The following is from an email sent to me by a good friend in Nacogdoches whose buddy has been over Galveston - names have been edited out to protect the folks those who relayed the report. Also relayed from this guy and others: persons going into the restricted area are apparently being patted down and cameras are being confiscated, by Army and Coast Guard personnel.
Okay...I've got some news on this front. Take it for what it's worth, but the guy I got it from is someone I trust to raise my children... He's never once lied to me...ever. And we're close.
He's in a pretty high-up supervisory position for a refinery down on the coast.
His refinery has some equipment and lines in and around Galveston county, and before they were to bring them back on line he and his crew had to inspect the place for damage and potential hazards. So they were given permission....after a background check....to helicopter in and inspect, which meant coming in over Galveston.
I kid you not when I say that he told me they saw AT LEAST 1500 bodies in trees scattered about Galveston. They also saw a lot in various ditches and marshes, esp. on the north side of East Galv. Bay, east side of Trinity Bay, and in the marshes between I-45 and Seabrook/Clear Lake/Deer Park.
It explains why they're not letting the media anywhere close to the Island except in limited sectors nd we're not hearing anything from or about the people who survived and those who stayed behind. It's like 20,000 people never
existed....where are they? Where'd they go? What are their names? Nothing....
Same thing in Orange county.
Take it for what it's worth....I believe him, though his count may be wrong given the shock of the sight. But like I said, I'd trust him to raise my kids.
I'd be more surprised if he were wrong than if he were right.
And from Rhiannon Myers of the Galveston Daily News comes this dispatch:
GALVESTON - Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas on Monday ordered all city employees not to talk to news reporters. She did not say when that order would be lifted.
Thomas and City Manager Steve LeBlanc will be the only officials allowed to talk to reporters. City spokeswoman Mary Jo Naschke vehemently denied the city was trying to clamp down on coverage.
Reporters would be allowed on the island only if they had proper identification, Thomas said. She didn't clarify what that meant.
Reporters were also forbidden from visiting areas on the far West End, Thomas said. She did not explain why.
I'm not normally one to be alarmist and I don't want to upset people, but this has me very worried. I know some folks who stayed down there to ride it out, as does the guy who sent me the email above - he has yet to hear from one of his friends and fears the worst. His report of the damage in Nacogdoches was not pretty either, and if this storm tore apart towns that far inland it's certainly not unreasonable to think that Galveston and the Triangle have experienced unprecedented devastation.
There could be arguably sound reasons for media blackouts, and the specter of hundreds of bodies among the wreckage may be one of them. It's not always easy in situations like this to know where to draw the line between respect for the deceased and their families, and the public's right to know about what has happened.
Perhaps the best thing we can all do now is pitch in and help:
Donate to Red Cross Disaster Relief
or jump in locally in Austin - see Matt's post below to Donate to and Volunteer at the Capitol Area Food Bank