I mean here it is going on eleven months and we sti These adjusters have a lot on their backs because of the insurance companies are forcing these people to try to cut costs as m uch as possible, not very thoro ugh, and they try to get by with as much as they can to keep from paying you the damages. In our case been in construction engineering my whole life, been in engineering in 27 I n this lawyer to figure out or read an insuran ce policy. It should be simple law.


60 get medication, depression medication, to help me get through it. My wife and I both were in tears, and then we started fighting against each other. the cycle of unfair adjustors, the length of time it took to make a settlement, the feelings of injustice, the willingness to fight back, and the relief of hiring a public adjustor parallels interviews and conversations I had with several other residents and I discuss some of these themes below. Adjustors rights almost everyone on the peninsula was unhappy with their adjustors and several reported that they were rude, hateful, and insensitive. Annabelle Brumbelow, who was offered $ 18,000 on a $203,000 policy, expressed a common sentiment among those who lost resented more than anything else, is the fact that they acted like we could just go in our resentment with a story about an interaction she had on the phone with an adjustor from TWIA: A training in psychology, I majored in psychology. And I spoke very slowly,


61 because I knew the conversation was li evacuate, I was with my mother in intensive care until she died, I went to After twenty two minutes you tell me to sit down and read my policy. I don that the office was in. So how in the hell can you tell me to sit down and thousands of people trying to get a copy of that policy. Now let me tell you what to do: you are the carrier of this policy, you have a copy of it, I will be reporting you and your lack of diligence to the insurance council and I will not rest until you are fired. Injustice in the Offer As the months after these initial encounters wore on, the anger directed towards insurance adjustors subsided, only to be replaced, in many people, by a growing annoyance at TWIA for failing to make offers in a timely manner. F i n a l l y p suspicion that the agency was not assessing their individual properties was confirmed when i n A p r i l 2 0 0 9 over ninety homeowners 2 received a form letter offering them 11.2% of their policy limit. Ms. Brumbelow and a half month s, quietly and nicely, for them (TWIA) to say that they had assessed our individual properties and then we all got the same exact letter that offers 11.2% and did not give any allowance fo r w any peninsula residents were comfortable sharing the details of their offers with each other 2 Ms. Brumbelow, through the BolivarBLUE and Bolivar Peninsula Yahoo! Groups, requested that anyone who was of fered 11.2% from TWIA send her their information so that she could organize a protest. Ninety two people sent her information, so there were likely many more people offered 11.2% as well.


62 and, through the use of the BolivarBLUE and Bolivar Peninsula Yahoo! Internet groups, it did not take long for ev eryone to realize that several of their fr iends and neighbors were presented with the same 11.2% Understandably, they were upset and felt that TWIA was going out of their way to avoid paying them. In an interview, Mr. Brightwell asserted that this was the Without insurance money, many people were unable to work on rebuilding. There were two divergent reactions to this situation. First, some people, embodying the ideology of conflict, decided to c ontinue fighting back. But in the end, almost everyone who was unable to rebuild became bogged down in their loss, feeling stagnate, useless, and unwilling to continue the fight: When I fini sh from my day, then I'm ready to talk about it bu t they're not there to (Christa Pelt) so caught up in it. It can consume you and so I just backed off. (Ma rgery Saffer) At first I tried to make sense out of r matter W indstorm was gonna do only what they wanted to do. (Opal Cisco) At the tim e of my research, some people were still uncertain about the future, while others had accepted their lot and devised a personal recovery plan that conformed to their financial capacity. egotiate Rosalind Shaw, an anthropologist writing about floods in Bangladesh, explicates the


63 difference between and scientific knowl edge in regards to natural hazards : human action, they are represented as potentially amenable (to some degree) to prediction and control by specialists: planners, managers, scientists an d engineers. We thus have a hierarchy of agency, underpinned o live with hazards (1992: 203). As residents were arguing for more money, they were simultaneously arguing over whose definition of Ike t h e i r s o r T W I A s, was legitimate and deserved to be recognized. Christa Pelt, a woman from High Island, emphatically related her opinion there weren't tornadoes in certain areas so therefore the windstorm doesn't pay. Don't tell me a tornado didn't go over my house. I have two 35 foot trees laid over flat in my backyard; uprooted and laid over. My house is all unlevele Christa, everyone with whom I spoke believed that there was more wind damage to the area than TWIA would admit, and most people adamantly believed that tornadoes had ces that their Doppler radar did not detect any. Several homeowners I interviewed showed me (and their adjustors) evidence of wind damage to their homes such as pilings facing different d in the same way. Additionally, those who stayed on the peninsula during the storm testified with eye witness accounts of tornadoes. personal convictions in wind damage, many of t


64 in order to legitimize their beliefs. Like Mr. Kearley and Mr. Letellier, several homeowners hired public adjustors and attorneys to argue their cases. A few people even sought out meteorologists and engineers reco gnized scientific experts, to lend credence to their cases 3 Although people were involved in their individual battles with TWIA, commiserating about, comparing, and helping each other through the process of making an appeal brought residents together and renewed their bonds of solidarity. This culminated in a protest at the TWIA headquarters in Austin on March 13 th 2009. Ms. Brumbelow used the BolivarBLUE Yahoo! Group, which she founded, to organize the protest. During our interview, she explained her th ought process upon receiving her I was so mad I thought I just might go and slap Mr. Oliver (the head of 3 In an effort to make my own scientific sense of the storm, I consu lted meteorologist Frank Billingsl e y who worked for Channel 2 News out of Houston. When asked whether or not he thought tornadoes hit the peninsu Wind is wind. A hurricane is wind and water. By definition, wind has to get to a certain sp there are strong winds. And they can destroy miles/hr. You can have an EF0 ca dar a nd you see winds coming at you and winds going away from you in a very small space ard you and away, toward you and away. And if There were none of those spins as I ke came on shore. There were spins like t his. Those are what we call vortices about a thousand feet above the earth that were spinning. And there was the hurricane itself that was spinning. But right down at the surface this coming at you and toward you, this definition of a tornado, of a cyclonic spin this we never found (insurance agencies) use to try to get out of not paying what th ey should pay, in my opinion. C a u problem lies. People want to say, was that a tornado? People in Bolivar want to say, yes it was, and some people say yeah I saw it! But when you have sheets of rain horizontal because the wind is so strong, that would almost lo ok it had to be spinning around you. How else would it be horizontal? So, we, the scientists can only look at what we t see that little


65 re So I put together t he first demonstration that has ever been organized agai one people showed up to march in the rain. They were careful to follow all the rules regarding public demonstrations, were accompanied by alerted the major Houston and Beaumont TV stations and newspapers to their plans. Ms. Brumbelow detailed the experience for me and I relate the highlights here. Upon their arrival, Mr. Oliver invited everyone into a heated tent for refreshments, but, to hospitality, but to demand the money they needed for long term shelter and security. He o one else has w Nobody else could cut me a check and bring it to me for $197,683, I will go home, and I will knit or


66 When I inquired whether or not the protest was successful in terms of TWIA agreeing to increased se ttlement offers, M s. B r u m b e l o w replied: tightest confidentiality agreement to lawyers that I have ever seen. If they had paid them any more money or reopened their claim or settled with these pe tell anybody what they got, how much they got or for what reason they I never disco vered anything else about this secretive policy and at the time of my research, in the summer of 2009, several people were still negotiating with TWIA. To round out my discussion of the insurance disaster, I want to present an opposing perspective, voiced by an outspoken minority of homeowners, most of whom had flood insurance. In reference to their friends who were struggling to rebuild, they tried to convince me tha t the problem was that most people did not understand what their to do your homework. Flood and W in insurance woes bro ught many together, it could also cause dissent amongst friends who were not in the same boat. Likewise, several people were totally uninsured, and therefore unable to commiserate with the insurance crowd.


67 As a result of Ike and the insurance disaster, res idents reevaluated the risks they were willing to take. Rather than moving inland and changing their lifestyle, many people decided to change how they handled their insurance. Some, after dealing with TWIA, decided that windstorm insurance, designed to mak e risk more acceptable, was itself too risky. Instead, they chose to self insure against future storms or splurge on flood insurance. I nsurance was a risk they had control over, whereas the threat of future hurricanes was not.


68 VOICES 5 People said, coming back. Margery Saffer ng. I may not be walking straight, but I can get up. It may take me a while, but I can get up, and I am alive. I may not have a house, but I have property. And I have wildflowers growing on my property. And I do have some grass, a little bit of grass growi ng. And so there's hope. You know, when I first saw the first little blade of grass coming out, I thought 'well if that can live, if that'll come back, we'll come back. Marcie Buttrey


69 CHAPTER FIVE CONFUSION: THE MEDIA The dearth of media inte rest in the peninsula was another popular topic of complaint and, like the insurance disaster, it promoted community awareness and, to a lesser degree, bonds of solidarity among the residents. Admittedly, I was usually the one to bring up the subject of me dia coverage, but when I did, everyone had an opinion on every stage of the media coverage, from pre Ike predictions to long term follow ups. When a hurricane threatens the United States, the media, along with government officials, plays an important role in conveying pre disaster danger and risk. When Hurricane Ike entered the Gulf of Mexico, meteorologists were uncertain abo ut where it would make landfall, so everyone kept an eye on the news, awaiting the ir final predictions. As it became apparent that I ke would affect the peninsula, residents began their usual pre hurricane preparations and most people maintained constant attention to the local news. After the storm, when the extent of the damage was revealed, peninsula residents blamed the news media fo complained that the media had not issued a mandatory evacuation early enough, although this is the responsibility of the government, not the media. As such, the media had failed to adequately conve y the risk and danger the peninsula actually faced. Iva Corrao, a woman who lost her home, explained her disappointment: The news media lied to the people. Eight out of ten people you interview of clothes, No one ever came out and said


70 not taken any pictures of my son? Many residents shared the sentiment that news meteorologists must have known that responses to the coverage of past storms (that did not devastate the peninsula), w hich they felt the media had overhyped. W hen it came time to explain the media had cried wolf too many times ey come to deem ( Hoffman 1999c: 144). As such, the media became another object of the ideology of blame. Still, insurance agencies were held in much greater contempt. Safely evacuated, albeit without many of their possessions, most people stayed tuned in to the news as long as possible and, as such, they experienced the storm and its immediate aftermath via television radio, and the internet. Unable to return, they were reliant on these sources for information about their homes, neighbors, aid o pportunities, and prospects for the future. The media now played the dual role of dispensing information to victims and presenting their plight to the rest of the regional community. for ter television programming. Liebes and Blondheim argue that during disasters television


71 e producer and 2005: 190). television steps out of its role of ensuring casual viewers that reality outside is under control and acquires the role of conferencier, mediator, and mova ble stage, rallying viewers, alternately euphoric or overwhelmed by anxiety or grief, to what is declared a attention was focused on Galveston, leaving them, and the rest o f the country, uninformed about their homes and communities. Residents were upset that the marathon media coverage did not apply to them (quality) and cut off too soon (quantity). ed (Dynes 1970: 188). are used in mass media discourse in order to reassure community members, to provide a (188). Again, Bolivar residents never n the Houston and Beaumont news reports included them. Also, many people, be cause they had evacuated to areas unaffected by the storm, were not exposed to this rhetoric in the days following the storm. Power outages throughout the r eg ion lasting up to two weeks in Houston, did not help the flow of information and many residents rel ied on the internet and phone networks. C ounty officials finally got the chance to proclaim the public, ad hoc Restore Bolivar Peninsula meetings.


72 In addition to the fact that Galveston garnered more major media attention by vir tue of its size and reputation, Bolivar was specifically ignored during the first three days following Ike because Texas Governor Rick Perry placed a no fly order over the peninsula (and the West End of Galveston Island), prohibiting the media from enterin g the area. Residents felt that they were never given an adequate explanation as to why the governor ordered the media blackout, but they speculated that he wanted to prevent e to see In a similar vein, most people I talked to speculated that the death count was higher than reported and that several people who were poor and reclusive and/or evading dead bodi es? Was there really 1,500 unidentified dead over here? Was it really that they who knows. I do know that there was a heavy, concentrated effort between the judge in Ga lveston, the Judge Yarborough 1 and various people not to appear to the nation and to In addition to presenting residents thoughts about the no fly order, b oth of the above quotes introduce t he ways in which the peninsula residents understood Hurricane Ike and themselves in 1 power.


73 relation to Hurricane Katrina and its victims, a theme that pervaded my interviews and conversations and appears again later in this chapter. The no fly order and media bla ckout were lifted on September 15 th three days after the storm, which residents attribute to reporter Wayne Dolcefino, who confronted the governor and demanded access to the area. At this time, Frank Billingsley, a ews, conducted a live, narrated flyover of the peninsula, offering many people their first glimpses of their homes. Shortly thereafter, NOAA posted satellite images that allowed everyone to locate their property. Using these images, most people could deter mine whether or not they had a roof, but little else. Residents were grateful for these images, but wished they had been published sooner. Between September 15 th and September 26 th the news media consistently visited and reported on the peninsula, althoug h most residents were not satisfied with the level of understandings of the storm and its damages were framed and informed by the media. By the time residents were able to actua lly visit their homes, the major media in Houston and Beaumont had, for the most part, stopped focusing on Ike related stories and the disaster marathon was over. Like a Bomb, Like a Movie, Like a Hurricane: Returning Home Returning home to the peninsul a was a dramatic event for residents; the experience of actually seeing, touching, and re inhabiting their homes and communities was radically different than viewing them on television and the internet.


74 glimpse the uncertainty victim populations, this aptly describes the experience of evacu ated peninsula resident s s i n c e the y w e r e r e m o v e d Media images of their destroyed homes were emotional, and while they gave the residents a taste of the damage, they did not aptly prepare them for the return home. As such, their initial post Ike visits to the peninsula tested their sanity. Harriet Albro, a resident introduced earlier in this chapter, told me that her son, who worked for Entergy and was thus able to visit the peninsula before most residents, c ounseled her not to return: many residents made erroneous conclusions about th e state of their homes and properties, believing them to have survived when they had not and vice versa. This misinformation was propagated by word of mouth and through the misinterpretation of satellite photos. During my interviews, I always asked reside nts to describe their peninsula homecoming and whether or not the media had prepared them for it: We sort of thought that we had [prepared for returning]. I mean we knew it was gonna to be devastating because like I said, we had seen it on the news. But s eeing something on TV and then the reality of it all is a totally Island, as we came down going towards highway 87, you know, before could see the ocean see any of the shoreline. Well as we came across that hill you could tell that everything was just level, and I guess my f it looked like somebody j ust dropped a bomb out here and just leveled everything. Ver y


75 emotional. Very heartbreaking. V ery stressful. Like unreal. It was like seeing something out of a movie that was, you know, showing everything was just totally destructed. I mean it was hard to seen. Cows out on the road dead, the road was partially covered by sand. We had to go in private property to get into the area. Plus the round power poles that were down and across the road. (Clayton Letellier who was able to return b efore it was officially allowed ) I cannot to this day tell you what it was like. It was, it was eerie, it was, it I came bac k two weeks after the hurricane hill in High Island the whole horizon had changed [deep sigh] And t hen that drive, it was horrible. Of course you saw all these cars and you knew there were bod ies in them you know over to th e right on the bay side. Oh my G od, there must have been a thous and cars, it was horrible, horrible. And then the color, and this was in October. It was gray. Even down here in October we still have green, but everything was gray. It literally looked like someone had dropped a bomb. And um, it just kept getting worse. Then when I got to Gilchrist, oh my G od, phew, that was horrible. I mean, literally to have a little community wiped completely off the face of the earth. Terrible. I watched that video five the T V did not do it justice till you saw it in person. (Iva Corrao) e mphasized the moment when they turned onto Highway 87, the road that runs parallel to the coast for the length of the peninsula. This was their fi rst realization that the entire landscape had been dramatically altered, or, universally compared to witnessing the scene of a bomb drop, or, alternately, a n apocalyptic movie. These two analogies were by and far the most popular descriptors people used to explain the landscape and convey the emotions invoked by their initial homecomings. At this time, the confused landscape seemed insurmountable and the sheer


7 6 physical destructi on was acknowledged as the most formidable obstacle to recovery, which, as the previous chapter indicates, was not necessarily the case The above quotes also suggest that experiencing and i nternali zing the destruction in person was a very different proce ss than learning about it through television and internet sources. Media images only conveyed a fraction of the visual element of devastation, but, as these quotes evince, the damage was multi sensory. Pushing through the sand, the cracking of the mud, the heat, the stench, and the personal memories that certain scenes evoked were all commonly recalled aspects of the return home. Christa Pelt summarizes this point: Y ou know it's emotional (seeing it on TV), but until you come back and you see it gone and you touch it and smell it, because it was horrible smelling, it'll be a different thing. Then you may have emotions but until you actually go back, and that's just how I am, until you go back and see and touch and smell it didn't tnessing the destruction firsthand, several people I spoke to waivered on their decision to rebuild, but once strides in recovery such as debris removal and repairs to the Rollover Pass bridge became visibly apparent, they were reassured and reinvigorated in their choice to rebuild. Less than satisfactory media coverage was not a devastating secondary disaster in the way that the insurance situation was, but a majority of the peo ple I spoke to felt that the media, both local and national, had mistreated the peninsula and that the recovery process was hampered as a result. This is somewhat ironic since, after a disaster, media coverage is supposed to help prevent secondary disaster s from arising and expedite the


77 recovery process by disseminating information and reassuring the populace. To the contrary, Bolivar residents felt that the media added to their problems by propagating tion, and then ignoring their plight. Residents assumed that outsiders would have been more concerned for them and more willing to help if there had been more immediate media attention. For example, Iva Corrao believed that, had the devastation on the pen insula been more widely publicized, headed stepchild. And you know w peninsula, because it was unincorporated and had a small tax base, was the step child of Galveston County. People proffered this respons e not only in regards to their poor media coverage but also their lack of political representation and material resources. In support of the claim that media attention benefits disaster stricken communities, Dallas Brightwell related a story about a man from San Antonio who, having seen Bolivar on the news, rallied his friends and gathered a pickup truck and trailer full of supplies for the peninsula. Many residents believed that examples such as this would have been more abundant if the peninsula had bee n exposed to more media So yeah, [media exposure] helps. I think it helps Americans who want to help othe ithout the addition of the


78 Opal Cisco explained that s he was upset with the lack of media attention because kind of through with us, but the word kind of got back to them [that residents were unhappy] and they did a few more little interviews down here and a few more updates on One of my interviewees offered a common explanation as to why Hurricane Ike and the peninsula were ignored: Unless you've got a real attenti on getter you're not going to get their attention. We're old news. We fell through the cracks because there was a female and a black running for the White House. So, we just weren't quite as important as those two things. And then we have a black elect ed. Well hell. That was, because it was the first time it's ever happened, that was way too big to pay attention to something like this. Probably the only ones that Ike matters to are those people that were affected by it. This quote acknowledges that the media put Hurricane Ike on the backburner in favor of more nationally relevant stories, but also brings up the issue of race, a surprisingly common talking point on the peninsula, which I return to in the next section Marcie Buttrey, the creator of a weekly online newsletter which was comprised of announcements about local events and included links to news articles relevant to the peninsula ( ), explained that peninsula residents had to me down and cover major stories, such as the closing of Rollover Pass, the demolition of the Catholic Church in Port Bolivar, and the


79 going on and we're gonna be there. Do you want to come and get this story? So several times after that, you know, media picked up on it. So that's why I send them an email too, so they can check out my page and that way, if there's anything that they see that they want to ma ke a bigger story, engage the media, the Bolivar Peninsula Chamber of Commerce and the Gilchrist relationship with the media. The media also disappointed residents when they failed to fact check their reports: My husband caught this first, he was just screaming, you know, anytime reporter] was standing at the roa d block at the end of the road there where Port Arthur to the refineries or to the other communities or ov er to The road has been out seventeen years, it had nothing to do with Hurricane Ike. And that really turned me off. If they were gonna come they should have got it right or they should have asked the local people and got it right. And then he continually called it the Bo lee (Spanish l uh ver belle Brumbelow) to residents that their story did not matter. Although residents felt ignored, the peninsula experienced more media coverage following Ike than it ha s at any other time. The media continued to report on the and a


80 on the website for re turned 325 items for the time period between September 13, 2008 and March 8 2010. Residents acknowledged this unprecedented media exposure and when asked which station or reporter did the best job covering the peninsula, they usually had a ready answer Channel 11 News and reporters Art Rascon (Channel 13) and Rosa Flores (Channel 11), because they had personally contacted and interviewed several residents and returned to the area multiple times, were the most common responses. Comparisons to Hurricane Ka trina When discussing media coverage of the peninsula, residents almost invariably brought up the immense amount of attention Hurricane Katrina garnered and the fact that New Orleans continued to be a popular news subject four years after the storm, wher eas expounded on the dissimilarities between the two storms: [Ike] was a disaster that nobody cared about. Everybody cared about 9/11. Katrina, everybody was so emotional, the movie stars, the big wigs, the President came, everybody came, you know, it was on the news. You know, they interviewed everybody, it was there day in and day out in your face. And nobody cared about us in comparison. I was disappointed that nobody cared. (Opal Cisco) In making these comparisons, Bolivar residents came to identify the peninsula with the Mississippi communities that were hit by Hurricane Katrina. They argued that New Orleans and Galveston, because of their renown, overshadowed the true dest ruction that occurred in Mississippi and on the peninsula, respectively.


81 We have no representation on the peninsula and that was so obvious when nobody knew that we were here as far as even reporting the news. We se everything was about Galveston. That is a place that everybody knows all around Texas...The Bolivar Peninsula is not that well known, but we got crushed. We just got annihilated, whereas there was flood and some things were missing in Galveston, but not near the devastation that we had on the peninsula. (Opal Cisco) I think Bolivar is just like M ississippi focus and we should have been b than we ever did, w hich ch media and what Mississippi got, in the shadow of New Orleans right? M ississippi was devastated like this. (Hillary Cupri) These quotes demonstrate that penins ula residents came to understand their communities in contrast to New Orleans and Galveston. To a large extent, they compared their Comparing geography, storms, and media coverage s eems docile enough, but, just as often, people explained how they, as peninsula residents, differed from the Houstonians to describe the poor, black Katrina evacuees that moved i nto their city. In were calling themselves Katricians because they, in their min survivor from New Orleans who they assumed were on welfare and exploiting FEMA to the best of their abilities. This justification hints at one of rationalizations as to why they did not garner as much media attention as New Orleans:


82 on, which did not make for very interesting news material. Christa Pelt, the owner and editor of The Beach Triton, shared her opinion: When I do the paper I always try to [include] some kind of progress and something that has gotten done. But with the outside media I don't think area, I think it deserves a whole lot more coverage then what it's But for media to still be covering Katrina and not coming down and seeing this and telling the stories about what's going on with the General Land ating. As opposed to straightforward comparisons between the amounts of media attention devoted to New Orleans versus the peninsula, comments such as this, which compared cians. Luis, an eccentric local artist and self was proud that Bolivar had avoided the type of media attention that would have made residents appear weak. Although his opinion differed from most others insofar as he did not wish there had been more media coverage, it was couched in the same rhetoric concerning the Katrina victims: So after the initial shock was worn off, [Bolivar residents] put their pants on. They came down here with rakes and shovels and they started picking media or blame this person or that person. They took care of business like real people should. They cleaned their stuff up and now their rebuilding their lives, unlike what happened in New Orleans. Those people are still whining and crying and it still looks like crap.


83 crying about it. Yeah, if there were people running around streets getting beat up by cops, living in filth, looking for their dead kid, or if there was e to film, a bunch of people conversations, was an implicit racism, a topic I address in more depth in Chapter Six. In add stated their opinion about the role race played in post Katrina versus post Ike media coverage: We happ ened to have that hurricane at the time of an election, we have a him look good to have him helping his people an They think everybody that lived here was retired, white and wealthy and had the celebrities come down, the touchy feel good bleeding heart liberals came down of that Statements such as this indicate that residents believed that stories about black people ostility and disdain towards peninsula residents blamed Katrina victims for presenting the media with compelling images and stories about human tragedy. No one I spoke to had considered why the unwilling to work towards recovery. Even though they wer e annoyed that the peninsula


84 was misrepresented in the media, residents did not investigate whether or not Katrina victims had suffered a similar fate. Rather, they claimed that the Katricians, because they whined and complained, disproportionately and unf airly benefited from their media Again, I want to emphasize that I did not ask my interviewees to compare their situation to Katrina, they did so on th eir own. Being that Katrina was such a widely publicized disaster, it makes sense that it served as one of the main reference points for peninsula residents. Bolivar residents seemed to waver between jealousy and contempt towards New Orleans. On the one ha nd, some people wished that they had received as much media coverage. On the other, no one wanted to appear weak, which is how they perceived the Katricians. Sensationalism in the Media In the above section I point out that most Bolivar residents assumed that their stories were not sensational enough to garner substantial media attention. While this upset some people who felt that they had suffered and deserved to share their experience, others were disappointed that the media had tried to craft sensationa l, emotional, human interest stories about the peninsula that were not necessarily true to the situation. Years ago [the media] seemed to report the news, now they try to create it. They sensationalize it, and make it more important than it is so they can get the best story, so they can get the most money, and on and on and on. is how many people are dead. (Dallas Brightwell)


85 Because of the unsolicited sensationalism that accompanied the media, some residents, like Luis, were happy that there was not much media presence on the peninsula: You know there was enough pictures. I looked at the satellite photo on the Headli ne News to come down here and exploit death and destruction. I saw it on the satellite photos, I saw my trailer. community look pathetic, and these people down here are not that way. They are strong willed people who have a desire to be here, people who In this regard many people agreed with Luis; they felt that sensationalized images of the destruction on the peninsula such as the one below, negati vely affected their reputation. Figure 7: Photo courtesy of the NWS Houston page at


86 ts casually referred to it, was Clayton Letellier eliminate this phrase. Although he was mostly unsuccessfu l, he convinced a few reporters photographer and broadcast on CNN before the Lete lliers had seen it, he and his wife became popular media contacts on the peninsula. As of August 2009 they had done over forty interviews for various newspapers and TV stations and they expected to do many of them again on the anniversary of the storm. Many residents thought that the image of the yellow house hurt the peninsula: house still standing, the one down at Rollover, because, people have not come down. And what of the Bolivar Peninsula Chamber of Commerce expanded on this topic: a store to go to and that kind of been trying to send out newsletters and do some advertising to get people back here. So and I think when people come, then they go back and tell that way. The Chamber of Commerc e aimed to present the peninsula as an inviting tourist locale, not a devastated community in need of aid.


87 As evidenced above, there were many different stances towards media involvement on the peninsula. First, a few people were comfortable with the amo unt of media coverage and were glad to escape the sensationalism of the news. Most people I spoke to wished that the media had paid them more attention though. This second group was divided between those who thought sensational images and stories were usef ul and that the peninsula was devastated enough to deserve more of them, and those who, like recovery. Presenting the Community Oliver Smith and Hoffman explain that ownership of a disaster, that is, the right to claim that it occurred, of events, origin, consequences, and responsibilities, often erupts as a very contested form of discourse in all stages o 2002 : 11). Like the insurance disaster, which prompted residents to seek out scientific explanations of the storm and embroiled them in debates over its definition, engaging with the media encouraged residents to assert their ownership of the disaster. As I po int out above, there were multiple opinions about how the peninsula should have been presented and which aspects of Ike merited the most attention. Again, the residents who wanted more media coverage were divided over their motivations. Some wished to emp hasize the traumatic side of their story in hopes of gaining national recognition and more outside aid, while others attempted to portray the peninsula as a rapidly recovering community that was ready to welcome tourists. The second group was by far the mo re active of the two, but still, these goals were at odds


88 with each other in terms of the image that needed to be presented to the outside world. Although most people in the first group would have been happy to receive some positive coverage regarding reco very, they also believed it facetious for the media to pretend that everything was okay on the peninsula. Whatever their beliefs engaging with the media made residents hyper aware of the peninsula as a community. It made them conscious that they were bei ng looked at and forced them to consider the image they wanted to present, which, depending on the negotiated between those who wanted to deemphasize the devastation and those who wanted to play it up. Although there were no official groups advocating for either stance, individuals and groups (such as the Media Committee of the Chamber of Commerce and the G ilchrist Community association) who engaged with the media wer e able to negotiate the image they projected. Clayton Letellier, the man who owned the infamous yellow house and had done over forty interviews, told me that he always tried to publicize the atrocities of the insurance disaster during his interviews: Bas you feel, are you rebuilding, what do you want people to take out of this, or why are you coming back? Things like that. But not the real problems And sometimes it takes hours of doing interviews and you only get about 10 seconds of it airtime. So all cause p of the largest insurance companies in the country, and they pay highly for I say it all the time, but they always cut that part out.


89 He believed that the insurance disaster was simply the wrong kind of human interest company or my mortgage company, none of that ever comes In addition to publicizing problems, he also tried to use his interviews encourage Our dea l is to let the back too, want to see our neighbors come back, our friends come back he used his position as a peninsula icon and media contact to try to present both the positive and the negative aspects of recovery that he felt were important. reading stories about the peninsula, prompted them to reevaluate and redefine t heir communities and their involvement in them. As such, Hurricane Ike and the resultant media coverage changed the image of Bolivar Peninsula, not only for the outside world, the lookers, but also for the residents.


90 VOICES (6) sed. And then I feel somewhat, I mean I know what everybody, and what was you know. Anne Willis Annabelle Brumbelow But, everybody seems to go just almost out of thei r way now whereas maybe they didn't before. Maybe they were nice. Maybe it is my fault. Maybe I didn't see how nice they were until I got to my knees, I don't know. But I think everybody here is more willing to pitch in and help a buddy, help a friend, and help a neighbor then ever before. So, it has done a lot. You know I said one day, I hate to say this now, but it seems like it was almost God's blessing. Everything is getting cleaned up. We've got a lot of trash taken away and people are rebuildin g, coming back happy and ready to rebuild, ready to get on with their lives instead of a lot of this doom and gloom and woe is me. Sharlene Deyoe


91 CHAPTER SIX COPING: A TALE OF RESILIENCE Oliver ople experience a vast spectrum of emotions anxiety, fear, terror, loss, grief, gratitude, anger, frustration, relief, and resignation color their experiences of preparations, the event itself and the aftermath of a disaster for a : 163). This observation rang true on the peninsula and, despite efforts to appear resilient to the media and the outside world, most residents seemed to continue dealing with psycholo gical issues during my fieldwork. Commonly cited problems included inability to sleep or concentrate, poor short term memory, and depression. Many residents attributed these symptoms to their uncertainty about their future, but s everal believed that they s temmed from their lack of daily routine. Hoffman (2002: 124). Margery Saffer, a woman I spoke to frequently during my fieldwork, offered an it was another challenge that require d her to reevaluate her life. Ike was just more demanding than other challenges because it was so sudden and all encompassing. She also pointed out that, because they were older and retired, she and her husband were at a point in their lives where they had not expected change. Loraine Roessler, another retired resident, made a


92 ork hard all your life so you can retire and be comfortable and then you have the rug pulled out from under you a nd yo you st ill have to change In the previous chapters and interlude quotes, I introduce d some of the problems ed that these adversities provided an opportunity for bonding among residents In this chapter I want to talk about a few of the specific ways in which residents coped with the storm and its secondary disasters, which almost always necessitated t hat residents change in some form or fashion For example The Bolivar Blueprint and other governmen tal programs were designed to help the peninsula ac in terms of economic and infrastructural safety. On a smaller scale, many individuals strove for the same result in their personal recovery not only in terms of the security of th eir homes, but also their friendships, involvement in the community, and outlook on life During my fieldwork, most people, especially those who were actively rebuilding or renovating their homes, were optimistic about the process of recovery and change. A hings have Communication First, I want to discuss the importance of mass communication throughout the recovery process. As the previous chapter points out, residents felt that the news media fai led to adequately communicate important information to the peninsula. Inaccurate information was thought to be one of the major obstacles to recovery and, in response, residents set up several outlets for information sharing. Because phone service was out


93 for several months, cell phones and the internet were primary means of communication. One of the most vital chains of information sharing started with residents, including the president of the chamber of commerce and the sheriff, who were in contact with g overnment officials and regularly attended county meetings. D u ri n g the first four or five months after the storm, t hey passed on the information they gathered through the websites www.BringBackB and www.RestoreB These websites allowed res idents and homeowners who were not well connected through a network of friends to stay informed. In addition to these outlets, two residents, Allen Hardegree and Marcie Buttrey, the creator of the weekly online newsletter mentioned in Chapter F ive, collec ted several hundred email addresses, to which they sent pertinent information as they obtained it. week. The Bolivar Peninsula Yahoo! Group, which was created in respo nse to Hurricane Rita, and the Bolivar B.L.U.E. 1 Yahoo! Group, which Ms. Brumbelow created a few weeks after Ike, also served as lifelines and boasted nearly a thousand members between them. In addition to providing a place to post relevant information abo ut rules and regulations, the Yahoo! Groups and the message board at, allowed members to reconnect, comfort each other, post their thoughts about the peninsula, share information about contractors and other service providers, and s et up for valuable and sentimental items. I n t e r n e t a n d p h o n e c o m m u n i c a t i o n a l l o w e d r e s i d e n t s t o s t a r t r e c o n s t r u c t i n g t he i r c om mu n it i e s a l b e it i n a 1 Beach Lovers United Effectively

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94 v i r t u a l wa y, m u c h s o o n e r t h a n i f t h e y w a i t e d t o p h y s i c a l l y r e t u r n h o m e I t a l l o w e d t h e m t o c o n n e c t a c r o s s the ir t em por ar y d i as p o ra Although almost everyone was internet savvy or had a child or grandchild who was, information was also passed along by word of mouth. Hillary Cupri explained the situation: We wer e in the I mean every new thing that came along was something that was never been done before so it was kind of a work in progress. So when we would find out something we wo It came by word of mouth. The people who could use the internet would find out. I helped s o many people get their permits. Community The bustle of communication in the days following Ike helped give rise to a newfound sense of community among Bolivar residents. In part, this was manifeste d in how quickly most of the community based clubs and groups started meeting again. Margery explained to me that ll of t he little clubs are coming back; t best her ob fieldwork was involved in at least one community activity and, purportedly, attendance at groups such as the Fishing Club and AARP had actually risen since the storm. The to do. I think because of the lack of people, people are getting involved in more

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95 After the storm, residents were given a clean slate. They had the chance to create new persona and get involved with different activities. For most residents, club meetings were one of the most enjoyable parts of their week or month. They gave them an excuse to get out of the house, see their friends, and participate in an activity unrelated to insu rance, grants, permitting or rebuilding. We were so glad when they got this building (the community center) going and we could come and our lives would be semi normal We could start taking exercising, we could start painting in the building again. That would be a sign of things being normal and coming back to being normal, which has helped everybody. I mean you come in here and know how much this is really needed, thi s little building with the ladies coming and going. (Opal Cisco) Parades and festivals (and planning for them) also served as coping mechanisms for residents. Reinstating annual events such as the Crystaland Christmas Parade, Mardi Gras, fishing tournam ents, the Crab Festival, and the Stingaree Music Festival helped ilar effect, the chamber of commerce hosted a ceremonial ribbon cutting every time a business reopened. This allowed residents to gather together and celebrate their progress at regular intervals. Involvement in information sharing networks and community groups and events also allo wed new friendships to blossom, and the majority of people I met gained at least one important friend as a result of Ike:

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96 one thing that Ike did and I say this, others say it: the friendships. I mean, lded together. (Annabelle Brumbelow) In addition to community groups and information sharing networks, these friendships were often the result of new neighbors, especially in the FEMA trailer park in High Island. All over the peninsula, Ike proved to be a universally relatable and acceptable conversation starter; residents were eager to both recount their storm stories and deliberate about rebuilding with each other. In general, because the devastation of Ike was a shared experience, the bonds of communit y were strengthened, making residents more willing to meet and befriend one another. This atmosphere of camaraderie solidarity phase which I mentioned in Chapter T wo and expand on in the next section. Immediate Post Disaster Sol idarity Oliver spontaneous social solidarity emerges that temporarily enables people to put aside self interest and come together in common effort. And equally recurrent, this solidar ity proves a : 156). Although this trend has been observed for years, it has few explanations. Oliver Smith believes that interest play an important role in substantiate this belief, he analyzes post disaster solidarity and its dissipation in terms of d organic solidarity and Victor

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97 while people attend to the more immediate necessities of individual and family well being. Everyone experiences the same stresses and hardships, and everyone has now the time being, the community reverts back in which everyone shares the same concerns, goals, and tasks. Organic solidarity, which is founded on the division of labor, is usually reestablished when substantial forms of aid arrive. Similarly, Oliver Sm ith of communitas due to decreased recognit he end of the emergency period and the to structured behavior (167). In short Oliver Smith argues that since everyone is brought to their knees in the wake of disaster, it is both rational and emotional for them to create bonds of solidarity with their fellow community members. In contrast to the generic disaster situation described above, the people of Bolivar were, for the most part, evacuated when Ike hit and therefore did not have to pull together to save lives and manage ba sic survival activities. On the other hand, everyone was left in the same state of confusion and they experienced a modified form of solidarity via cell phone s and internet. This was not universally true, of course, and many people reported feeling lonely and out of touch while they were evacuated. In general, I found that the

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98 diasporic nature of the Ike evacuation prevented solidarity and communitas from emerging in full force. Despite this, several people I spoke to noted that aspects of post disaster so lidarity persisted for months after the storm. One woman told me that the process of recovery Some maintain ed solidarity while fighting similar battles with Galveston County and TWIA but for most, these feelings dissipated once the emotional impact of the destruction wore off and insurance and aid money began to flow At that point, people began to face person alized sets of challenges based on their needs and resources. Still I think that Ike caused Bolivar resid ents to be come more integrated into the peninsula community and, as a result, more appreciative and aware of their place within it As everyone worked together to cope with the storm, they reinvigorated the felt as a single communit y Post disaster solidarity was most obvious in High Island since many people never evacuated the area: I remember in High Island, we were surro unded by water for days 2 and over, and it took forever because it was such a huge storm, well everybody your ow n debris and once you get that done you start helping Mr. and Mrs. Smith who are too old. You rally around the church. The Baptist Church and the Methodist Church rotated every day for services. We had a lady that worked at the water utility district so s he had keys to the water tower in High Island. The people who worked the local convenience store had evacuated, that we knew. We got permission to go into the store. We never did without, water or food. We could have caught our own. The guy next to me was 2 High Island, because it was the highest point on the peninsula, was surrounded by water it was literally an Island after Ike. For a photo, see the Houston Chronicle s Hurricane Ike, page 68.

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99 think three days later the Texas Game Wardens came in and brought us had the stuff. You know, seven days after the hurricane Galveston County sheriffs came in and sa id they were putting a curfew on us. We told them that nobody robbed or raped or nothing. We took care of each other like Americans should do and when they came down here and said that, we need a curfew. We could get by (Dallas Brightwell) resilience, a particularly esteemed character trait on the peninsula. A Tale of Resilience: Long Term Coping Reaffirming their resilience w as one of the most common ways residents reassured each other that everything would eventually return to normal. These exchanges keeping with the myth they did not want, nor feel they needed, personal assistance from the government. As Residents even attrib Allen Hardegree described: Those old additions 3 were built primarily by the refinery workers out of the Beaumont area and Port Arthur, the triangle area. And they built them themselves. They scrou they would find out where maybe a building was getting torn down and they would go and salvage materials off of it during the week, load it on ne of 3 Residents referred to the neighborhoods on the peninsula as additions.

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100 them knew how to frame a house. One of them was a carpenter. One of them was an electrician, he knew how to wire. One of them knew how to put paint on right and that sort of thing. And they would come down here on the weekends and they would help one another and they would build those houses. They would work hard during the day and party hard during the night. They'd go fishing. They'd have fish fries. But, little by little, they built one of those houses for very little money. And, you can't do that anymore. You cannot build like that anymore. You have to have permits. You have to have inspections. You have to build to codes and whether or not you're going to have insurance. I call this story mythic not because it is false, but because it was highly revered and example of anthropologist Jack Lule expresses prevailing ideals, ideologies, values, an d belie e claims provides a model, whenever there is a question of doing something I believe that in rebuilding their homes and communities, because of this pervasive narrative. As such, it also informed their engagement with and opinion of the media t hey wanted their on the government. S everal months af ter the storm, Ike was becoming the latest chapter about people who moved back before utilities were restored, defied government curfews, and helped each other rebuild. In reality and on the contrary, peninsula residents relied heavily on government aid throughout the recovery process. On the whole, residents thought this was permissible because it was aid for the community, not individuals. Still, some people had qualm s about it and Mr. Brightwell even claimed that they could have done without the help. In

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101 Chapter T wo I described the tension residents felt between their necessary reliance on the government to spearhead reconstruction and their desire to move forward and achieve a return to normalcy as soon as possible and on their own terms. Briefly, the government and utility companies were responsible for most of the immediate recovery efforts, including debris and sand removal, search and recover y beach renouri shment and road repairs. R esidents were dependent on them perform these tasks before they could start reclaiming their property. Although residents had some complaints about government procedures and bureaucracy, most people were very grateful for their involve ment after Ike. Of my interviewees, Mr. Hardegree was one of the few who spontaneously lamented the departure of the government from the peninsula: I was in pretty good shape until the last couple of weeks actually, once FEMA stopped their effort in pickin g up (debris). I knew at some point we would get to the stage where it had to be the individual and it wasn't going to be a government agency or something like that that was coming in onto the lot picking up a wrecked car or what have you. And, what I can see are pilings, cements slabs, there's bicycles, there's boat trailers, there's whatever haven't touched and FEMA didn't go get it because they didn't h ave permission to go and get it. But, for whatever reason, we're at the point now where it's going to be up to the individuals. And, this is what we're process. It's going to take a long time from now. It's going to take ye ars imagine if we had started that way? I suspect that many other people shared these concerns, even if they were not vocal about them. In part, Mr. Hardegree was a fraid that people, especia lly those who did not live in the area full time would not take up their civic responsibility and clean their property. He was also worried that, without the government there to provide momentum, recovery would come to a standstill. He even implied that t

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102 was catalyzed by government aid, not individual initiative. Most residents recognized that cleaning up their property and the community without outside assistance would be a lifetime of work and gladly accepted any help they could get. Still, they disliked feeling and appearing dependent, a reaction that was particularly acute for inhabitants of FEMAland: I mean even still today if I had money I'd get a RV and put it out there on my property and I'd live there inst ead of here and I'd be fine, because it would be mine. It would be what I worked for. (Marcie Buttrey) live like that. (Iva Corrao) These quotes suggest that accepting personal aid from the government held a stigma tha t did not apply to community wide government funded projects. In other words, as long as the government did an adequate job of clearing debris and reinstating public works and no one complained too much, most residents were satisfied; they were able to foc us on their personal recovery and appear resilient. FEMAland inhabitants did not enjoy this privilege. Although living in FEMAland felt disgraceful to most of the residents I spoke to, Opal Cisco felt her trailer was justified and, more than once, she got into disputes with her friends about this subject: Opal Cisco: Lorraine Roessler: But see, ng instead o f wanting to make entitled.

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103 Opal Cisco: Well, I guess I have an entitlement mentality then because I Opal was able to defend her trailer because she was old, had work ed her whole life, and had never been on welfare; her friends always conceded this to her. On the other hand, recipients of FEMA aid were deemed unworthy if they were thought to have poor work habits, conniving personalities, or drug problems. As evidenced in Chapter F ive, and conversations about independence and resilience almost inevitably included a short diatribe about New Orleans. Residents felt strongly that Hurricane Katrina had affected their re covery insofar To peninsula residents, Katricians embodied the antithesis of the Texan myth. Hoffman explains that it is common for outsiders t 9c: 145). This aptly describes how peninsula residents felt in regard to Katrina survivors, but, of course, they did not think of themselves in the same way. 4 Rather, I believe that by asserting their superiority over Katricians, residents validated their own recovery strategies. 4 ay, as evidenced by reader comments on Ike related stories on the Houston Chronicle website. Readers usually pointed out that it was unfair for people who right

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104 Another excerpt from the above conversation between Loraine and Opal, this time with the addition of Iva, exemplified the kind of discussions residents had about FEMA, Katrina, and the peninsula. Iva and Opal both lived in FEMAla nd sustained only minimal damage. They were friends before the storm and continued to see each other several times a week. I decided to interview them as a group, but, once the conversation got started, I did not have to ask many quest ions: Loraine Roessle r: Management, FEMA, is in such bad shape because of one incident that Opal Cisco : smanagement. That was total mismanagement. Loraine Roessler: funding Katrina. Iva Corrao: Loraine Roessler: Opal Cisco : while we help you Iva Corrao: Opal ? The mentality. Opal Cisco : Noooop e (sarcastic). Iva Corrao: rest of our liv Opal Cisco : place for them to be a permanent resident. Iva Corrao: But when do es the federal government say no? Loraine Roessler: You had no place to go, Iva had no place to go and government assistance in the postdisaster period is to lift the burden of environmental risk from the shoulders of the individuals and communities that, through their behavior, have assumed it, and spread that that most people living in disaster prone areas are not necessarily there by choice, but W observation does hold true for Bolivar.

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105 Opal Cisco : Iva Corrao: when the time comes. Opal Cisco : Loraine Roessler: But you will make plans. Opal Cisc o: This dialogue introduces the three wo men and their opinions so well that it reads like the opening lines of a play. T hey had two main concerns about federal disaster relief and New Orleans. First, they believed that FEMA mismanaged Katrina relief efforts and that they overcompensated many peo ple. Second, they believed that Katricians had an entitlement mentality and that they planned to accept government money as long as residents blamed both FEMA and th Residents cited news reports to authenticate these claims. For example, Channel 2 News out of Houston did an investigative report into the differential treatment afforded to Katrina versus Ike victims: Af ter Hurricane Katrina, 1,080,731 people applied for all types of FEMA assistance. FEMA paid out $5.2 billion in help. The average payment per applicant was $4,860. After Hurricane Ike, 734,130 people applied for FEMA assistance. FEMA paid out $530 million in help. The average payment per applicant was $722. "Until you have the data, you're just another guy with the opinion," said [Texas Governor] Perry. "I'm no longer just a guy with an opinion. Now we have facts that back up Texas is treated differently than Louisiana by two administrations now. That's not right. KPRC Local 2 Investigates: 2009 )

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106 I cannot evaluate whether or not Ike victims were actually treated unfairly in comparison to Katrina victims. The point though, is that peninsula residents b elieved they were, and articles such as this validated their opinion. Residents generally forgave FEMA for their mismanagement of Katrina. They liked to mention that the agency had admitted their mistakes and a surprising number of people claimed that FEM A staff had personally apologized to them for not being able to offer more aid because of their Katrina mishaps: ruined FEMA for the rest of us. You know everybody who even came here everybody I met from FEMA was good people. ( Dallas Brightwell). Bolivar residents and Katricians to me: The difference in the people here is that we got together and started taking care of ourselves instead of sitting on our asses like they did in Katrina: for yourself. (Dallas Brightwell) [FEMA] said they learned th ith this, f stuff. (Margery Saffer) Margery makes an interesting assertion that peninsula residents suffered because they

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107 involved whining and that peninsula residents would no t have exploited FEMA even if they had known how. To conclude this chapter, I want to take a moment to address the racism that of poor, black Katrina victims, which is evident throughout the last two chapters. By dubbing t sadly misinformed. Numerous researchers ha ve examined institutionalized racism in pre and post (Lipsitz 2006: 452; see Gotham and Greenb erg 2008). For example, a nthropologists federal governments precluded the success ful return of many low income, mostly black residents. Indeed, the ways in which low income New Orleans residents suffered at the hands of poor planning, neglect, and greediness on the par t of their elected officials have been widely published. George Lips the perspective of the richest people, the richest corporations, and the most powerful politicians and media outlets in our society, New Orleans must be rebuilt for the convenience of investors, entrepr eneurs, and owners. From this vantage point, the black residents of the city who suffered so terribly during and after the hurricane are not people

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108 foundation for such policies and is therefore responsible for sustaining inequality and ormed and callous. Still, their racist attitudes, which were largely the result of their conservative, southern upbringings, were also indicative of the dissatisfaction they felt towards the g overnment and the media insofar as they diverted some of their f rustration away from these institutions and towards black Katrina survivors.

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109 VOICES (7) I mean t of life. Margery Saffer When we sit downstairs and that breeze comes through there under the house, you look at the Intracoastal Canal and then simultaneously just turn and look at the Gulf of Mexico lifestyle. Liza Calise Mary: Will you do something different the next time there's a big storm? Christa: I'll take more underwear. That's it.

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110 CONCLUSION: THE IMPORTANCE OF PLACE AND BELONGING(S) Underneath their resilience and racism, Bolivar residents were emotional, thoughtful human beings who were deeply wounded by the storm. Human beings are surrounded by layers of trust, radiating out on concentric circles like the ripples in a pond. The experience of trauma, at its worst, can mean not only a loss of confidence in the self but a loss of confidence in the scaffolding of family and community, in the structures of human government, in the larger logics by which humankind lives, and in the way through different lenses. And in that sense they may be said to have experienced (a) a changed sense of self and (b) a changed way of relating to others and (c) changed worldview altogether. (Erikson, i n Hoffman 1999c: 141) the peninsula residents, although in the short time I spent there, I only began to understand the ways in which they experienced these changes. One thing I noticed was that Hurricane Ike caused them to reflect on the meaning and importance they attached to their material belongings and the physical space surrounding them Through this reflection, they reevaluated their relationships with the l andscape and their homes and possessions. Making these conceptual adjustments was difficult, but in the long run it helped them cope with their losses. The Importance of Material Belongings Although placing importance on their material belongings does n ot seem very redemptive, distress was not based solely in the monetary value of their lost possessions They also associated many memories with these items.

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111 I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge that some people were somewhat obsessed with the monetary value of the b e l o n g i n g s that they lost. Resentment brewed between residents who lost different amounts. For example, Iva Corrao who lost everything and was living in FEMAland, and Margery Saffer who lost only a large portion of one of her two hou Iva presented her perspective as well: It really pisses me off when I hear people say that they lost a lawnmower or they lost a tractor, or they lost luggage that was in their shed. I could (pretends to slice her throat). That upsets me when they start. Or like when they start complaining, like they did at water a not very good about their yards Opal and I sitting over there you know. I just wished I had some grass. I wish I had a yard to bitch about. On the other hand, many people expressed gratitude at having lost everything rather than only so me things. That way, they did not have to sort through and reorganize the remnants of their belongings. When I asked Marcie Buttrey if she would do anything different the next time a storm threatened the peninsula, she replied: Nope. I'd probably sit out t here on the porch and wait for it to come and take me. Because I don't want to have to go through this again. And I know, because I didn't have a home I'd have to rummage through trying to salvage things. Some of my friends had to do that. That was really hard on

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112 them. I f I had to do that, I don't think I'd be here talking to you. I would just be absol utely crazy. I just would have given up. As Marcie points out, m any people spent considerable time locating possessions that were strewn literally acros s th e peninsula. When found, these items often took on a new meaning for their owners. For example, Marcie spotted a sequined dress that she was And t hen I looked way out there and I could see on this bare tree out there something really colorful just what in the world, of all this brown, demolished, yuck stuff, what could be out there that's that colorful And it was my dress. So I took it home and washed it. A lot of the sequins are still on there. (Mary: Are you going to keep it?) For a while. This is what I saved. I'm not gonna wear it! But I never got to wear it. I t was something I was so looking forward to Sharlene Deyoe shared a similar story: A friend of mine now a couple of weeks later found a little jacket of mine five or six blocks over and it had my little guardian angel pin on the collar. Well, I was so excited that actually I cleaned up the little pin but the jacket was just in shreds. But, I insisted I had to have it. So, I washed it every day for about six weeks. I don't know if I really got all of the sand out because it was just in shreds like this but I had to keep it. But, now that I'm back, it's real funny. I've finally reached the conclusion now that I'm re ady to give it up. But, at that time it was all I had that I had found or anything. So, it was really precious to me. Now, it's OK. I'm ready to give it up. Incidents such as these emphasized again that Ike did not take everything in its path The st orm seemed to leave behind curious reminde storm lives, which most people cherished. Despite some concern over the monetary value of their losses, most residents expressed that they had accepted that it was just material t they were happy to have their lives and their memories. They were tired of dwelling on the things

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113 that were gone. Opal challenged this oft espoused platitude: life She expanded on her philosophy: For instance, my mom had saved, oh she was a really big saver upper and when she passed away I found an old dress that she had saved that was friend was helping me with it, we went to grade school toge ther, and all these floods of memories came back and we got to giggling about when I wore that and all this and that and another. And it was just history, like you go to a museu m and there are things that are just monetary things your history is gone. And actually, my history is gone. I have to start from September the 13 th forward and regain history. Opal pointed out that, in a way, we are what we own. She also emphasized the way that id ing time into before and after. Not only did the storm go down in history, it also obliterated part s of some histor ies necessitating new beginnings Lynne Crittenden shared her opinion: My friends told me oh, it s and I thought that was really cruel you know but then once I got over the depression and yeah it can be rep I came up with this saying that I just love to share as the tide rolls in life goes on

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114 Landscape and the Importance of Place Hurricane Ike not onl y affected it also removed communal landmarks and, by extension, affected communal histories. The storm severely rearranged s of the peninsula The whole horizon had changed N otably, the saltwater killed off most plant life, leaving the land brown, desolate, and putrid. Residents found this depressing and unnatural As such, the emergence of the first blades of grass brought comfort and joy ; t assured them that the pen insula would eventually recover Calise). Beyond longin g for green ery, the changes in the landscape emphasized the importance of space and place for residents. Giddens discusses how in the modern world, He means that our lives are no longer defined or limited by the places we inhabit. Although people fam found in traditional locale s (146). A t the same time, narratives.

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115 Li dentities even more so after the hurricane. Surveying the destruction, they realized that many of their most cherished memories were associated with specific places that no longer existed: But when a whole, the whole history of a community is completely being an artist me. But I have nothing to show my grandchildren if I have them, my great with A nd the buildings have history behind them all. I great of seeing them on a daily basis or knowing who was there, or when s gone and Losing the map of memories that was inscribed on the landscape was particularly hard on people who grew up on Bolivar but e veryone lament ed the loss of their landmarks. Before Harriet Albro made her fir st return trip, a friend here are no landmarks anymore. I don't know where I am. I'm on the peninsula, and I've been hen you hear someone in their fiftie s a man talk like that, and break o Annab covered with T he clearing of sand and debris and the reinstallation of light poles and street signs largely rectified this problem, but s ome people set up their own landmarks, such as reflectors or handwritten signs to help navigate the peninsula. Rebuilding landmarks,

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116 especially road signs, while obviously practical, also served to reassert the presence of culture in the natural landscape As mentioned in the introduction, in remaking the peni nsula, residents also reinstated the false dichotomy between nature and culture Residents cherished the natural landscape, but the nature Ike left in its wake was considered unacceptable and even unnatural. The greenery they so desperately longed for was not quite the same as the nature that would reemerge on its own. As such, residen ts reestablished a cultured version of nature along with the built environment For example, r esidents who had sufficient financial capacity tried to encourage and direct th by replanting their gardens and trees: himself to feel better, he put grass in. over it. Because everything died and he just insisted on putting everything r finally plants started living. (Hillary Cupri) Throughout Crystal Beach, people found them selves battling with nature p eople wanted to make the land seem lush and productive despite its inability to sustain new growth for months after the stor m. As Iva mentioned before, t he difficulty of lawn cultivation was a popular conversation topic, though much to the chagrin of those without yards Although not everyone had a yard to care for everyone could visit their property to reclaim and redefine t heir space which usually visits to the peninsula Hoffman describes a similar reaction to the Oakland Firestorm : their

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117 lots themselves, u ntil tidy rectangles of delineated lots once again spanned the space Marcie Buttrey explained how she tidied up her lot: and not do anything to my property. I carry a shovel in the back of my car, and when the weeds are just taking ov er, I dig them out, dig out the roots, throw them over to the side of the road. So I've just kept it up like that. Even if I pull just one weed every time I go over the re I've done something to improve my property. (Marcie Buttrey) Many residents not only cleaned their lots, but also put up American flags and signs stating their address. Flags, traditional symbols of conquest, were especially effective at redividing cul ture and nature. Figure 8 : Photos sh

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118 Controlling the return of the dunes including their size and location, was another important component of re cultivating the nature culture divide Partly natural, partly manmade, dunes acted as a barrier against dangerous aspec ts of nature such as storm protected the human environment that was built up behind them Of course, they were flattened by the storm Although they would have eventually return ed on their own, t he county hasten ed this process by installing bales of hay, old Christmas trees, and in some cases, geotube s along the coast. Since the dunes generally coincided with the location of the vegetation line, which marked the beginning of the public beach their return was particularly pertinent for people who owned beachfront property Some of these individual s made efforts to build back dunes in order to protect their property from both the government and the gulf For example, I visited one piece of pro perty where the owners had created an impressive dune, about five feet tall, twenty feet long, covered with beach oats, and surrounded by oleanders. Luis the eccentric artist mentioned in Chapter F ive, commented on this trend: what happens after a storm. The dunes have been washed away many times. A little tropical storm that hits a hundred miles from here washed stuff up into our yard and ruined the dunes. And people, as soon as that happens p ants marching around trying reclaim or actually claim more than their share The beach is gonna do what the beach is gonna do. You know, been and always will be. In the summer of 2009, residents had successfully re made many aspects of both the built and natural environments I believe t hat, even though they lost of the sense of security

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119 more attached to the peninsula as they worked to rebuild and redefine it Despite their considerable progress and optimistic attitudes, I predict that resid ents will be working through a variety of secondary disasters for years to come. On universal stages of disaster recovery proposed by Hoffman. For instance, r ather t han causing them to rethink their choice to live on the coast, Hurricane Ike actually made not occur again in their lifetime. Overall, I agree with Lynne Crittend e as the tide rolls in, life goes on, just in changed ways.

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120 APPENDIX: RECOVERY TIMELINE The following pages contain a timeline of recovery on the peninsula which was or iginally written and printed by Sarah Terry Standridge in her book Hurricane Ike: The Life Stories of the Residents of the Bolivar Peninsula, Texas. The book is a compilation of thirty four stories written by residents who stayed on the peninsula during th e storm. Because it was compiled by a resident, this timeline offers a perspective on which aspects of recovery were the mos t significant on the peninsula:

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132 WORKS CITED AND CONSULTED Anderson, John B. 2007. The Formation and Future o f the Upper Texas Coast. Corpus, Christi, TX: Gulf Coast Studies. Berg, Robbie. 2009. Tropical Cyclone Report: Hurricane Ike. National Hurricane Center. [ AL092008_Ike.pdf ] (Accessed on December 3, 2009) Berke, Philip R. a nd Thomas J. Campanella. 2006. Planning for Postdisaster Resiliency. In The Annals of the American Academy, 604: 192 207. Bolin, Robert and Lois Stanford. 1999. Constructing Vulnerability in the First World: The Northridge Earthquake in Southern Californi a. In Oliver Smith, Anthony and Susanna M. Hoffman, eds. The Angry Earth: Disaster in Anthropological Perspective. New York : Routledge. The Bolivar Blueprint Committee. 2009a. The Bolivar Blueprint. Galveston, TX: The Galveston County Office of Emergenc y Management. [ ctronic.pdf ] (Accessed on May 31, 2009) 2009 b The Bolivar Blueprint Website: About the Blueprint. [ rticle &id=57&Itemid=62 ] (Accessed on January 12, 2009) Breunlin, Rachel and Helen A. Regis. 2006. Putting the Ninth Ward on the Map: Race, Place, and Transformation in Desire, New Orleans. In American Anthropologist 108(4): 744 64. Button, Gregory V. 20 02. Popular Media Reframing of Man Made Disasters. In Hoffman, Susan and Anthony Oliver Smith, eds. Catastrophe & Culture: The Anthropology of Disaster Santa Fe, NM: School of American Research Press. Coman, Mihai and Eric W. Rothenbuhler. 2005. The Prom ise of Media Anthropology. In Rothenbuhler, Eric W. and Mihai Coman, eds. Media Anthropology London: Sage. Daniels, A. Pat. 1985. Bolivar! Gulf Coast Peninsula. Crystal Beach, TX: Peninsula Press of Texas.

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133 Dawdy, Shannon Lee. 2006. The Taphonomy of Dis aster and the Re(Formation) of New Orleans. In American Anthropologist 108(4): 719 730. Douglas, Mary. 1985. Risk Acceptability According to the Social Sciences New York: Russel Sage Foundation. Douglas, Mary and Aaron Wildavsky. 1982. Risk and Cultur e: An Essay on the Selection of Technical and Environmental Dangers. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Dyer, Christopher L. 1999. The Phoenix Effect in Post Disaster Recovery : An Analysis of the of Response after Hurricane Andrew. In Oliver Smith, Anthony and Susanna M. Hoffman, eds. The Angry Earth: Disaster in Anthropological Perspective. New York : Routledge. 2002. Punctuated Entropy as Culture Induced Change: The Case of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill. In Hoffman, Susan and Anthony Oliver Smith, eds. Catastrophe & Culture: The Anthropology of Disaster Santa Fe, NM: School of American Research Press. Hurricane Andrew, t he Culture of Response, and the Fishing Peoples of South Florida and Lousiana. In Oliver Smith, Anthony and Susanna M. Hoffman, eds. The Angry Earth: Disaster in Anthropological Perspective. New York : Routledge. Dynes, Russel R. 1970. Organized Behavior i n Disaster. Lexington, MA: Heath Lexington Books. Ethridge, Robbie. 2006. Bearing Witness: Assumptions, Realities, and the Otherizing of Katrina. In American Anthropologist 108(4): 799 813. Federal Emergency Management Agency. 2010. Coastal Barrier Reso urces System. [ ] (Accessed on December 1, 2009) Fischer, Henry W., III. 1998. Response to Disaster: Fact Versus Fiction and Its Perpetuation Lanham, MD: University Press of America. Fry mer, Paul, et al. 2006. New Orleans is not the Exception. In Du Bois Review, 3(1): 37 57.

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134 Galveston County Office of Emergency Management. 2009. Situation Reports. [] Giddens, Anthony. 1991. Modernity and S elf Identity Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Gotham, Kevin Fox and Miriam Greenberg. 2008. From 9/11 to 8/29: Post Disaster Recovery and Rebuilding in New York and New Orleans. In Social Forces, 87(2): 1039 56. Henry, Doug. 2005. Anthropologic al Contributions to the Study of Disasters. In D. and W. Blanchard, eds. Disciplines, Disasters and Emergency Management: The Convergence and Divergence of Concepts, Issues and Trends From the Research Literature Emittsburg, MD: Federal Emergency Manag ement Agency. [] Hoffman, Susanna M. 1999a. After Atlas Shrugs: Cultural Change or Persistence after a Disaster. In Oliver Smith, Anthony and Susanna M. Hoffman, eds. The Angry Earth: Disaster in Anth ropological Perspective. New York : Routledge. 1999b. Regenesis of Traditional Gender Patterns in the Wake of Disaster. In Oliver Smith, Anthony and Susanna M. Hoffman, eds. The Angry Earth: Disaster in Anthropological Perspective. New York: Routledge. 19 99c. The Worst of Times, the Best of Times: Toward a Model of Cultural Response to Disaster. In Oliver Smith, Anthony and Susanna M. Hoffman, eds. The Angry Earth: Disaster in Anthropological Perspective. New York : Routledge. 2002. The Monster and the Mot her: The Symbolism of Disaster In Hoffman, Susan and Anthony Oliver Smith eds. Catastrophe & Culture: The Anthropology of Disaster Santa Fe NM : Sch ool of American Research Press. Houston Chronicle. 2008. Hurricane Ike: A Photographic Account presented by the Houston Chronicle. Houston, TX: Pediment Publishing. Hooke, William, and Roger Pielke Jr. 2000. Short Term Weather Prediction: An Orchestra in Need of a Conductor. In Daniel Sarewitz, Roger Pielke Jr., and Radford Byerly Jr., eds. Prediction: Scie nce, Decision Making, and the Future of Nature Washington, D.C.: Island Press.

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135 In Cultural Anthropology 21(3): 469 86. Kleinman, A rthur and Joan Kleinman. 1997. T he Appe al of Experience; the Dismay of Images: Cultural Appropriations of Suffering in Our Times. In Kleinman, Arthur et al., eds. Social Suffering. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. KPRC Local 2 Investigates. 2009. Did FEMA Shortchange Ike Victims? [ ] (Accessed on January 25, 2010). Liebes, Tamar and Menahem Blondheim. 2005. Myths to the Rescue, How Live Television Intervenes in History. In Rothenbuhler, Eric W. and Mihai Coman, eds. Med ia Anthropology London: Sage. Lipsitz, George. 2006. Learning from New Orleans: The Social Warrant of Hostile Privatism and Competitive Consumer Citizenship. In Cultural Anthropology 21(3): 451 68. Lule, Jack. 2005. News as Myth, Daily News and Eternal Stories. In Rothenbuhler, Eric W. and Mihai Coman, eds. Media Anthropology London: Sage Refugees: Musings on a American Anthropologist 108(4): 735 43. McCabe, J. Terrence. 2002. I mpact of and Response to Drought among Turkana Pastoralists. In Hoffman, Susan and Anthony Oliver Smith, eds. Catastrophe & Culture: The Anthropology of Disaster Santa Fe, NM: School of American Research Press. Miskel, James F. 2006 Disaster Response and Homeland Security: What Works, What Westport, CT: Praeger Security International. Morgan, David W. et. al. 2006. Finding a Place for the Commonplace: Hurricane Katrina, Communities, and Preservation Law. In American Anthropologist 108(4): 706 18. National Climatic Data Center. 2009. State of the Climate: Hurricanes and Tropical Storms, September 2008. [ cyclones&year=2008&month=9] (Accessed on December 3, 2009)

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