Look carefully at this picture. Although residents of Galveston are never more than 1 mile from the water, we usually don't park our boats in the back yard. Local media have called this "unintentional dry docking" of watercraft. The workers laboring to restore electricity had to wait several days for cleanup crews to remove the mast from the power lines before proceeding.
The good and bad news is that residents of the island will be allowed to return on Wednesday, September 24th. There is some restoration of electricity. There is no drinkable water. The largest of the debris in the streets is removed (including the boats) but cleanup crews cannot enter private property.
Here are a few interesting recommendations for people returning to the island that most mainlanders probably have not considered.
*Tetanus booster, Hepatitis A, and Hepatitis B immunizations are required by the Health Dept before returning to the area.
*Among the cleanup supplies that people must bring with them (none available on the island) is a tire repair kit. Small, but sharp, debris remain everywhere, including the streets. There are no retail places to repair a flat. People returning to the island must be capable of fixing their own flats.
*Although running water will be restored very shortly, for several weeks all water must be boiled before drinking.
*Most refrigerators must be replaced. Food has been spoiling inside the refrigerators for 11 days now. No amount of cleaning will remove the contamination from the plastic. The city has issued instructions for preparing all debris, including refrigerators, for removal.
*Everything flooded must be removed.......plaster, drywall, studs (if soaked), upholstery, drapes, carpet, even wood flooring. Any material that adsorbs water will have mold growing by now. Even with ventilation and moisture removal methods, mold damage remains a risk.
*There is a 6PM to 6AM curfew on the island until further notice. (That's going to make it hard for me to get to work!)
*The hospital is still not functional for inpatient or clinic care. DMAT teams (from Connecticut and Ohio, thank you!) are providing basic care at this time. We will transition with them beginning late this week. In spite of that, as of today, we are still weeks from being able to provide anything more than stabilization and transfer.
*Our emergency medicine residents, who cannot afford to lose a month of their training, have been graciously accepted (temporarily) into several other programs for "away" rotations. Thank you very much to the EM programs in Corpus Christi and Houston for helping us out.
I'll keep you posted on the continuing recovery efforts.
Photo courtesy of Joshua Feinstein