The following is the damage assessment that has been conducted over the past 2 weeks. I went to Galveston Island on Monday and Bolivar on Tuesday with a HCFCD survey team to gather high water marks. I have attached a before picture (taken in May when I was in Galveston for the State Hurricane Conference) and the after (taken on Monday).
The first week after Ike the focus was across SE Harris County as this area was the easiest to reach. High water marks were obtain along Clear Creek from I-45 to Seabrook and then NNE up the NW side of Galveston Bay to Baytown and then up the lower San Jacinto River and W up the Houston Ship Channel. Marks were stopped at various locations along the Ship Channel where the Port of Houston coordinated they would be doing markings. I visited all these area except for Baytown. The data suggest the surge was 11-13 feet on the west side of Galveston Bay including at the heavily damaged Kemah boardwalk. There was almost no visible debris lines outside structures and we gained entry into several houses that remained standing to find good mud marks unaffected by the wave action. We are still putting together an extent map in conjunction with FEMA...but many locations E of HWY 146 and S of Nasa Rd 1 were inundated. The surge was noted in flood hydrographs up Clear Creek to FM 528 and the San Jacinto River to US HWY 90. Horrible damage occurred at Seabrook and Kemah and then again at Shoreacres S of La Porte. Homes in this area were heavily gutted...some collapsed.
Around Clear Lake the surge inundated many structures N of HWY 96 to the Lake and nearly every structure S of Nasa Rd 1...hard hit was Nassau Bay where several homes had 3-4 feet of water...wave action was reduced and the structures while flooded were not gutted.
E Galveston County:
I surveyed the portion of Galveston County from the TX City dike to Kemah including San Leon and Bacliff. The damage was extensive along the beach front with heavy wave action damage to all first tier homes...many were completely destroyed. Surge values ranged from 12-14 feet at all locations in Galveston County. Once again most mark were taken inside standing structures. Air survey of the TX City dike showed wave overtopping on the west side due to the intense S eyewall. The dike was not overtopped by the surge...Galveston County is conducting 65 marks on the levee.
Intense WSW flow ripped all the structures in the town of Freddiesville to pieces and pushed them up against the TX City dike. The towns of Bayou Vista and Tiki Island were heavily damaged...mainly the break away floors and buildings on the ground...wave action looked muted in this region. Hundreds of boats were pushed onto the I-45 traffic lanes both north and south of the causeway.
80-90% of the Island was inundated. The worst damage was along the backside of the Island near Moody Gardens and the Airport, on the west end and the far east end. Very fast WSW flow affected the backside of the Island. Debris was wrapped around poles facing the WSW as the water must have been trying to escape through San Luis Pass...all that was flowing across Bolivar. The surge was 8-11 feet on the back side...there was little wave damage...but the high velocity flow resulted in heavy gutting of structures along Offouts Bayou.
On the west end...extreme wave action and heavy beach erosion and undermining. After the seawall 3-6 story condos where undermined...I could walk under them. A few homes along the first tier were lost on the west end..others will be torn down. The undermining was extensive all the way to San Luis Pass. We estimated at least 200 ft of beach and all the dunes were lost...now piled along 3005. Tammarra Beach was heavily damaged along with Jamaica Beach...but most homes remained standing. The erosion in some places was 4-6 feet below where the slab use to be.
Galveston E end: Estimated surge of 12-15 feet. The seawall was overtopped from Ferry Rd to the east end of the Island. The seawall was not overtopped along the main parts...although large rocks at its base were lofted by the wave action and placed on top of the seawall near the 1900 Storm Memorial. There was significant wave overtopping, but only a few structures appeared to take on any water. East beach structures were heavily damaged and at the far east end the fishing houses were gone...all I found was a 3 foot cinder box wall left. The concrete picnic tables were sheared in half and nearly buried under sand...but the brand new housing development survived the surge and waves...if the wave could not reach it...it survived.
We returned back through UTMB...all flooded and the by the Strand and Pier 21 all flooded...estimating around 10 feet.
I have only seen destruction of this magnitude once before…in the Double Creek subdivision at Jarrell, TX after the F5 tornado in 1997.
We picked up the surge line on HWY 124 17 miles inland from the coast. From that point on...the marshy dead fields were full of lumber and stuff...all from Bolivar. We passed High Island...which did not flood...it is about 20-30 feet above sea level.. and then entered Bolivar on HWY 87.
Except for 4 homes...all of Rollover Pass was wiped...not even the pilings remained. We stopped at a cell tower station and tried to obtain a mark. We climbed to the top of the steel deck where the generator was running and did not find any debris...about 22 feet off the ground. However the large bolts holding the generator in place were sheared off..only two remained...we think from the wave action.
It was the same all the way down to the Ferry Landing were we obtained a 16 foot mark inside the TXDOT Ferry Landing building...inside a back room...sand was inside the hanging lights.
At Crystal Beach it looks like the first two tiers of beach front homes were mostly destroyed. I would estimate at least 1000-1500 homes were completely destroyed, the rest left standing have major damage, and only a few have minor damage.
By far the most stunning images were hundreds of cars and trucks spread across the marsh area half buried in sand. I cannot image anyone who stayed survived...
We marked two more cell towers and the Post Office in Crystal Beach (4" inside).
We then traveled to Smith Point and Oak Island... obtained a 13-15 foot surge line at Smith Point...and still waiting on the data back from Oak Island...the surge topped the bluff along FM 563 which is nearly 20 feet elevation...dead cattle lined the now dry ditches.
Also noted extensive wind damage E of Smith Point N along FM 563. Entire sections of pines and oaks snapped and uprooted...all points NW or WNW...eyewall winds I suppose.
From the preliminary data the surge looks highest in the head of Trinity Bay and the mouth of the Trinity River were the I-10 bridge was overtopped. Would estimate possible 20' in this region. Across Bolivar and most of Chambers County a 14-17 foot surge.
A 10-14 foot surge affected the BPT area and the surge was about 1-3 feet higher in SW LA than what happened during Rita. The surge at Sabine Pass was a record breaking that of Audrey in 1957.
The pictures do not tell the story...the vast amount of destruction will put Ike in the resting place of great storms such as Carla and 1900. In fact the surge elevations on Galveston are the highest since 1915 and 1900...something not experienced in our lifetime.