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How Many Dead in Galveston?

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How Many Dead in Galveston?

By Alan Caruba Thursday, September 18, 2008

Here's a question for you. Given the many people who refused to leave Galveston, Texas, how many died as the result of Hurricane Ike?

If you cannot find any reports than you are not alone. There is a virtual news blackout regarding casualties and deaths from the devastation the hurricane inflicted on Galveston.

The official death toll, according to an Associated Press, September 17, report was 49 "with most of the deaths coming outside of Texas." The same report cited nine deaths in the Houston-area, but there was no word from Galveston, a place that currently resembles the surface of the Moon.

The most recent news report about Galveston that I could find was on the MSNBC website, updated as of Sunday. It cited two cases of Texans killed by the storm without reference to Galveston. It may have been too soon to know, but by Wednesday, there still was no word.

The hurricane reportedly killed more than 80 people in the Caribbean before reaching the United States. It was huge; some 500 miles across, with a storm surge that easily topped Galveston's seawall. And yet, despite an occasional glimpse of the devastation it left behind, there is still no word of any deaths in Galveston.

"Homes and other buildings in Galveston and homes burned unattended during the height of Ike's fury; 17 collapsed because crews couldn't get to them to douse the flames. There was no water or electricity on the island... " according to the Sunday MSNBC report.

It seems unlikely, given the number of residents who chose to remain despite the order to evacuate, that there are no reports of deaths or of missing persons. The mainstream news media's lack of interest, given the ferocity of the hurricane, is curious.

It could be that many of the dead were washed out to sea and a toll may never be known, but surely some of those who remained behind were killed and initial cleanup and rescue efforts should have yielded their bodies. If this is the case, it is not being reported.

One would think that either a Texas state agency or FEMA would make some kind of announcement, but so far the silence is beyond any explanation. One finds nothing on their websites.

Are government agencies reluctant to provide such information, given the backlash that occurred in the wake of Hurricane Katrina? Would a significant death toll in Galveston or anywhere affected by Hurricane Ike raise new questions about the ability of States and FEMA to respond?

Or did the evacuation and other efforts work so well that, miraculously, Galveston has few fatalities? We're still waiting to know.