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After Ike, Bridge City Residents Await Return Home

Despite ongoing hurricane relief efforts in Bridge City, Texas, residents remain barred from returning to their homes. Tom Bearden reports on the destruction and the latest developments.

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  • GWEN IFILL:

    Next, the story of a small town hit hard by Hurricane Ike. NewsHour correspondent Tom Bearden reports from Bridge City, Texas.

  • HURRICANE VICTIM:

    Oh, my gosh.

  • TOM BEARDEN, NewsHour Correspondent:

    This is what the main street of Bridge City, Texas, looked like right after Hurricane Ike passed over. A volunteer fireman shot this footage as he and his colleagues returned to the city early Saturday morning after the eye of the storm had passed.

    And this is what it looks like now. The water has receded, only to uncover widespread devastation.

    Bridge City is one of a string of small towns that line up along the Texas-Louisiana border about 20 miles inland from the Gulf of Mexico. From the air, it’s quickly apparent that the neighborhoods closest to waterways were inundated by anywhere from two to eight feet of water.

    Block-by-block damage assessments are just now getting under way in most Gulf Coast communities, so no one can accurately quantify how much damage there actually has been, but indications are that Bridge City has been hit much harder than most.

    The walls of some houses were simply stripped away, oddly leaving the roof intact but completely trashing the interior. That’s what happened to John and Sheila Wheeler’s house.

    Friends and relatives were helping them recover what they could. They were being careful. A neighbor’s pit bull had taken up residence in the kitchen.

  • JOHN WHEELER:

    I’m still in shock, kind of, so I haven’t really thought about it. And I’ll sit down in a couple of days, and I’ll try to go back to work.

  • TOM BEARDEN:

    What’s all this stuff in the yard?

  • SHEILA WHEELER:

    This is swamp grass, moss weed.

  • TOM BEARDEN:

    Sheila Wheeler was very close to tears as she surveyed the damage.

  • SHEILA WHEELER:

    When we first drove up on the side, that the brick was OK, and I thought, “OK, well, it’s going to be OK.” And I really expected it just to be wet inside and the bricks would still be standing. And when we drove up and saw all the brick out, it’s kind of shocking.

  • TOM BEARDEN:

    Do you want to rebuild here?

  • SHEILA WHEELER:

    Yes.

  • TOM BEARDEN:

    Why?

  • SHEILA WHEELER:

    Well, it’s mine and John’s first home, and we like the view.

  • TOM BEARDEN:

    The view is the reason all this stuff is here.

  • SHEILA WHEELER:

    Well, you go up further north, and you have tornadoes, and you’ll have that there, too, and just, I mean, there’s just always problems somewhere. You’ve just got to hope for the best.

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