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Brendan Loy fears that years in the future, we will be referring to Hurricane Ike as “The Great Galveston Hurricane of 2008.” I think he is right.

This picture was taken many hours before Ike was scheduled to make landfall. The city of Galveston was already under 3 feet of water, despite not having experience any winds or rains yet. Ike is a monster, the likes of which have not been seen in 50 years.

As I write this, Ike is still out at sea. It will hit Galveston island in a few hours. The expected storm surge is over 3 metres.

The residents were warned days in advance that Ike is a freak storm. The exact language used was “Persons not heeding evacuation orders in single-family one or two-storey homes will face certain death.”

There is no exaggeration in that warning. It is a fact that the entire Galveston island will have experienced surges of upto 22 feet of water by this time tomorrow and winds upward of 110 miles an hour. Unless you live in the third storey of a building or higher, you are going to die, plain and simple.  Even if you do, and your house is not blown away or crushed by a tree, you will certainly be without food, water or electricity from outside for weeks. Not all the people who have refused to evacuate from Galveston island are stupid. Some of them are indeed extremely well-prepared and fully aware of the risks.

But I also fear that many are not. There are — by some accounts — 24,000 people on the island tonight. They have refused mandatory evacuation orders and decided to ride out the storm. I believe they have a right to do that. But I also hope they all sleep well tonight, for some of them will die before the sun is out tomorrow.

[Update]: It now appears that the storm surge was 10-15 feet, not 22 feet as predicted. So, the devastation and death toll will be much lower than I feared.

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