16 July 2009

A Sad, Sad Tale of Ike

 

Last August I took you on a photo tour (here) of this historic neighborhood in Galveston, Texas – a barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico, a quick 50 miles from Houston.   The trees were as amazing as the houses, maybe even more so.  A house can always be replaced; a tree – it’s not as easy.

 

 

image Galveston’s beautiful East End National Historical District – August, 2008.   Towering, majestic Live Oak trees cast large shadows on the manicured lawns.

 

 

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Live Oaks and oleanders – Galvestonians favorite landscape.

 

imageThese Live Oaks have grown so large, the house is barely visible.  

 

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The large limbs grow twisted from the constant harsh Gulf winds.

 

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We even went inside one of the century old beauties (here.)  This house, owned by friends, is full of linen slipcovers and seagrass.  What’s not to love?

 

Last summer after Hurricane Dolly practically destroyed South Padre Island, my family vacationed on Galveston Island instead, just a quick hour away from Houston.  Of course, Hurricane Edouard chased us back home a week early, just in time to greet the fury of Hurricane Ike.   It wasn’t exactly a great summer for the Webb Family, but we have nothing to complain about.  Ike was horrible to Bolivar and Galveston.  Horrible.    Katrina may have gotten all the publicity but Ike was just as terrible.   I digress.   Before Ike and Edouard, when I was all carefree and thrilled to be in Galveston,  I took you on a photo tour of the historical districts – notable for their century old houses that survived the Great Storm of 1900.   After that devastating storm, survivors rebuilt the city and planted thousands of Live Oak trees.   Grown from just a tiny acorn, those Live Oaks have flourished, creating lush canopies over Galveston's streets and offering cool shade from the stifling summer heat.   These majestic trees cast large shadows over the lawns and concrete and add an undeniable air of romance and southern charm to the older neighborhoods.  Where these areas were once neglected and all-but abandoned, they are now teeming with life and activity, having undergone intensive revitalization.   Awarded for all the hard work with the National Historic District designation, great effort and care has been taken to preserve the character and authenticity of the neighborhoods.    Today, these historical district are now the most sought out places to live on the island.

Last August, I drove up and down these verdant streets, taking photographs of houses - some so obscured by the Live Oaks, they could be barely be seen.   Each house, one after another, was more beautiful than the next.   To find a favorite was an impossible task.   Galveston’s East End and New Orleans’ Garden District look very similar and share many characteristics – architecture, the Live Oaks, but hurricane destruction may be the most obvious one.  What Katrina did to New Orleans, Hurricane Ike did to Galveston – except it didn’t happen on the 24/7 news channels.   Some of the worst damage caused by Ike was subtler than Katrina’s and it wasn’t immediately obvious.   Yes, there was a great mess and many houses were destroyed.   Boats landed on highways, miles from their slips, as if people had driven them there like cars.  Landmark beach shops on piers that hovered over the Gulf were entirely washed away – shocking those of us who had been their customers since we were children.    But, the debris was quickly cleaned up.   Houses were fixed and rebuilt.   Lives changed, but life goes on.  

 

 

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The dense canopy of Live Oaks shades the streets and the yards – creating a Southern, mysterious, and romantic atmosphere.

 

Yes, buildings and houses can be restored after a hurricane.   But how do you replace something that is over 100 years old; something that grows from tiny to huge – a process that takes decades, not just a few months or years?      You can’t just replace some things overnight, it is out of man’s control.     You see, to understand the real damage of Ike, how Ike truly destroyed Galveston, you have to understand this:    all these gorgeous Live Oak trees with their wide reaching canopies that give the East End – and the entire island of Galveston - its most beautiful natural resource, after the beach,  are now all dead.   Dead.    Killed by the salt spray brought on by Ike or by the subsequent fungus that drove in the final nail if the salt didn’t kill them first.

 

 

 

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Broadway, the once beautiful boulevard that welcomes all visitors – dead tree, after dead tree, after dead tree – as far as the eyes can see.

 

It’s hard to even write this, much less think about it – surely to see it and live it must be utterly heart breaking.   If you don’t go visit, if you don’t witness it first hand, did it really happen?     Forty one thousand, yes, you read that correctly, 41,000 Live Oak trees were killed by Hurricane Ike last September, and they are all coming down.  The only Live Oaks getting a reprieve are those that have 30 percent new leaf growth – anything less, is history.   Eighty percent of the tree canopy in Galveston is gone.   I haven’t seen it yet.  I’m pretending it still looks like it did last summer.    It’s really hard to imagine that in one year – all those gorgeous Live Oaks are now dead.   Driving around last August, happily trying to capture their beauty for you – it never occurred to me, not in a million thoughts, that in one month – all those trees would be dead.

 

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To truly understand the oddity of this photograph – you must realize that Live Oaks do not lose their leaves during winter – they remain green and leafy all year.    Thus, a Live Oak is rarely, if ever, seen without its leaves.  The only time a Live Oak looks like this, is if it is dying.  

 

For the past year, Galveston and many different forestry organizations have been conducting surveys of all the island’s trees.  Originally they tried to save as many as they could,  attempting to leech the salt out of the root systems.    Nothing worked.  In fact, statistically, the Live Oaks were considered somewhat hardy against Ike, 40 percent survived.   In comparison - all but 12 percent of the island’s magnolias and pecans died after Ike.   Sycamore, mulberry and river birch were entirely wiped out at 100%.    The island’s flowering symbol – the oleander proved strong, 60 percent survived.   Palm trees won the prize though – only 8 percent didn’t make it.  

Despite the heroic efforts to salvage as many trees as possible, the dying and dead ones are now public hazards – in another storm, with their damaged root systems, they could become hurtling projectiles and most would end up crashing through roofs, causing untold death and destruction.  They need to be cut down before another big hurricane comes, and quickly.   FEMA is paying  for the tree removal – if – if they are cut down before September 12th, so the rush is now on. 

 

 

 

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Galveston will never look the same in my lifetime, but my grandchildren will one day enjoy the cool shade from a Live Oak in the East End.

 

 image  City workers are seen leeching salt from the ground in a futile attempt to save the Live Oaks. 

 

To remove large Live Oak trees like these, the cost starts at over $1,000.  Many of Galveston’s residents are in the lower income bracket and could never afford the cost of the tree removal without the government’s  help – so Galveston is frantically trying to comply with the September 12th deadline.  There is now a mad rush to get all 41,000 Live Oaks cut down on FEMA’s dime.   Desperate to save their own trees, residents are calling in, claiming to see new growth.   The cut-off for a death sentence is if there is 30 percent new growth, but very few oaks have gotten the reprieve.   11,000 of the Live Oaks are on public lands, and the remaining 30,000 will be cut from private property.  Visitors to Galveston are well familiar with the towering trees that line Broadway - the grand parkway onto the island.  These grand Live Oaks and the colorful flowering oleanders evoke deep emotions in both the citizens of Galveston and its tourists, many of whom have visited the island each summer of their life.    In order to relieve the emotion and anxiety – it has been decided that the Live Oaks lining Broadway -  a symbol of Galveston almost as strong as the Gulf of Mexico - will be cut down last, after the tourist season is over.

 

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Last month as the first tree was felled by FEMA – this resident was photographed wiping away tears – after all, her father had planted the tree from a tiny acorn.   One person left this note on a tree scheduled to fall:   “Thanks for keeping us cooler and cleaner and standing without complaint for years and years.  Goodbye.”

 

 

image  Driving onto the island on Broadway will be a shock to tourists used to seeing all the green and leafy Live Oaks and flowering oleanders.   These trees will be cut down last – after tourist season is over – in a effort to relieve anxiety.  

 

 

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What a disaster.  

 

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It’s like there was a fire, yet the houses were not burned.

 

 

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The Live Oaks are dead, but the palm is healthy and thriving.  Galveston is planning to replant Live Oaks – citing the fact that 60% of the Live Oaks withstood Ike’s fury.  Palms on the other hand lost only 3 percent of their ranks.

 

 

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Just to give you an idea of Ike’s  physical destruction, this debris is on the seawall.  The beach is at the right.  The tattoo parlor stands, as does the palm.

 

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One of the stranger sights were the boats lined up on the main causeway leading into Galveston.  It was as if someone had driven them on the road.

 

 

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Just north of Galveston is Bolivar Peninsula – an area filled with beach houses, as you can see here right before Ike hit.  Bolivar received the worst of Ike’s wrath.  It is a true human and animal tragedy that happened there that night.  

 

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A week after – nothing much is left between the two houses.  In Houston, we are lucky – 50 miles away, we just have to deal with wind gusts and rising water and no electricity, nothing like what these poor souls faced.   We are praying that this season will be a Hurricane-Free summer. 

 

 

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And finally, last year, I wrote about our own Water Oak tree (here),  how it had gotten sick and today, despite all our efforts, it’s future is still unknown.  I lamented the loss of one tree, albeit a gorgeous, tall, sheltering tree and the primary reason we chose to buy this lot in the first place.   It’s hard for Ben and I to imagine what it will be like if we have to take it down.   The subject of the tree upsets us both greatly and it is something we avoid discussing.    But, it’s just one tree.   What pain the homeowners in Galveston must be going through as they watch their leafless trees cut down this summer.  The Historical Districts are going to be so different now, so bare, so naked, so bright without the shade and shadows cast by the tall Live Oaks.   I know that I, and probably most people do too, take our trees for granted, expecting them to be here forever.  But trust me, it can change within one short month. 

77 comments:

  1. Oh Joni I loved this post! I have wondered about your tree. There is still hope it will be alright. Galveston will look so different but the strength of it's residents will prevail and be the new beauty of that city.

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  2. This post breaks my heart. The loss of a tree is always hard, but having one fall on your house could be way worse a fate. We have a few old oaks around the perimeter of our house and are in constant fear of being flattened our sleep.

    Good luck with your oak and to everyone dealing with Ike's wake. Let's all plant a tree this weekend.

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  3. Joni, I'm so sad over the trees. You don't realize the importance of them until they are gone. You gave them a wonderful tribute.

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  4. So sad. I'm in Louisiana where we have faced our fair share of hurricanes. It never gets any easier to see the wreckage. But it does make me thankful !

    { Lindsey }
    http://greatfullday.blogspot.com

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  5. I ahve tears in my eyes as I write this, it really moved me... It's just so horrible. No one who doesn't live or visit there even thinks about this side of things. Thank you for opening my eyes to just how far the loss goes

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  6. Wow, I didn't realize that could truly be so depressing- dying trees. My heart goes out to that city for all the disaster it has been through.

    We have to cut down a giant oak tree in our front yard which was brought from Oklahoma to California in a tin can back in 1945. I can't bear it.

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  7. God, this breaks my heart. I love my trees here - our cottage sits in a forest of old trees - and I couldn't begin to imagine life without them. I had no idea the salt would do this. I thought if they survived the hurricane blast they would be okay. This is just so sad.

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  8. Oh Joni, how sad... the loss of any tree especially one with the age of those oaks is just too depressing for words. We've had 2 storms back to back the past 2 weeks and have lost yet another tree. It wasn't the age of the great oaks, but the sadness is certainly there. Now we are down to one lone Bradford Pear and a Redbud tree... It is amazing the strength Mother Nature has. hugs ~lynne~

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  9. I am so sorry. Please accept my condolences.

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  10. I've been reading your blog for a while and was finally compelled to comment. I'm a Yankee transplant to Texas, living in Austin. My fiance and I spent a weekend in Galveston earlier this year. It was my first time there and I found it to be such a charming town. I can't tell you saddened I am to read about the loss of the trees. As a child, I was always distressed when my father did any trimming of our trees - so the very idea of thousands of these majestic trees wiped away is so sad. I hope that the resiliency of the Galveston residents continues to see them through their rebuilding efforts.

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  11. This post makes me weep!! I live here on the Island and have been inside many of the homes you featured as my friends' parents have lived or still live in them. My favorite one is the ivory manse you showed first. That one is owned by UTMB and serves as the hospital CEO's home. The bright yellow one is across the street from my place.
    The utter devastation of Ike on the trees and flora of the Island is of unparalleled proportion. I hope this year's hurricane season is pleasantly uneventful to say the least. Thanks for shining a light on this terrible happening.

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  12. I remember seeing the live oaks of Galveston when I visited there in '92, and of course I imagined the beautiful live oaks on North and South Blvd in Houston, which define those roads, just as the live oaks of Galveston defined their town in many ways. The newspapers focus on the effects of a hurricane in the days after, but for those who don't live there, life goes on, and the next big story comes up. I had no idea that this was going on in Galveston.

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  13. This was a beautifully written post about something many of us do take for granted. And to see such devastation on a large scale brings it home. My parents had a tree on their lot that had to be taken down last year and it was really, really sad. It was the last big, leafy tree they had. All else was scrub pine (a knarled Cape Cod tree that holds up to salt air I guess) and some flowering ornamental trees. But nothing beats the tree that's been there for decades.

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  14. Thank you for sharing Joni....
    I can relate a little as it was just over a year ago that we had that "Ice Storm" come through Tulsa and rid our fair city of it's historic and established trees as well. Not too long before Christmas, in fact I put up a tree & took it down all in 48 hrs that year, as we were lucky to have power but alas like you stated the worst damage was our beautiful Midtown area and the Older home & Historical districts hit the hardest.
    We have two large Oak trees outside our home that shade our lawn in the Summer months and as we sat in bed that morning you could literally hear the crack, boom.....drop,drop crash of trees, limbs and both on homes and vehicles. I ran out to move our cars that morning after unfreezing the door handles.
    And not a minute too soon, 5 minutes after, our driveway was covered in limbs....we were pretty lucky, but needless to say over 8 trips to our farm with an 18 feet trailer pilled high with brush, we finally removed the debris.
    We had many crews come into town and some nice fellows from Tennessee, ( this is funny they were James Webb)we had a bulldozer in the front yard, landscaping gone and over $2000 in tree removal expenses.
    Anyhow, I guess I am saying that I understand, we though we were going to lose our one tree. It was the last to bloom this spring, and I thought it was done, but it is green ( half of the tree is full the other half is growing).
    I would so miss those trees if they had been lost.
    Thanks for the post,
    Leslie

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  15. Gosh..that is just so sad, and thank you for writing about the trees. We most surely take them for granted. I love trees, we couldn't breathe without them and they seem to have a soul of their own that you can feel, especially when you are amongst the older majestic trees. We all need to pitch in, even if it's only a little to begin with,to take care of our Earth. These storms just seem to get worse and worse as her fever (global warming) worsens.

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  16. I did not realize the damage the trees sustained, but given the salt water... it makes sense- well, sort of (disasters never truly make sense). Thank you for opening my eyes to this- so sad for the Live Oak trees- some of my favorite pieces of the South.

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  17. I am not your average gardener. Sucked in at first by pretty, I soon gave in to the majesty of trees. I tell my husband I am growing oxygen. And yes, in those hideous transitions: ice, winds, microbursts, you hear the trees sway and moan and creak and sometimes fall. Flowers are fleeting, but trees are our compact with the future. And, as you say, it will begin again.Not in your lifetime. But again. So sorry for you heartfelt loss.

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  18. I think I will go out at plant some trees in my yard this spring. MB

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  19. Wow Joni, another great post. I didn't know that the tree situation in Galveston was so dire. What a heartbreak. I cannot imagine life on the Gulf Coast with out live oaks, I just can't imagine it.

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  20. Thank you for writing this post. Galveston has a special place in my heart. As a child, my family traveled there often. I have wondered how the city was and wanted to see pictures, but have not found any online. I loved the tourist shops on piers and have special little items that I brought home every year.

    It is so sad to see such a beautiful place destroyed by the wrath of a hurricane.

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  21. Absolutely unreal. I truly wonder how the air quality has changed as well. Wonder if there have been any studies showing the difference that's bound to be? Sad, sad situation. I do hope that your tree makes it.

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  22. Joni, this makes me want to cry. I love live oaks, and this is SO sad. We have friends who own a B&B there, and they are happy that it's finally open again. But oh, how my heart aches for them and the other residents after seeing this about the live oaks.

    Regarding water oaks, I will tell you something. After watching the huge water oak in our yard go over and take out another water oak with it a few weeks ago, seeing the damage it did even thougth it just skimmed my neighbor's house, seeing how shallow their root system is, and knowing that they have about a 50 year life span, I have to say that I'm glad they are all out of our yard. I adored them, but they really are not the trees you want.

    I was traumatized after we had to take out four last year, and one died on its own. That's five. These two went down, and I took out the lone survivor afterwards. Our yard is scalped, but we plan to replant. Just not water oaks. The one in the front yard that kept dropping limbs (which we took out last year) had rotted from the inside out. I could not believe my eyes when they cut it down, and I saw the trunk. It was hollow. Another had boring beetles.

    If you can get up the nerve, you are better off without a water oak in your yard. The one that went down in our back yard was from all appearances a healthy tree. All it took was this wind, and then whamo! And they fall hard. It scared me to pieces. Of course, the same wind took out a tree two houses up, and it cracked the huge water oak next door which was leaning from one neighbor's yard toward the other neighbor's house. Thankfully, they took it out as well as another one with boring beetles last week.

    XO,

    Sheila :-)

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  23. So heartbreaking. A long term symbol of all they've had to go through. Marybeth has the only solution, to look forward and plant more trees in memory of the past, and with hope for the future. I can remember the elms dying at my college(my dad was a teacher there first, so I was 5), but now, the maples they finally replanted them with have become large and full. It doesn't look the same, but it does help.

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  24. Truly sad to see all the devastation. Those were some magnificient trees. I hope they will plant new ones back in their place so maybe, several generations from now, they'll be seeing the same beauty that is now lost.
    Susan

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  25. Such a sad situation. You are so right...houses and buildings can be rebuilt, but you can't rebuild a tree. I have seen hurricanes, tornados, ice storms, fire, and we even lived in Portland, Ore. when Mt. St. Helen's blew. The power of nature is truly awesome. I'm sorry for all the beauty and shade the folks in that area have lost. May newly planted ones stay strong and stand tall.
    marcie

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  26. So sad. I had to find a silver lining. Thankfully, a museum will be using 6 truckloads of the wood to restore old ships, and other trees will be made into art projects and sculptures.
    http://www.galvestondailynews.com/story.lasso?ewcd=dc8ac2bdb416783e

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  27. I had read about this back a bit & it still saddens me so. Many times people forget the devastation to wild life & habitats via hurricanes. Ironically, as you've brilliantly shown, it takes far longer to re-sustain the flora & fauna than to build a house.
    Trees can never be duplicated either.
    I lost a beloved maple to an ice storm & all the next summer I missed the curvy branch I hung lanters on & the kids missed the perfect crook to lay in.

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  28. Every year our family visits Galveston Island. We've been going there since we were teenager's. I have SO many memories of the island's beauty. The homes always took my breath away as we drove by them. Now that most of those trees will be gone will be such a loss to this wonderful vacation spot. Hurricanes come and go and we sometimes forget what devastation is left behind. Thanks for the reminder that there are still people hurting in this town.

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  29. What a sad story. This explains a little of what I feel whenever I see a tree cut down for no reason.
    -Lana

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  30. Joni, It breaks my to see all the trees dead and dying. I know first hand the destruction of Hurricane Ike, My brother lost everything at Crystal Beach and my Daughter's beautiful beach front house she had sold three weeks before was wiped off the map. My place where I lived before marrying Roy was damaged and we tried to buy it back, No luck.
    But the spirit is there and everything is coming back.

    Thanks for the update. I will be headed to Galveston soon I hope.

    Barbara

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  31. Thank you for writing about this. I did not know about this devastating situation - this is something you hardly hear in the news. I knew about the horrible damages Ike left but not about the additional loss of so many wonderful old trees. Very sad!
    Petra

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  32. It is very sad. My parents' house was hit by a tornado or downburst several years ago. Thankfully nobody was hurt, but the devastation of their property was hard to look at. My Mom still mourns some of the large trees they lost.

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  33. Hi Joni~
    Truly such a Sad Tale! So true...trees are not replaceable...homes are. We in the suburbs of Chicago have been sprayed for gypsy moss (???) by rows of helicopters for a few days at the start of this season. So sad to think trees get sick too. I hope your tree makes it, such a beauty!

    Miss Kris

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  34. What a beautiful poignant and heartbreaking story of Galveston's loss. Thanks for jolting us all into a heightened sense of appreciation of our landscape. Today - I'm going to give a hug and a pat to the grand old mesquite in our front yard!

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  35. I enjoyed the post. I have enjoyed seeing the small tropical outlook map that you had last summer on the blog. Please put it back. Did you get it from NOAA?

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  36. just so sad... it's affected me and i've never even been there so i can't even imagine the loss the residents must be feeling...

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  37. This is so sad and to think these Live Oaks have stood their ground for so many years. They survived the wind of Hurricanes like it was a breeze, that it was the salt water saturating their roots that did them in.
    They will be missed and we will not see the Island, as it should be, in our life time.
    Along with this, you said that the Palms, for the most part are doing OK. Well I don't know if you heard that there is an Arsonist torching them. Makes me sick, like the people on the Island don't have enough to deal with.

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  38. We took our first summer vacation after we were married 32 years ago in Galveston. It was our first time there so we went on all the tours of the homes, churches etc..We continued going there over these last 32 years taking our children for short trips before school started, I've always loved driving in under the beautiful tree canopy. It is sad but I am thankful for the people who are staying and trying to rebuild!
    Tina

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  39. This is horrible...I had no idea. I know the little house my husband and I used to rent every May is gone. I never even thought about the trees.

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  40. Hi Joni,
    Thanks for writing this post and highlighting the devastation that mother nature can have. I had no idea that these beautiful trees are dead. What a terrible loss to the residents of Galveston. Thinking of you all.

    Take care Joni

    Janine
    XXOO
    Tasmania, Australia

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  41. Joni, that is truly so sad to lose all those trees in just a short time. Very sad! I really hope your tree will survive too. I remember when you mentioned it earlier last year.

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  42. That is just heartbreaking. I had no idea. Thank you for writing about this, and I hope your little tree makes it out okay!

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  43. Thank you for this post! Galveston suffered large loss of property (including my aunt's home) and it is a shame it is so often overlooked.
    South Padre Island I am happy to say is recovering nicely from Dolly, as it didn't take a square hit.
    In some ways Dolly was a blessing and has forced some of the older hotels and condos to remodel (and it was much needed).
    Here is to a hopefully quiet hurricane season!

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  44. Joni, thank you so much for this post. Live Oaks are my favorite trees and it makes me so sad to think of Galveston without them. It's such a shame to think of the damage caused by Ike, but it is incredibly sad to think of Galveston without her beautiful canopy of trees.

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  45. Oh, Joni! You know I'm crying reading your post today! It's heartbreaking about all the destruction Ike did to our island! It really hits you in the face when you drive down Broadway and see the big ORANGE marks on the trunks of the trees that will be cut down! We have been watching and waiting since the storm for the growth to come back on the trees! Galveston will be forever different, like you said ~ in my lifetime anyway!

    We have some huge oak, not live oak, as they do drop their leaves in the winter, in our front yard and we cherish them. We were so concerned they might be gone after the storm. God blessed us and we just happen to be on one of the highest places on the island and were spared any salt water. So our trees are doing wonderfully!

    I hope your tree can be saved!

    Things are still moving pretty slowly here in Galveston. Have some friends whose homes are sill not ready to move back into! We're fortunate and we're blessed.

    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia :(

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  46. Joni, it seems we do take a lot for granted, here in Kansas City, even tornadoes have not affected the city and suburbs for years and years. (Mostly outlying towns sadly) Which is how long it takes for trees to mature to great beauty. I remember when Hallbrooke Farms was developed, and I felt despite the gorgeous homes and golf course,it had that "blanched in the sun look". Now twenty five years later the landscape is lush and mature.

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  47. Joni, thanks so much for sharing this. Truly devastating. I'm sorry that the landscape of Galveston will be so dramatically altered for years to come, but hopefully there will be more trees to plant and sprout and hopefully renew the town's spirits.

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  48. Thank you Joni for such a poignant post...I imagine them as Narnian trees, valiant guards of the Island against the storm and we do mourn their loss, their gallant fight and the beauty the bestowed upon us for generations. We will honor them with new trees that we will nurture and grow and stand in awe at God's creation when we, and our children, and our grandchildren, and their children, rest beneath their shade.

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  49. Your post tore at my heart strings! My prayers are with the families that still suffer great sorrow and loss. May their hearts heal and be filled with God's great love.

    "Growth means change and
    change involves risk, stepping
    from the known to the unknown."
    - author unknown

    xo,
    cristin

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  50. Very sad to see all the beautiful old trees dead and dying. But, the barrier islands are there for a reason - they buffer the mainland from storms. As much as the residents want a Galveston with live oaks lining the streets they will always be disappointed eventually when mother nature has her way. It was inevitable that the soil would become salty and inhospitable to the non-native species like the live oaks.

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  51. Joni,

    It is a tragic loss to Galveston. Live oaks are the most beautiful trees in the world to me. Nothing compares to their huge, branching beauty. I live in an older suburb in Spring which is known for its beautiful old trees. We lost so many during Ike, four live oaks in my neighbors yard alone. I live surrounded by 29 trees, many of them pine, but the shade & the peace they give to me is invaluable. Thanks for the beautiful post. We don't get much TV air time in Texas for our tragedies b/c we as Texans & as a State don't moan & groan. We pull ourselves up by the bootstraps and go on. East & SE Texas suffered a horrible fate from Rita then again from Ike but major news outlets never go there. Orange County, Sabine Pass, Fannett, High Island, Chambers County all suffered horribly and many were denied anything by FEMA. Tragic

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  52. Ok, that post broke my heart.

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  53. So sad. God gives us so many gifts to brighten our lives: trees, flowers, air, and so much more...... it is right to grieve the passing of our friends.

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  54. Every other year my family and I head to Myrtle Beach, SC, my home town. We stop half way thru and stay at the Best Western in Biloxi. Last summer we drove into Biloxi and I got out of the car on the main beach blvd and sat down on what once a beautiful antebellum home and touched my heart...I cried...so sad...I can hardly imagine the main locals go thru seeing this every day..

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  55. I haven't had the courage to go down there yet. The Coastal Living idea home beckons a visit but somehow I just can't bring myself to go. I didn't realize this about the trees...now sitting here in tears, I don't know when I will go. Their economy needs our visits but....so heartbreaking.

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  56. A SAD ... SAD .... SCENE !!!!!

    When I was viewing your pics, I could hear Glenn Campbell's (this is sure dating me) sond in the background (Galveston old Galveston).

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  57. I've lurked the site for a very long time. This post made me cry. - A Floridian who knows only too well the vagaries of the storms.

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  58. There are still tears in my eyes, as I write this comment.

    Those who have never lived with the grand live oaks will never realize what a vital part of life they are in the deep south. Thanks for pointing out the fact that Ike was much overlooked in the mainstream press -
    primarily because it spared N.O.
    My daughter, in Baton Rouge, maintains the effects there were MUCH worse than Katrina... . . especially with their tree loss.

    Let us all keep praying for this years' storms to be mild.

    Jjjjj

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  59. Joni- this post hit really closed to home. Having lived in Miami my whole life, I have more than my share of experiences with hurricanes. I lost my grandfather in fact during Hurricane Andrew in 1992. The worst of it's kind. It takes a lot for a community to recuperate from such a terrible devastation. I still pray everynight for everyone that lost their family memebers duing Katrina and Ike. It's hurricane season here in FL, and I would love to ask all the readers to keep us on their prayers.

    P.S. On a happier note, don't forget to participate in my giveaway for a chance to win one of two lovely glass paperweights from Punch Studio.

    Have a wonderful weekend!

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  60. oh my, I had no idea. Unbelieveable. It doesn't seem real, that many trees have to be destroyed. So sad.

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  61. So sad to lose so many trees of such grand stature. I can only imagine the loss and grief the residents of that area are feeling. What a year they have had on top of everything else our country is experiencing.

    Just discovered your blog and I love it. I’m an Oregonian, but have recently bought a house in the suburb of Dallas, Flower Mound. Can’t wait to move there and start putting some of your decorating ideas in place.

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  62. We live in Seabrook, just a stone's throw from Galveston. We lost so many trees and homes from Ike. Hopefully this will be a quiet hurricane season.

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  63. These photos are truly heartbreaking to see. One really must experience Mother Nature's furry to understand her wrath.


    Back in 1988 for a total of six days (Jan. 4-10th); Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic provinces of Canada were literally cloaked in 'ice'. Though the landscape was majestic in appearnce, the damage was also overwhelming. In our case however; 'the mighty Oaks' were the foremost survivors.
    -Brenda-

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  64. Heartbraking, truly. To lose all of these grand old oaks at once is devistsating. We have huge elm trees in our neighborhood all over Sacramento that are slowly succumbing to elm beetles. They are disappearing one by one. But the replacements seem to be growing quickly.
    This is just too sad.

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  65. Joni,
    Thanks for this post. It is beautifully written with wonderful pictures but it breaks my heart. I love Live Oaks and purchased my home primarily because of a majestic 100 year old Live Oak on the property. I cannot image my house without its beauty and graceful canopy . . . it would not be the same. Good luck with your tree. It is such a tragedy when they are lost.

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  66. Joni thank you for bringing this tragic situation to light. It seems that your post on this just before the hurricane was timed to show the area at it's best and most beautiful. The people of Galveston, Bolivar and surrounding areas will treasure the beautiful pictures you posted which now will be historic in their own right. Who would have thought? I'm proud of you. This was great. I'm going to go home and fertilize my trees...

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  67. Blessed to have been born and live in Texas 37 years-
    Galvez was the PERFECT escape as a child, teen and adult. The devastation is incomprehensible. We moved to the New Oleans area 2 years before Katrina. I believe it was the loss of human life that compelled the massive world wide media coverage. The 'Nawlins people I've come to know and love have rebuilt area City Halls and their own homes with their neighbors and salvaged materials, (no moaning). Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas have wounds that will take generations to heal. For those that are able, please come visit and share in the "rebirth"

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  68. Live oaks are a symbol of strength and protection. So sad that so many were lost...I hope yours survived and is healthy. The overall devastation is something I hope we don't have to experience.
    Have a good vacation.
    xo

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  69. I had to come back to this post three times before I could get through it all, it upset me so much. That the devastation to homes after a hurricane is a tragedy goes without saying, but that sea water can kill trees where the houses were untouched is just too much to wrap my head around. We live on a street lined with Chinese elms that touch in the middle. Over the years, a few have been lost to high winds that followed a rainy period... their roots are shallow and if the city doesn't keep up with pruning and thinning, they can blow over if the earth beneath them is wet. One of my across-the-street neighbors (who has moved away, thank goodness) was threatening to slowly kill the two in front of his house because he doesn't like cleaning up after them in the fall. We were not such good friends after that. He lives in the desert now. No trees. As much as I love my home, my attitude about my neighborhood is defined by these trees. Your Galveston story makes me so sad.

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  70. A beautiful & poignant post Joni. I thought of Henderson's quote 'The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.' Galvestonians need to grieve their loss & then look to the future, for one day their city will again be shaded be the wide & generous branches of a new generation of Live Oaks.
    Millie ^_^

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  71. So sad, I feel for all of the residents. After a severe ice storm in mid Dec. 2008 in the Upsate, NY, we lost many trees and limbs. The before/after was not as dramatic as in Galveston, but it was still heart breaking to see beloved trees damaged or completely destroyed. It must be very depressing to see those dead trees everyday. I imagine it will be just as hard when they are removed.

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  72. This is truly sad. Not only will the trees have to go but everything that was thriving in their shade will change also. I have massive oak trees that shade my backyard and it would be an entirely different place without them. I'm so glad to hear that they are replanting.

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  73. Correction: The date should have read "1998". -Brenda-

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  74. Thank you = all of you - for your wonderful comments!!!!!!!!!!!!! I loved reading each and every one. We just don't realize what we have in our front yards until it's taken away.

    Joni

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  75. My husband and I have a little weekend house four blocks from the seawall between 16th and 17th. I was just driving through the area you write about on the other side of Broadway where all the beautiful live oaks grew. It was so depressing, but I feel that we must all look to the future, plant more beautiful trees, and also I must note that on the seawall side of Galveston there are still lots of gorgeous trees that survived, lush greenery everywhere. Not all is doom and gloom on the island. We love Galveston, we will make it beautiful again.

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  76. Joni, I read this post several days ago, but just couldn't comment because it broke my heart. I grew up visiting an aunt in Galveston, so it is near and dear. I literally cried while reading a paragraph to Dan.... it's just so sad. Hope the residents get "crazy" replanting trees.
    I used to roll my eyes at 'tree-huggers' when I was younger, but now you just might see me chained to some big tree trying to be taken down some day!;)
    Thank you for this informative post. Fingers crossed for your tree. joan

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