Texas Livestock A Casualty Of Hurricane Ike

Cows displaced by Hurricane Ike roam freely on State Highway 73 in southern Texas. i i

Cows displaced by Hurricane Ike roam freely on State Highway 73 in southern Texas. Marisa Penaloza/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Marisa Penaloza/NPR
Cows displaced by Hurricane Ike roam freely on State Highway 73 in southern Texas.

Cows displaced by Hurricane Ike roam freely on State Highway 73 in southern Texas.

Marisa Penaloza/NPR

Many small towns in Texas have been devastated by Hurricane Ike. The agricultural community of Fannett, Texas, was flattened by the storm. Residents are returning in hopes of reclaiming what was left behind. But many are finding their valuable livestock dead.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

People in the path of Hurricane Ike are looking at the damage now or just looking for groceries. Some of the worst effects came in small towns. They don't have the resources of Houston or Galveston, and their needs are just as pressing. NPR's Ari Shapiro has this report from Fannett, Texas, about 70 miles east of Houston.

ARI SHAPIRO: Cattle are lying on the highway that leads to Fannett, living and dead.

(Soundbite of cow mooing)

SHAPIRO: Half the road is underwater. It's receded just enough to drive through. Take a left at the sign that says "Turkey Shoot" and "Leon's Fish Camp," and you'll Find Jimmy Norton's(ph) neighborhood. He and his neighbors are back from a search and rescue mission.

Mr. JIMMY NORTON (Resident, Fannett, Texas): Well, there's supposedly someone that had stayed in down there. And we went to see if we could find them. And we didn't see any sign of any person. Excuse me.

SHAPIRO: He dumps the water out of his boot. Yesterday, he freed livestock that were trapped in the floodwaters.

Mr. NORTON: They were about to the point to give up. So we just freed them and turned them out.

SHAPIRO: So that explains why we saw a goat eating somebody's front yard?

Mr. NORTON: Exactly. That goat was down here in a barn on its hind legs with water up to its chest. We went in an airboat, we got it, loaded him in the airboat and brought him up to higher ground.

SHAPIRO: Every building here is uninhabitable. Down the block, Andrea Espinoza(ph) and her daughter are carrying whatever they can salvage out of their flooded house. Trash bags full of towels, clothes, blankets. This is the first time they've been home since the storm.

Ms. ANDREA ESPINOZA (Fannett, Texas Resident): (Through Translator) I felt like crying when I saw our house. There are dead animals all over, and everything is under water. This looks like an ocean.

SHAPIRO: Her family's three horses are missing. Her son-in-law Simon Olivera(ph) lives in a two-storey brick house next door. It's destroyed.

Mr. SIMON OLIVERA (Fannett, Texas, Resident): We made it by myself.

SHAPIRO: You built this house?

Mr. OLIVERA: About two years ago.

SHAPIRO: So what does this house represent for you? What does it mean for you?

Mr. OLIVERA: We lost, I mean, everything, because we saved money to made it, and now it's gone.

SHAPIRO: In the big city, huge trucks distribute water, ice, and food to people in need. Here in Fannett, the responsibility falls to Robbie Smith(ph). He's the local game warden. The back of his pickup is full of emergency supplies.

Mr. ROBBIE SMITH (Game Warden, Fannett, Texas): You know, I live here. This is my community. And, you know, I go to church with these people, and my kids go to school with their kids. And, you know, just as a - not only in my position as emergency personnel but as a community member, I got to try to help these people any way I can.

SHAPIRO: He says of course human life is more important than livestock. But losing a herd of cattle can be disastrous out here.

Mr. SMITH: A lot of what you see are these cows. And it's these people like you see walking around here, that's some of their livelihood. So it's just no different from a business owner in town who had his building blown away.

SHAPIRO: Now, like the business owners in town, the people of Fannett are trying to figure out how to rebuild their lives. Ari Shapiro, NPR News.

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