SE Texas Has Been Battered by Rita and Ike

P1540450 729897In conversation after conversation here in Southeast Texas, the topic of hurricanes Rita and Ike comes up. So many lives were uprooted, and nature was changed in such profound ways, I learned.

We spent the morning today on the Village Creek, with water the color of weak tea and downed trees all along its route. A fisherman who was taking his bass boat out of the water told us that for a full three years after the 2005 calamity, there were no fish left alive in this waterway. The roiling of the currents and the deposits of so many dead leaves killed them all off. Just last year he said, he could cast out his line and catch a bass, which he promptly threw back in.

Stephanie, one of the tourism officials here in Beaumont, said her father-in-law’s house was destroyed, and that the ritual of having to pack up and evacuate during big storms wears on you, and it happens with alarming regularity. The last time it was for a 10-day spell, they stayed at her grandma’s. Up to 50% of the trees in the big forests here have been felled by the combination of Rita and Ike’s wicked winds.

We paddled around an island called Baby Galvez, where our guide, David Martin said that during prohibition there was a speakeasy and a brothel here. Now it’s a tangle of fallen trees and twisted brush. He got into guiding after an accident on an oil rig left his shoulder damaged. Now he and his wife operate Piney Woods outfitters, and take locals and tourists down this river in kayaks and canoes. “We love it on the river,” he said.