September 13th, 2008
08:42 AM ET

Swaying in the wind

Jay Schexnyder
CNN Photojournalist
Galveston, Texas

Ike is pounding the hotel. The whole structure is swaying and vibrating! I'd just fallen asleep after 25 hours of being awake, now I've been jolted to life by pounding on the door. A policeman barked, "Go to shelter on second floor!"

The buffeting, roaring wind is freezing me, but maybe I should run. Conflicted.

The walls are thundering. I hear cracking above (the roof peeling away?). Searing, blistering rain against my balcony window. I see the waves below, tops sheared and ramming into the sea wall.

It's the swaying that's getting to me. I'm getting sea-sick, fighting fear and awe. The power of this thing seems evil (fear) and overpowering (awe).

The wobbling of my room, this Blackberry glowing in the dark transfixes me. I'm still not moving.

The first light of dawn is creeping in. I will go down soon. I've lived through plenty of storms. This is a new experience: throbbing walls and swaying buildings....throbbing fatigue and swaying isolation.

Filed under: Hurricane Ike
soundoff (53 Responses)
  1. JC Weston

    I have property in Jamaice Village on the West End (on the bayside). Any hope of seeing footage of the area?

    Also can we get an update on which cell phone towers are out of commission? I'm wiating to hear from a friend that stayed on the island. My last contact with him was Friday at 3:00 PM CST.

    When do we expect to see the airports re-open?

    September 14, 2008 at 3:24 pm |
  2. cameron

    Does anyone know anything about the Tomball, TX area?

    September 14, 2008 at 3:15 pm |
  3. Ric Werme

    Perhaps you aren't cut out for this line of work. Seeking more secure shelter is more important than anything on your Blackberry.

    September 14, 2008 at 3:00 pm |
  4. Sandy

    There is an old saying that the foolish man builds his house upon the sand and when the rains come and the stream rises and the wind blows the house will fall with a great crash. After 2000 years some people still don't get it.

    Barrier islands and sand spits are moving bodies of sand. If you build on them the buildings will fall.

    Why should taxpayers pay for the stupidity of these people, again and again???

    September 14, 2008 at 1:53 pm |
  5. Gayla Mitchell

    I think reporters that stay out in the mess are a bunch of idiots....to put it bluntly. I agree that it conveys that things might not be as bad as people expect and might encourage people to stay, rather than to leave. The media is known for blowing things all out of proportion and most of us only believe maybe half of what they say anyway. Can you tell that I am sick of the media?

    September 14, 2008 at 12:36 pm |
  6. Fitzallen Eldridge

    Dear Jay, My prayers for your return to Atlanta safely have been continuous since I knew you were in Galveston. Your eloquence in describing the devastating battering that has befallen this part of our country makes me think that you should become a freelance writer and stay home where it is warm and safe. Love you Jay...Fitzie

    September 14, 2008 at 10:52 am |
  7. cyd shaw

    any news on bolivar peninsula....crystal beach especially. we all have homes there and they don't report on it.....it was a wonderful beach vacation spot for families

    September 14, 2008 at 10:07 am |
  8. Autumn

    I am at a friends house who has power and I am just now reading this. I have been through a bunch of these storms. Including Hurricane Ike, I would say about 4 or 5 major ones. Listening to winds blowing outside last night, I can tell you the feeling of isolation is real and I can't tell you how many people die each year because they think that Hurricanes are a breeze. Quite frankly sitting in a room without power, I found it comforting that a news reporter was out there to describe the reason for the rooms vibration and cracking sound of the glass when the wind gust picks up. It made me feel less alone. Also, when you are listening to their voices without seeing there faces, I can hear a certain amount of fear that I can relate to last night as well. I was just lucky that my area was not the evacuation zone. With the stome I felt, I feel sorry for the ones that stayed in the evacuation zone. I hope all the reporters got through the storm safely.

    September 14, 2008 at 1:17 am |
  9. Susan Clerke

    Beautiful, brilliant. Please stay out of harm's way. You are all doing wonderful work, but please be careful.

    September 13, 2008 at 10:52 pm |
  10. chuck

    kudos for susan's message. CNN should be more responsible than to send its reporters in harm's way. This is not reporting, but an attempt to entertain which is emblematic of our society and its focus on sensationalizing tragic events. The correspondent was advised to relocate by law enforcement and did not. What sort of example does that send to viewers?

    September 13, 2008 at 8:59 pm |
  11. Patty Thibodeaux

    Please have the coast guard show aerial view starting from Bolivar ferry landing on the bay side up to crystal beach. Everyone is saying Bolivar is totally underwater. Many families evacuated, but are seeing only Galveston views and are wanting to know if Bolivar homes still exist or wandering if they got washed away. Please.. please help us answer this. Specific coodinates: lat/long = /29 degrees 25 min/94degrees 44 min

    September 13, 2008 at 8:55 pm |
  12. susan c.y.deliduka

    frankly, when the media remain in severe storms, filming outside i think it sends a false message to the public; that the evacuations are not aligned with reality and leaving isn't mandatory. reporters should be in shelters demonstrating safety and using webcams to view the storm.

    September 13, 2008 at 4:08 pm |
  13. A Burton

    I was disappointed in one CNN reporter who was saying that by being there and reporting as they do, CNN and other news agencies demonstrate to folks how urgent the situation is and that they need to leave, because it's too dangerous to remain.

    Actually, I think reporters make it look pretty safe. They get wet, and it's windy, but otherwise, when they say "oh my gosh" and the camera zooms over, usually it's a pretty minor thing going on – a piece of siding that is slowing coming off or an awning blowing around. You never get the sense they're in danger (which is fair, you can't put them in danger, so they can't film the worst of it.)

    The problem is, because we just see them getting a bit windy and overdramatizing each shingle that floats by, it doesn't seem at all dangerous to the average viewer. If I was basing my decision to leave next time on what I saw the reporters going through this time, I'd totally stay.

    September 13, 2008 at 2:33 pm |
  14. Rita

    Very well described, I admire your courage for this story. Here in Northern Ohio it is raining like mad. I cant even imagine what is happening there. Please be safe and smart with your activities. I hope and pray the people in that region are safe. God bless and protect you. The storm will be over soon.

    September 13, 2008 at 1:17 pm |
  15. Debbie

    You folks at cnn need to contact Colonial Pipeline and Plantation Pipeline to check on status. These two pipelines supply probably 50-60% of the refined fuel from Houston and Louisiana to the entire eastern seaboard. Until the refineries are back producing, no product will flow through the lines. When the tanks at the tank farms are empty, there will be no gas.

    Here in North Georgia, many of the stations have already run out of gas with long lines and high prices where there is gas.

    Someone needs to take a leadership role and ask the public to conserve over the next week until the supply is back to normal.

    September 13, 2008 at 1:16 pm |
  16. Mr Din Nevada

    To Anna Holsteen. If we dont have CNN what we will know.? Thanks to CNN for sending reporters/casters to cover/telecast all ACTIONS.

    Thanks to Jay Schexnyder, god bless you..be safe..

    September 13, 2008 at 12:51 pm |
  17. John Self

    So, Jay I guess you are feeling like a member of the elitist media, huh? The people who criticize the media do not have a clue. Anyone can run a small town, it takes someone with courage - or a sense thatthey are bulletproof - to do this kind of work.
    Thank you for what you do, and the courage to do it...

    September 13, 2008 at 12:28 pm |
  18. Annie Kate


    Wonderful piece – I got kind of seasick just reading it. I hope you get some rest now and stay safe. I appreciate the work you and the others do to bring pictures and the stories of the events that happen in our world.. This was one for the record books it seems.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    September 13, 2008 at 12:23 pm |
  19. G. Rodriguez

    The people of Houston were very gracious and caring during Katrina and again during Gustav to those of us affected in Louisiana. My prayers go with them and my sincere thanks for their past support. This is what America is all about and one reason why I love this country.

    September 13, 2008 at 11:51 am |
  20. Dolores, Austin Texas

    Anderson, I applaud the CNN crew for doing such a wonderful job keeping us Texans informed through out the night, God bless you guys for risking your own lives, I'm employed by a State Government Agency and we have already received many many of calls regarding the damages from Hurricane Ike. We have been asked to work all weekend and as soon as it is safe, our agency will be sending a lot of us out to assist these good folks with their claims. You guys are awesome, please be safe and again Thanks.

    September 13, 2008 at 11:42 am |
  21. Vicki

    Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the people, rescue personnel, and the news media as this catastrohic storm has hit the Gulf Coast. We just hope and pray that everyone will be able to survive the storm.

    September 13, 2008 at 11:41 am |
  22. Janie Tatsios

    Stay safe, and get some needed rest.

    September 13, 2008 at 11:35 am |
  23. Olga

    I am fascinated with you guys! Your courage is amazing. Thanks for blogging about this! Stay safe.

    September 13, 2008 at 11:29 am |
  24. S Callahan

    Anderson and crew we are so Thankful you guys/gals are okay....
    Thanks for all the blogs you've done to keep us up to date. This certainly was (is)an anxious storm. Get some sleep soon.

    September 13, 2008 at 11:25 am |
  25. PJ Noce

    Jay... Amazingly described. I would have to say that borderlined on poetry. I'm terrified on your behalf but thankful that you're ok. I hope the rest of the crew and everyone in the area makes out ok too.

    September 13, 2008 at 11:05 am |
  26. Pauline Keys

    Thanks for CNN"s indelp and courageous coverage on " Big Ike " hit on Texas. I watch CNN news so much until I feel like an unpaid worker (smile).

    I haven't heard an acessment on how the hospitals and the nursing homes are doing. Maybe while I was asleep it was announced.

    At any rate, we the public appreciate you and all of your colleages for all of the hard and sacraficial work that is dedicated to keep the public informed.

    PS. At now 71 years old, my IQ has been upgraded along with with my vocabulary.


    September 13, 2008 at 10:56 am |
  27. Lisa

    As a refugee of Hurricanes Camille, Andrew, Katrina, Rita and Wilma, I'm telling you Jay – go downstairs and stop screwing around. Don't be an idiot.

    September 13, 2008 at 10:54 am |
  28. Donna

    Choose life, not viewership! Be safe; screw the laptop. You are not replaceable. We tho't CNN was not sending reporters into harm's way. Your writing gives us voyeurship without the danger. Godspeed, all of you. Sleep if you can. ~DFW Donna

    September 13, 2008 at 10:45 am |
  29. AB

    A report from inside Loop 610 in the Heights (Ella and TC Jester area)

    Has been a long night. house shook from the wind swaying light fixtures. Fortunately, boarding up large windows prevented pecans from a tree next door loaded with them from breaking glass. Some trees down, and some large branches broken off.

    Power went out at 10:30pm, street is underwater and rain and wind continue. Looking forward for things to calm down a bit to get the generator out and fire it up.

    Thanks to the verizon aircard that is still up to keep connected via the web.

    September 13, 2008 at 10:36 am |
  30. Nancy

    My aunt lives in Houston but she left for Austin yesterday morning. I hope she and everyone else from Houston and surrounding areas are ok.

    Take care of your pets as well!

    September 13, 2008 at 10:20 am |
  31. Lisa Marchel

    Good advice, Anna. Jay, get your butt out of there and go to where an expert (or at least someone more knowledgeable than you) tells you it's safer. Don't make the macho mistake of saying you've lived through storms before – this is probably the worst storm you've been in, so show some common sense and listen to the cop!!!

    That being said, I hope you make it through. Just remember that no one is indestructable just because they believe they are.

    September 13, 2008 at 10:14 am |
  32. Brenda Cannon Henley

    Thanks for the up-t0-date reporting, but do stay safe.

    Any news on Bolivar Peninsula where we live? I know it is a small place, but it's very important to those of us who live there and love it dearly.

    My husband and I are in Gulf Shores, Alabama and saw what Mighty Ike did to the water here even though the storm was some 250-260 miles out to sea at the time.

    September 13, 2008 at 10:11 am |
  33. Angel N

    I do not envy you but your bravery and dedication is more than appreciated. You really should consider being a writer. It's a little safer and you wrote that with so much detail and feeling.
    Very well written "blog". Detailed. Lost of adjectives and verbs. Keep up the good work. May God bless and keep you adn all the rest safe.

    September 13, 2008 at 9:43 am |
  34. Margie K.

    Thank you for being our "Eyes and Ears"!!!!
    Be safe!!

    September 13, 2008 at 9:43 am |
  35. Sherri Jeakins

    Thanks for blooging and keeping everyone updated. I live in Bloomington, IL and trying to provide any damage assessments to the Bolivar Pennisula. My parents live in Crystal Beach and are staying in OK but they don't have good TV coverage for the storm. I am desperate for any updates/coverage of the Pennisula area in Bolivar. I know it is going to be devasation but pray for something to be left for them. God Bless you all and please stay safe.

    September 13, 2008 at 9:40 am |
  36. Cindy

    Watching from Oshawa, Ontario, Canada, we've been watching the broadcast ,last night and this morning, breathless at some moments, it looked so frightening. Excellent CNN coverage as usual.
    Our thoughts are with you, and the residents. I'm sure we'll be there to assist if necessary. Thank God we don't get these weather conditions here.

    September 13, 2008 at 9:40 am |
  37. kathy

    I've been concerned about the family of 16 that stayed behind on the island to weather the storm. Has anyone heard from them?

    My heart goes out to those children. The fear they must have felt because of the poor decision of their parents. Foolish

    September 13, 2008 at 9:35 am |
  38. Dawn in Michigan

    WHERE IS ELEENA??? the little ole lady who wouldn't leave her pets??????? I am worried about her. I hope anderson follows up on her. My heart goes out to all texans effected. I cant even imagine. In Michigan most I worry about is an ice storm in the winter.

    September 13, 2008 at 9:35 am |
  39. MP

    Thanks for blogging Jay. I'm in Atlanta and trying to track what is happening out of serious concern for my sister and her family in Houston.

    I lived through Alicia with them 25 years ago and it is still the most frightening experience of my life. Violent winds over 100 miles an hour that went on for hours. Talk about feeling helpless.

    September 13, 2008 at 9:33 am |
  40. Anna Holsteen

    Beautiful, eloquent writing, but why are you ignoring the sound advice of the policeman who is telling you to seek shelter lower! You are in danger. Go now! The whole area has been evacuated. I think it is absolutely ridiculous that CNN would send their employees into harms way just to give us more "up to the minute news". God Bless. I wish you the best. Your job is not worth your life.

    September 13, 2008 at 9:28 am |
  41. Carole Gauthier Lancon

    Hey Jay, As a fellow lafayette Parish native, I'm sending you lots of positive vibes. IWe've just got the wind & rain here in lafayette. I 'm so proud of my former student from Comeaux High! Go Spartans!-
    -your old art teacher under Missie

    September 13, 2008 at 9:16 am |
  42. David

    Hang in there brother. It will all be over soon. Your coverage as usual is always appreciated. Stay safe. Post Gustave and on the fringes of Ike, we're ready for the wind and rain just to go away for a while. From central LA,...... David reporting.

    September 13, 2008 at 9:15 am |
  43. Max

    It sounds like you need to go to bed.

    September 13, 2008 at 9:09 am |
  44. Felicia Adams

    Stay strong. You may feel alone, but you aren't. Thanks for all you are doing reporting this storm. I have loved ones all up and down the coastal area where the storm is hitting. It's watching/reading your words that is keeping me feeling like I at least know what is going on. You are appreciated for your efforts.

    September 13, 2008 at 9:07 am |
  45. Tom B

    The force of the storm really sounds terrifying. Take care and stay safe.

    September 13, 2008 at 9:07 am |
  46. Elaine Gardner

    WOW! You can't get more visual than that! Thank you for a post that brings US right there with you! Wonderfully expressive post!

    September 13, 2008 at 9:02 am |
  47. Sheila

    Careful! Be safe.

    September 13, 2008 at 9:01 am |
  48. Karen Lacy

    Jay, I hope you make it out safely. What a difficult situation to be in. However, I always have concerns when reporters stay behind to report in dangerous conditions.

    Is our need to know what is happening in the world more important than the safety of photojournalists who televise and broadcast to try to satisfy that need to know? I am dismayed to see reporters in harms way when others are allowed to leave. If something happened to one of them live, I know I would be greatly upset, and perhaps even feel a little guilty, as a viewer.

    September 13, 2008 at 8:57 am |
  49. Kimberly Priesman

    Beautifully terrifying, mother nature in all her wrath and glory. My prayers are with you and everyone in the way of this storm. Thank you and your crew for your bravery and putting yourself in harms way so that the rest of the world can see just what this hurricane is doing!

    September 13, 2008 at 8:57 am |
  50. Ronan

    You're not alone we are all here hoping for the best.

    September 13, 2008 at 8:51 am |
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