Jesse Ferrell

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The Last House Standing After Hurricane Ike

September 20, 2008; 3:36 PM ET

UPDATE 9/25: Here's another video from KFDM interviewing the house's owners, and here's the article and transcript, and another article from ABC.


UPDATE 9/21: Here's a video from our affiliates interviewing the home owners as they come back to take stock of their house. Note one important bullet point: "It was the highest land on the beach." The house was located just to the east of the bridge, on Church Street (the First Baptist Church on the corner was one of the buildings wiped out).


Note also that, because of Rollover Bay, this was the thinnest strip of beach on the Bolivar Peninsula. This probably added to the complete destruction of this swath of beach (because there was no resistance as the waves rolled inland).

The NWS has uploaded a larger version of the famous photo than the Portrait or Landscape AP Photo (which do show more of the scene). Click to enlarge:

ORIGINAL REPORT: Much ado has been made about "the last house standing" on Crystal Beach. CNN made the house famous with this article, based on this photo sent in to them by a local helipilot who took additional photos (CNN also has "before and after" pictures of the house). Below is a similar photo from the Associated Press, a slightly different perspective than the one I showed in my Final Ike Report earlier this week:


- It was built on 14-feet stilts after Rita in 2005

- The storm surge entered anyway, and wrecked the inside of the house

- Most of the neighbors weren't that high

- The owners plan to repair or rebuild if necessary

- The photo appears to show no missing shingles

The latter point points to the fact that most of the damage at Gilchrist was storm-surge-related and winds weren't that high, or those shingles were attached fiercely at the time of construction (a closer look reveals that a few are missing). Still, you've got to figure some luck was involved - when the house in front of you crashes into yours, it probably doesn't matter if yours is on stilts or not. Here is a before and after shot of the area from Google Earth using the NOAA aerial imagery that I explored in a Vlog earlier this week (note that the "before" shot was taken before the house was built in 2005):



P.S.: It's interesting how all the media coverage is concentrating on Galveston, because of its history or fame, while Crystal Beach & Gilchrist had much worse damage and residents haven't been able to return there either.

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Jesse Ferrell
Jesse Ferrell's WeatherMatrix blog covers extreme weather worldwide with a concentration on weather photos and Social Media.