Hurricane Ike has passed, but its effects can still be felt by citizens of Galveston Island which suffered a direct hit from the category two hurricane early September 13th. While many residents fled the island for shelters on the mainland, others chose to stay, they all now must deal with the aftermath of the storm and the clean up it will require. Residents of Galveston are being barred from returning to the remnants of their homes. The storm forced a wall of water over the Island, sweeping out the contents of the lower floors of hundreds of homes, many of which were over a hundred years old. While the vintage buildings added to the charm of the island, debris from them is now posing a hazard from the asbestos they contained. The storm surge mixed together home debris, asbestos, animal carcasses, and fecal matter in a toxic mud that makes returning home not an option for those who left. Separating this poisonous matter from other storm debris will take time, and it is just the first of many measures which must be taken before
Galvestonians can safely come home to begin rebuilding. Such a clean-up effort could take more than a year, and electricity and natural gas services could be out for up to a month. Water flow could be restored in as little as a couple of weeks. Due to the dangers and the delay in returning utilities to the island, those who chose not to evacuate are being asked to leave. Their generators could pose a fire or electrocution danger and the city currently lacks medical and fire services to provide for residents. Mosquitoes are also becoming a problem in the waterlogged island. Testing of the water and mud for contaminants will begin this week by the Environmental Protection Agency. Results will determine the best course of action to take in its disposal.