To all visitors and readers of GuidryNews.com and Gulf Coast E-news:
This is an update on the operation of Guidry News Service since Hurricane Ike ravaged the Gulf Coast Region, and a message of thanks to our associates who have helped us to continue to provide information throughout these trying times.
Lynda and I weathered the landfall of Ike at the Galveston County Emergency Operations Center on Highway 646 in Dickinson, which was designed to withstand a Category 5 Hurricane and also houses the National Weather Service and the Galveston County Emergency Communications District.
It was a very wise choice because City of Galveston officials, who had been delivering mixed messages about evacuations and shelter on the island, chose to move the city's operations to the San Luis Hotel on the Seawall; which flooded, lost power and suffered blown out windows.
To further support our decision, we were chagrined that Galveston Mayor Pro Tem Danny Weber and Assistant City Manager Lloyd Renderer, who were assigned to the County EOC as "decision makers" refused to answer questions presented by Guidry News Service. The questions included erroneous reports that the University of Texas Medical Branch was on fire, and a true report of a major fire that destroyed two historical buildings one-half block from the Guidry News Service headquarters at 1818 Church in Galveston. We were able to get reliable information from County officials; and thus to provide accurate information to our world-wide audience.
I have discussed weaknesses in City of Galveston readiness for tropical storms and hurricanes in past editorials.
Through the excellent planning by Galveston County Judge Jim Yarbrough and the commissioners court, electricity at the Emergency Operations Center continued with only a flicker when outside power was interrupted and the building's generators kicked in. Broadband service, critical to our operation, was excellent. We published information on GuidryNews.com during Ike's landfall and throughout the weekend that followed.
After the hurricane moved ashore and the winds and storm surge subsided, Lynda and I were preparing to move from the Emergency Operations Center when Judge Yarbrough asked that we stay for a while longer, to assist him and Emergency Management Coordinator John Simsen with the huge influx of calls for information from the local, regional, national and international media and the public.
Guidry News Service became the Galveston County Public Information Office for two weeks. The Galveston County Office of Emergency Management Website directed its visitors to GuidryNews.com for official information. We created a special Hurricane Ike page that was used to post information on the storm's damage and recovery operations.
On Tuesday, September 16, we resumed publication of Gulf Coast E-news, with the excellent help of Managing Editor Garrett Bryce.
City secretaries and clerks, municipal elected officials, county officials and public information officers provided additional assistance in gathering the pass and fail information for numerous emergency/special meetings following the hurricane; and we continued to provide comprehensive coverage of posted public meetings in the Gulf Coast Region.
Guidry News Service Webmaster and IT Consultant Jason Adriance increased our ability to handle the additional traffic to our site generated by the County affiliation by moving GuidryNews.com to a new, larger server in Arizona, which enables us to increase and continue our service to the Gulf Coast Region.
Other Guidry News Service associates, including my brother Carl Guidry, provided valuable assistance during the emergency. Carl, who evacuated to Emory, Texas, from his home and office in Port Arthur, helped manage the GuidryNews.com Bulletin Board that was created to help Hurricane Ike evacuees communicate during the emergency, and provided a way for governments, social service agencies and businesses to communicate with evacuees.
My niece Ashley Ayala, who worked with Guidry News Service as a special correspondent in Jefferson County until she recently moved to Florida to participate in the Disney College Program, was reactivated to manage the Bulletin Board page dealing with school closings and re-openings. Juan Peña and Robert Mihovil, who have been GuidryNews.com contributors, provided photos and on the ground reports from Galveston Island and the Bolivar Peninsula.
Although it has been many years since I served as communications director for former Houston mayor Jim McConn and public information officer for other City of Houston departments, it was interesting to again be fielding questions for public officials. We spent a significant amount of time dispelling rumors that thousands of bodies had washed into the Gulf of Mexico, fielded many questions about the exotic animals who survived the storm on the Bolivar Peninsula, and served as a conduit for questions by residents of the Bolivar Peninsula concerning the re-entry program that is continuing.
On Friday, September 26, Lynda and I moved out of the Galveston County Emergency Operations Center and ceased being the public information office for the County; although we continue to communicate daily with Judge Yarbrough and other members of the commissioners court.
We are currently operating from space in Texas City provided by Jason Adriance until power and broadband is restored to our home and office on Galveston Island. Although the 1800 block of Church Street got six to ten feet of flood water, we are on the second floor and all of our equipment and "stuff" survived.
We're also pleased to report that even though Jefferson and Orange Counties had devastating damage from the storm surge, our offices on the fourth floor of the historic San Jacinto Building in Downtown Beaumont were not impacted.
Thanks to the technology of the 21st Century, Guidry News Service is in excellent shape. Lynda and I are looking forward to continuing our service to the Gulf Coast Region, which now includes Jefferson, Galveston, Brazoria and Harris counties; and are planning to expand eastward into Louisiana and southward along the Texas coast.
We very much appreciate the comments and support we have received from our visitors, subscribers and advertisers and pledge to continue to provide excellent service as the future unfolds.