LIANE HANSEN, host:
As you just heard, many of the roads near the Texas coast are impassable, littered with debris left behind by Hurricane Ike. NPR's Ari Shapiro discovered that for himself yesterday when he drove from Houston south towards Galveston. He passed a police checkpoint and came to a stop on the interstate a few miles north of where the storm barreled ashore.
ARI SHAPIRO: Wow. Right under the sign that says I-45 south to Galveston there is a huge boat turned on its side and then just trash stretching on after that for as far as I can see. Let's get out and take a look.
(Soundbite of Shapiro exiting vehicle)
SHAPIRO: Well, this is the reason we're not going to be able to get into Galveston by road today. There's just the most random assortment of trash I've ever seen here. There are huge boards and logs. There are boats turned upside down. There's a street sign right here.
(Soundbite of clanking metal)
SHAPIRO: A guy told us he just stepped on a rattlesnake. There's a great big blue trashcan and a mailbox that says the Galveston County Daily News on it.
(Soundbite of bell ringing)
SHAPIRO: A shiny green Christmas tree ornament. Here comes four guys with their pet dog. Hey there. Will you tell me your name?
Mr. DUSTIN RHOADES (Resident, Bayou Vista, Texas): Dustin Rhoades.
SHAPIRO: Do you live around here?
Mr. RHOADES: Yeah, I live right here in Bayou Vista.
SHAPIRO: Are you going to try to get home today?
Mr. RHOADES: Oh, no. We ain't getting home today. There ain't no way, ain't no way. We're hoping there wasn't water in our upstairs. I've heard about five foot of water in people's upstairs.
SHAPIRO: In the upstairs?
Mr. RHOADES: Upstairs.
SHAPIRO: So does that mean, the downstairs is...
Mr. RHOADES: Oh, downstairs is gone. Downstairs is completely underwater. But our washer and dryer is upstairs. We got a refrigerator, it's gone.
SHAPIRO: You think you might find it washed up on the interstate here?
Mr. RHOADES: I wouldn't be surprised. Listen, I'm going to catch up with my friends.
SHAPIRO: All right. Yeah. Take care.
Trucks are coming through on the wrong side of the freeway towing boats behind them, presumably for rescue operations. The water is washing up onto the interstate here. A couple of cormorants are overhead, trying to fly into the wind, and they're going backwards. They keep pumping their wings, and they're not making any progress.
Do you mind talking to us for a second? We're with National Public Radio.
Mr. JODIE BERRYHILL: Sure.
SHAPIRO: Could you tell me your name?
Mr. BERRYHILL: Jodie Berryhill. My friends live in Galveston. I was trying to get - check on them. Apparently, there's no way in. I've tried every way, and this is the last resort.
SHAPIRO: Did you try to persuade them not to stay there?
Mr. BERRYHILL: Yeah. They were not planning on staying there if it got really bad, but it happened so quickly, you know. All of a sudden the next morning it's coming over the sea wall, and it was too late to get out.
SHAPIRO: They're saying the storm surge was only 11 feet, not the 25 that they were expecting. Does that make you feel any better?
Mr. BERRYHILL: If it would've been 25 it'd be a lot worse. We wouldn't be standing here right now, I don't think.
SHAPIRO: Well, as it is we're standing in the middle of an interstate.
Mr. BERRYHILL: Yeah, exactly. And look at this mess.
SHAPIRO: Now that Ike has passed, crews are going to start cleaning up this mess so that the people who fled Galveston before the storm can get back home. Ari Shapiro, NPR News, standing on I-45 between Houston and Galveston.
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