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April 22, 2013 / philosophermouseofthehedge

Promises made. Ugly demands.

Blow after blow.

Storms few wanted to see in person

People told her, “Leave. No more talk. Leave now.”

(Portrait of Emma, 1887. Anders Zorn,1860-1920, Mora, Sweden/ US public domain. published before 1923/ artist's life/ Commons/ wikimedia.org)

Perhaps an answer. (Anders Zorn,1860-1920.Sweden/US Public domain: published before 1923/artist’s life/ Commons/wikimedia.org)

Hardly holding up her head, she said she’d made promises.

There are those depending on her.

Somehow something would work out.

Beach,1908.(de Blaas,1843-1932,US pubic domain: artist life+70ys/ commons.wikimedia.org)

Some time and a place to think.
(de Blaas,1843-1932/US Public domain: artist life+70ys/ commons.wikimedia.org)

Do the sea gulls whisper those illusive dreams to her?

Better they call caution.

As she walks the beach sands, does the water lull her into inaction?

Better the tide temper with reality.

Can’t she see the sand crabs skittering towards her – waving to get her attention?

Better  to converse with them.

IMG_0505

She’s tried.

Negotiations. Reconciliations. Mediation.

Unreasonable Demands.

Second thoughts.

She stiffened her spine. Put on a brave face. Stood quietly in front of everyone.

Only to have shrill threats and unfounded accusations hurled.

Tired of fighting.

Submit or drown.

(Albert Edelfeldt, 1885/ Horisont5, 1998/ US public domain: reprod of PD art/expired copyrigh/ tartist life+70/ commons.wikimedia.org)

There’s got to be a solution. (Albert Edelfeldt,1885/Horisont5.1998/US Public domain: reprod of PD art/expired copyright/artist life+70/ commons.wikimedia.org)

No other choice.

Promises made.

There are those depending.

 She’s picked up her skirts walked on. Head held high.

Counting on time to be kind. Little else is.

Galveston, the Gulf Coast’s grand dame, finds eternal comfort in sunrises and the promises of tomorrows’ dawnings.

She’s been around a long time.

Hurricane Ike, 2008, may have caused havoc, but it’s not the first storm to knock her down.

Galveston Strand buildings. Trying to turn the corner.

Galveston Strand buildings. Trying to turn the corner.

Recently The Galveston City Council bowed to the demands of the Texas General Land Office.

To do otherwise was to risk the Land Office following through with the threat to withhold millions of dollars in federal disaster aid. (The Land Office is charged with dispensing these federal funds)

To do otherwise could bankrupt the city if the Land Office forced the city to repay the millions of federal funds already spent.

Spent on the replacing the water and sewage treatment plant and street repairs. Storm damage hindering city recovery.

To do otherwise would risk losing state funds for replenishing parts of the beach washed away by the storm. The beach: the reason people come to Galveston – bringing their money with them.

To do otherwise was to invite an ugly fight with state and federal agencies.

Savvy gamblers knows when to fold’em.

The controversy centered around rebuilding public housing.

Before the storm Galveston had multiple low-income slums and subsidized public housing.

There were jobs at the hotels, restaurants, and tourist areas.

Now? There aren’t any jobs.

People moved to Houston and other undamaged areas for available housing and jobs.

Building along a Strand sidestreet.

Glory slowly being reclaimed – brush stroke by brush stroke.

The Galveston tourist areas are still rebuilding.

Some hotels, gone. Some stores and restaurants still in ruin.

UTMB (hospital, medical school, and state’s critical burn center) is almost back up to speed and rebuilding.

Recently the cruise ship crowds visiting the Strand’s shops and restaurants have dwindled due to Carnival Cruise Line’s recent problems and trip cancellations.

The recovery dance slowing once again.

Public Housing is being rebuilt. No question. 

The city would have preferred scattered duplexes, new houses, and small complexes rather than huge blocks of apartments.

HUD begged to differ.

Whatever. Over, agree upon, and done.

So? The Problem?

Galveston simply requested the federal funds be provided before construction begins at two public housing sites.

Sounds like solid business sense.

Especially considering that the Feds and FEMA still haven’t paid Houston some promised hurricane funds – and the bills are long overdue.

“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice? Shame on me.”

Le Crabe, 1869. (Bourguereau 1825-1905/ US public domain.artist life+100/ Commons.wikimedia.org)

Listen closely. The sea has its’ tails.
(Bourguereau,1825-1905/US Public domain: artist life+100/ Commons.wikimedia.org)

Galveston’s an island princess: stately, but sturdy, able to bend with the wind.

Bright sun, warm sands, and island time.

Better than a spoonful of sugar.

Promises made.

Galveston: a showy splash after all these years,

Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge

Firewheels blooming in the sand dunes

Firewheels blooming in the sand dunes

28 Comments

  1. Carrie Rubin / Apr 22 2013 1:35 am

    So sad to see natural disasters wreak such havoc. Then again, I suppose that’s why they’re called ‘disasters.’ But recovering from them can take a large toll in so many areas.

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    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Apr 22 2013 3:36 pm

      Actually the storm is bad – but people make it worse. Not only the looting, fake charities draining off donations, and so much paperwork and demands for documentation (when everything is lost). Please don’t make promises you have no plans to keep (but it looks so good in news conferences) and if you want to help, do so quickly, then get out of the way and let people work. Hang in there Hurricane Sandy people! It’s hard, but you can do it yourself! (sorry…getting down off soapbox now…everyone please send positive energy and prayer to those preparing for flooding as the snow melts and rivers rise)
      Thanks for floating by

      Like

  2. PiedType / Apr 22 2013 2:45 am

    The architectural detail on those buildings is wonderful! So much more character than the bland concrete-and-glass blocks so often built in recent years.

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    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Apr 22 2013 3:40 pm

      The old buildings on the Strand are being saved – they would be a great loss. I’d love to have a loft in one. (Ike sent water 8-9 feet inside those – from the back waterways/dock areas, not from the gulf side. Trials of being an island) Thanks for being a fan of the Strand historical area

      Like

  3. jannatwrites / Apr 22 2013 5:58 am

    I hope the rebuilding does continue. (I’d ask for the money first, too!) I’ve never been to Galveston, but understand that tourism is big business there.

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    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Apr 22 2013 3:48 pm

      Tourism is the small island’s only business… a few cows still roam, but not many any more. The city started to skip the money (they had funds to rebuild the subsidized housing, so that was never in question) but the Fed and state were going to demand that money back and promised a long ugly legal battle – plus not provide funds for rebuilding the washed away beach areas. The city couldn’t take another hit. Sad to be bullied by those who promise they are they to assist. Galveston will bloom again – it always does. Thanks for sampling the sands!

      Like

  4. gingerfightback / Apr 22 2013 9:07 am

    I’ve been to Galveston – such a wonderful place.

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    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Apr 22 2013 3:49 pm

      It is a very cool place. If storms didn’t worry me so – or if there was a nice place to flee to ahead of them, I’d love to live in one of the lofts in the old buildings. Thanks for splashing along

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  5. EllaDee / Apr 22 2013 9:47 am

    “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice? Shame on me.”… only shame on Feds and FEMA, as Galveston and New Orleans like battered women looking for a new life drown in bureaucracy.

    Like

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Apr 22 2013 3:58 pm

      It is a bullying situation. Best to be self reliant and do as much as possible on your own and not count on assistance – or to deal with petty demands. At one point, the Feds and FEMA threaten to withhold money from the entire state unless Galveston changed the designs for the new public housing. Galveston designed houses and townhouses in small village-type neighborhoods with yards and porches – but HUD said that would mean there would be 80-100 fewer units. Galveston said there would be over 500 units built – and much nicer than the old ruined block apartments. Fed refused to approve. So the units were redesigned, approved. All Galveston asked was the money before they started – we all know what happens if you don’t grab the money quickly. Sad situation.
      Thanks for that perfect comparison!

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  6. Beth / Apr 22 2013 12:28 pm

    Does it look like Galveston will get the funding before it builds? On NPR they were talking about the drought in Texas and the current weather models not holding much promise, then someone stated that it would take a tropical storm to start getting us back on track. I couldn’t help thinking of Rita and Ike and thinking “but at whose expense”.

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    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Apr 22 2013 4:03 pm

      No. Galveston has been bullied to the knees and given up – ready to just move on. (and not risk losing the money to restore the beach…which will also protect some roads from washing out this year)
      An early tropical storm would mostly bring rain – so we’d take one. It’s the one that arrive in Sept. that are always terrible…all that water and air heated all summer.
      We’ve had a bit of rain once a week recently – but we are lucky. Not planting many summer flowers this year – probably won’t be able to keep them alive. RIce farmers aren’t planting all their land wither as the river authority has already said the reservoirs are to low to release irrigation water (get ready for those prices to go up).
      Thanks for checking the rain gauge over here!

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  7. aFrankAngle / Apr 22 2013 2:09 pm

    I shake my head at one level of government threatening to withhold funds from another level .. oh yes, this is done by the same politicians who proclaim the evils of government intervention …. but I hope your Galveston has a brighter tomorrow … and thanks for the shots of the grand buildings.

    Most importantly … Hi RC.

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    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Apr 22 2013 4:17 pm

      At one point HUD, FEMA, and the Feds were threatening to withhold FEMA funds from the entire state over Galveston planning to rebuild 50 fewer subsidized units (Galveston thought having yards and patios with small houses built in villages would create a better environment – and allowing small clusters of unit all around the island would be good…no. It all has to be ugly apartment blocks in two locations. And remember, there’s no jobs – and everyone’s been relocated. Real logic here. Whatever)
      The city started to just go it alone and rebuild over 500 units as they wished (money is there) – but the legal battles would bankrupt the city – and the withholding of funds from all others was totally unfair.
      Bully wouldn’t walk away and leave them alone to rebuild. Nope. So how fair is that?
      (And how big a check did Kerry just hand over to Afghanistan recently? The cobbler’s child goes barefoot. The carpenter’s wife lives in a house falling down)
      Self reliance is best – even better when others stop trying to prevent that.
      galveston will bloom again – it always does
      Thanks for grabbing a hammer and nailing some comments here!

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      • aFrankAngle / Apr 23 2013 10:46 am

        Thanks for the further explanation for a situation that doesn’t have to be.

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        • philosophermouseofthehedge / Apr 23 2013 1:55 pm

          It’s been very frustrating for the island. Galveston was looking forward to finally tearing down the grim blocks of housing (1950’s) and replacing with livable residences with green space – creating nice environments. HUD forced it’s way in and said if it was to be low income subsidized housing, they would control what was built. It was over 2 years to even get permission from HUD to tear down the rat infested flooded ruins (It’s hard to tear down HUD subsidized low income properties). Last year finally there was approval of building plans by HUD. ALl the city asked is if you plan on giving us money for building to HUD specifications, please give it to us at the beginning of the project – not at the end…too many times the money evaporates and never arrives.
          Full disclosure. I had an elderly aunt live for several years in subsidized housing provided by a faith based group. The faith based groups’ units were all refurbished and fill with residents in less than a year after the storm.
          If certain agencies stayed out of things (keep your taxpayers’ money), certain things would progress much faster.
          Meanwhile former residents were relocated and have become established in other communities…which is good because there isn’t mass transportation (walking or biking is tough in 100 degree summer temps) and few jobs.(but there are grocery stores now.)
          Hope the spring is being kind to you guys – more snow in so many places…storm due here tonight – but we’ll take the rain.
          Always appreciate your visits, thanks

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          • aFrankAngle / Apr 23 2013 1:59 pm

            Thanks for the deeper explanation that keeps my head shaking. Not that the situations are similar, but I think of an area within Cincinnati that had project apartments torn down … and is now a desirable place to live!

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          • philosophermouseofthehedge / Apr 23 2013 4:00 pm

            That’s what happened in Houston, too. After a huge fight, old units were torn down and nice 2 story townhouses built with patios, porches, and playgrounds – people visiting are shocked to find out it’s public housing….that’s exactly what Galveston was trying to do…so why the fuss? So confusing!

            Like

  8. The Hook / Apr 22 2013 5:13 pm

    You may be the most clever blogger on WordPress, my friend.
    Or on any platform, for that matter!
    Well done.

    Like

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Apr 22 2013 6:19 pm

      even thought it’s Monday and your thoughts may be muddled – I’ll take those kind remarks! Thanks

      Like

  9. jmmcdowell / Apr 22 2013 11:19 pm

    I hope everything will work out in the end. Sometimes that’s the best we can hope for. And rain that doesn’t come in the form of a hurricane would be good, too.

    Like

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Apr 23 2013 1:30 pm

      The island is bouncing back to life despite HUD’s interference. A new entertainment boardwalk is now fully open, the weather is beautiful, and people are ready to be outside. If the cruise lines can get their act together, the Strand business will make it.
      Actually a small spring storm would be fine – those are mostly rain and minor ordinary flooding everyone is used to. It’s the late storms in Sept that are always fierce. Can we vote to take the early ones and send the later ones elsewhere? Hmmm, promise, not your way, though! Thanks for blowing over

      Like

  10. reneejohnsonwrites / Apr 23 2013 12:51 am

    The victims of natural disasters are often victimized as much by the red tape, scammers, thieves, looters, and all matters of the lowest of humanity padding their own pockets, as they are by the storm itself. Whew! It’s a pet peeve.

    On a brighter note, I always love your pictures, but these are especially nice – very innocent and lovely.

    Like

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Apr 23 2013 1:40 pm

      What is wrong with people? How can anyone use tragedy to take advantage of people? Beginning to understand the feelings behind the signs “Looters will be shot.”
      Glad you enjoy the pictures, it’s fun to find ones that seem to fit just right. We are becoming more and more visual “readers”.
      No matter what the event, time and life moves quickly away and onward. Lucky there are the young who are constantly emerging with bright eyes, dreams and hope to refresh those bearing the burdens of experience?
      Thanks for seeing the promise.

      Like

  11. pegoleg / Apr 24 2013 3:18 pm

    What a lovely. poetic treatment to what can be an ugly topic. I went to Galveston for a wedding 25 years ago – what great old buildings! I hope the path toward rebuilding goes more smoothly.

    And I share your dismay at the thought of a huge swamp of low-income housing, especially if unfunded. They learned their lesson about such things in Chicago and tore down those mammoth slums, scattering people so they have a better chance at not being trapped there.

    Like

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Apr 24 2013 6:28 pm

      Galveston is making progress, never fear. The buildings that survived the 1900 storms survived Ike, too. The city is very much like a grand old dame.
      Why some groups want to make things difficult just to make things difficult is beyond me – especially when it flies in the face of logic and reason. But must paddle on. Thanks for sloshing along

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  12. shoreacres / Apr 27 2013 10:23 pm

    And let us not forget – as for municipalities, so for individuals. There is no free lunch. Even if you’re not asked to pay back the value in cash, there’s plenty of payment in independence, self-respect and dignity.

    I could say some things about the bureaucracy, welfare, idiocy and urban planning that probably would land me on someone’s watch list. On the other hand, we know how effective those watch lists are, so never mind…

    Someone up above made precisely the point, though. Shove people into those huge housing projects and you create problems rather than solve them. Give people something with room for a window box and the possibility of taking pride in their space, and life improves for everyone. Sigh.

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    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Apr 28 2013 6:15 pm

      Being close to Galveston, you know the problems they have had. It really comes down to a power/ego trip by someone/agency who really doesn’t care about doing the right thing. Environment is important…I thought that was pretty well proven – like facts count anymore. Thanks for constructing a comment

      Like

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