Submitted August 22, 2011

Hurricane Ike Survival Story

In 2008, my wife and I were stranded in the Bolivar Peninsula during Hurricane Ike. We had a wrecker service and were usually the last ones out due to helping other people leave. This time the storm surge came in a few hours early and washed the only bridge out leaving us stranded. The water rose twenty feet causing us to seek shelter in our attic. Then the storm hit for real with twenty foot waves that took the walls out of the house, like a bulldoser had run through. We were in the attic for about eight hours before the waves stopped and the water went down enough for us to climb down. What we found was total devastation. We could not see any other houses still standing and the water was still fifteen feet deep. Later that day a helicopter came and hovered in front of our house, the pilot waved but then flew away. The next day the water went down enough that I could climb down and wade through the mud and water to try and find water to drink and food to eat since all of our supplies had washed away when the walls went. After hours of walking through mud and dead animals I found a store that had blown apart and scattered food and bottled water over a large area. I managed to carry enough home for us to survive on for a few days. On the third day after many tries I flagged down a helicopter, they told us they were just a medical team and while they could not take us out they would tag us on their GPS and send help. The next day we were picked up by a fish and game air boat and taken to a shelter where we were herded around by the national guard as if we were POWs . They had little food, no working restrooms, and people were crowded into one large room with cots about three feet apart. My wife and I were both injured in the storm but they had no medical help other than an aid station where I was told my wrist was just bruised and scraped (it had a piece of wood wedged between the bones) and that my wifes knees were just bruised and that she should walk around more (she had to have two total knee replacements). The government would not let return to the Peninsula for two weeks to check our property or look for survivors. By the time they let us back in what the looters had not stolen the elements had destroyed. We tried to get help from the Texas governors office and were told that it was a FEMA matter and they could not and would not help. FEMA said they were stretched so thin from Katrina they could only allow us about one fourth of what it would cost to rebuild our house. We applied for a SBA loan but were told that since we had no collateral we did not qualify (if we still had all of our stuff we would not need the loan). I know this sounds like I am complaining, but I'm just telling it like it is. We lived through it and are grateful for it. Just keep in mind that if you are in a disaster don't count on help from anyone. If you can't do it yourself, you might not make it. To end on a light note, I think God let me survive this because He is still mad at my wife! Frank A. Sherman

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