Hurricane Ike, which struck the Texas coast one year ago September 13th, is barely a memory for most of the country. But for the worst-hit parts of Texas, the storm's impact is still felt, and recovery is just beginning. On the Bolivar peninsula, trucks are still carting away the last of 2.2 million cubic yards of debris, reports the Houston Chronicle ("Officials hope Bolivar will be reborn as better place," by Harvey Rice). The storm destroyed 3,593 structures and severely damaged 401, officials said; so far, just 200 construction permits have been issued for the peninsula. In nearby Galveston, recovery is coming faster, according to television station KTRK ("Galveston's west end is hot property," by Cynthia Cisneros). "Since May," reports Cisneros, "beach home purchases have more than doubled. Home sales in Galveston have reached $66 million in the past six months." Rebuilding plans got a boost in August when Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson published a new official "vegetation line" establishing the boundary between the public beach and private land under the Texas Open Beaches Act ("Land Office sets line defining public beach post Ike," by Harvey Rice). Beach erosion can eat away at homeowners' property, and Ike threatened to permanently erase many privately owned lots, preventing owners from rebuilding. But a year after Ike, many owners are glad to find that the new line leaves their land rights largely intact. Among the relieved homeowners is state legislator Wayne Christian, author of a controversial act intended to defend private ownership of beachfront lots on Bolivar, including his own property. He needn't have bothered, Land Commissioner Patterson says: the new line leaves Christian with plenty of room to rebuild his destroyed vacation house. Meanwhile, an effort to overturn the Open Beaches Act on constitutional grounds suffered a loss in the Texas Court of Appeals, reports Brazoria County newspaper The Facts ("Court rules for state in public beach lawsuit," by Nathaniel Lukefahr). Redrawing the line of vegetation after a storm doesn't constitute a "taking" for which owners must be compensated, the three-judge panel unanimously ruled. According to The Facts story, the opinion states: "“This is not a governmental taking because the government did not create the easement that exists seaward of the vegetation line...Rather, the historical dedication of the land seaward of the vegetation line created the easement. The act of nature moved the line of vegetation landward of where the owners’ houses were located; this was not the act of the government.” And far inland from Texas, Ike's aftereffects are still being felt. In central Ohio, reports Columbus television station NBC4i, some roofs remain unrepaired a year after Ike's winds tore off their shingles ("Roof Repairs Linger After Hurricane Ike; Deadlines Loom," by Tanya Hutchins). "Blue tarps remain on roofs," says Hutchins. "Many insurance companies have deadlines of one year to complete repairs."
New public beach boundary maps like this one show the effects of replacing the temporary 4.5-foot elevation line that has been used since Hurricane Ike with a new line (red) that is 200 feet landward of the average daily low tide measured over the past 19 years.