The City of Galveston today held a press conference to give an update on the status of the island since Hurricane Ike's impact one month ago. Listen: RealPlayer MP3
Representatives from the City, FEMA, the American Red Cross, CenterPoint Energy, Texas Gas Service, AT&T, Comcast, the University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston Housing Authority and the Galveston Economic Development Partnership provided information on the recovery from Ike.
"We have a very long way to go on the island," said Galveston Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas.
Thomas made an appeal to the United States Postmaster General to restore post office service to Downtown Galveston. The Downtown Post Office remains closed.
Gerry Stolar of FEMA said the agency is expanding its operations at the Island Community Center, and has placed additional mobile disaster recover centers on the island.
UTMB President Dr. David Callender reported that students have returned to the Nursing and Allied Health program. Medical students are expected to return to classes next week.
Callender also reported that researchers have returned to work on their projects. The hospital is expected to have some beds for patients opened in November, according to Callender. He also said the hospital delivered two children this morning.
Floyd LeBlanc of CenterPoint Energy reported that all customers with structures that can receive power have electricity. He said that 8,000 customers on the island are without electricity due to flood damages that will require repairs to their structures before power can be restored. Many of the structures without power are in the Downtown and Strand areas.
CenterPoint has begun a program to receive City permits to be sent electronically to the company to speed up the process of turning electricity on customers who have made repairs, LeBlanc said.
Texas Gas Service has re-established service to approximately 42 percent of its customers in Galveston. The company is currently making a "second sweep" of the island to restore service, said Bobby Enriquez.
Galveston Deputy City Manager Brandon Wade reported that 95 percent of the City's water and sewer service has been restored, after suffering a 100 percent loss of service after Ike's impact. The City has removed 750,000 cubic yards of debris, which is estimated to be about 50 percent of the debris needing to be collected, according to Wade.
Gulf Coast Center Executive Director Mike Winburn announced that approximately 200 of its consumers have not made contact since Ike and he is concerned that their medicine is running out. He asked that they contact the center at (409) 763-2373.
Mayor Thomas asked for patience from residents while the City recovers, but she stressed that the island will rebuild.
"Galveston, over time, will indeed be paradise island again," she said.