‘We have to prepare’: Coastal Texas towns board up before mass evacuation

Texas

CRYSTAL BEACH, Texas (KXAN) — Entire towns along the Texas Gulf Coast have been ordered to evacuate.

Most people living in Crystal Beach, Texas near Galveston have taken that mandate seriously.

On Tuesday, a few cars dotted the road. Most of the houses, situated on 16-foot stilts, appeared unoccupied. The few people seen out and about were either buying gas, stocking up on groceries or boarding their windows.

“After [Hurricane] Ike, everyone smartened up and decided to get out,” said John Hazelhurst, who lives 15 miles west of Crystal Beach. “Houses [were] in the middle of the street. Houses gone. Cars gone. People gone. Matter of fact, they dug up a body three years after Ike.”

This coastal town has experienced torrential storms and devastating loss. When Hurricane Ike ripped through in 2008, much of it was destroyed. The homes were rebuilt and mandated to be lifted to 16-feet. The National Weather Service reports Hurricane Ike caused a whopping $30 billion worth of damage.

While the debris and damage of Ike have long been cleared away, the evacuation-mentality is still present.

“You notice everyone leaving? By tomorrow, this will be a ghost town,” Hazelhurst said.

Business owners were boarding their windows with plywood. Some purchased heavy-duty stainless steel doors, which were being bolted shut.

“We have to prepare to protect our property,” said Ken Jethwa, who manages a gas station and convenience store in Crystal Beach. “We just board it up, all the glass windows and doors. That’s all we can do.”

Before exiting to take shelter elsewhere, Hazelhurst had a final piece of advice for anyone considering braving the elements on the coast.

“If you are in a hurricane situation like this, get the hell out of town.”

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