On September13 on the website of The Daily News of Galveston County, Texas, President and Publisher Dolph Tillotson promised in a blog to continue publication both in print and online throughout and after Hurricane Ike.
“Having a daily newspaper to hold in your hand is a reminder that life goes on,” Tillotson said. “We think that’s important, and we’ll work hard to fulfill that part of our mission as soon as we can.” He acknowledged that efforts would be delayed because of damages.
While places like Galveston and Houston have reporters who faced the brunt of Hurricane Ike, a student reporter from Texas A&M also felt the impact of the storm on her news team, despite little damage to College Station, the town that surrounds the school.
“I felt like I was a professional jumping up with ideas and grabbing the stories I could while the editor in chief brainstormed all over the dry erase board,” said Clair Lavender, a writer for Texas A&M’s Battalion. “We sent out video cameras and had reporters spending the night at certain shelters. We did what we could and we did it in great time?We weren’t exactly prepared but when the time came we did exactly what we needed to do and got some really great stories out there.”
While College Station did not get hit as hard as expected, the school and community did make preparations for evacuees. Hotels, churches, and even the A&M’s Kyle football stadium, Reed Arena and the G. Rollie White Coliseum were used as temporary housing for refugees. Lavender also said that the vet school opened its doors to livestock and pets of evacuees.
Chelsea Phillips, a 2007 McDaniel graduate, is also living in College Station; she is taking graduate classes at Texas A&M. She said that while there was not too much damage in their area, the amount of evacuees made her realize the impact of the storm.
While grocery shopping, Phillips said she “overheard one man asking his son, ‘Isn’t it nice to be able to shop in a grocery store with lights?'” The packed store made her realize her fortune in avoiding much of Ike’s damage.
“That people would have to come to College Station to find an open, lit grocery store–it wasn’t really something that I even considered!”
Phillips said that they had expected winds up to 50 mph and flooding. “We were all relieved, of course?there was kind of a letdown, after all the hype. But that feeling was definitely tempered by a thankfulness for being spared from the danger and destruction.”
College Station did get hit with rain and wind late Friday evening and all Saturday, but Hurricane Ike had unexpectedly turned eastward and spared the Texas A&M community.
Other parts of Texas and Louisiana, however, were not so lucky. The American Red Cross posted on their Hurricane Ike newsroom page that 114 shelters have been set up in Texas, and 12 have been set up in Louisiana, as of September 17, to aid those who cannot get back to their homes or no longer have one.
According to the Associated Press, over 50 deaths have been reported as caused by Hurricane Ike, but officials expect that number to rise as the search for survivors continues. Residents of Galveston are encouraged not to return to the coastal county yet, because damages are still too great.
At Texas A&M, however, damages were minimal, Lavender said one student’s car was hit by a fallen tree and was the most damage that she knew of.
“College Station was well over-prepared for anything which got a lot of kids running home and stocking up on water and flashlights,” said Lavender. “We’re all ok though.”