September 13th, 2008
11:02 PM ET

With no flood insurance, man kayaks out of living room

Rick Bastien
CNN Media Producer

Dennis Norris doesn’t have flood insurance, but his first floor condo in Seabrook, Texas, flooded last night when Hurricane Ike brought waves crashing over the shore and through the condominium complex. Dennis had nowhere else to put his belongings and no one to help him move them so he stacked them high on this bed, hoping the rising water wouldn’t get to them.

His sofas and coffee tables are ruined, soaking up the murky brown water shimmering with a film of fuel that leaked from the boats in the marina. The marina is now in pieces floating amongst the condos; the boats meander, too, damaging the exteriors of the buildings or washing up on filthy pavement.

But Dennis didn’t need the marina, he kept his kayak in his condo, and today he was able to paddle his way out of his home with the carefree attitude of someone who has just lost his home and does not yet have an answer.

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Filed under: Hurricane Ike
soundoff (39 Responses)
  1. Dana

    My heart aches for the victims of this horrible storm. I was born and raised in Houston and have lived here all of my life. We were without power until a few hours ago so we could only imagine the amount of destruction that our friends on the coast had to go through. We spent most of Friday night and early Saturday morning huddled in our bedroom with our 4 cats listening to the wind beat at our building. We woke up to hundreds of dead sparrows, tree limbs, downed fences and no power in the Texas heat and humidity. That was nothing compared to what the people at the coast endured and are still facing.

    Am I the only person that can't believe that Michael Chertoff held on to his job after the catastrophe during Hurricane Katrina? What is going on in my community right now is yet another example of how certain departments of our government can not get their acts together. Everyone in the country new the hurricane was going to hit somewhere on the Texas coast on Friday evening or early Saturday morning for at least 3 days before it hit. We all had time to go to the store at least twice to stock up on supplies, tape windows and hunker down. Yet FEMA did not get the ice, water and food supplies for the victims to Houston until a few hours ago – 1 and 1/2 days after the storm passed. Does anyone else find that unacceptable?? We have people here that have literally walked for miles for two 8oz bottles of water and those are the lucky ones. Others have not had anything to eat or drink since Friday night.

    The coast guard has been flying over the area since the storm passed surveying damage. What kept them from dropping food/water to the people they were flying over. FEMA kept the supplies in San Antonio. I have driven from Houston to San Antonio countless times and it has never taken me more than 3 1/2 hours to get there not 1 1/2 days!!!

    While I'm on my soapbox I'll ask another question. Where are the presidential candidates? Shouldn't they be down here at least acting like they care about their people in need? I think I heard on the news that McCain attended a NASCAR race today and then went to a bar with a baseball player? Where was Barack Obama? Shouldn't they be trying to get help to the people that need it? What does that say about their commitment to the people they want to govern?

    I apologize if I have offended anyone but I am so tired of people not stepping up to the plate and actually doing what they claim to be capable of doing. My hat goes off to Mayor Bill White, I only wish that he was running for President.

    September 15, 2008 at 1:39 am |
  2. Worries Texas

    Wanted to let those who may have some ability to help- the media in Texas has been blocked from seeing all of the damage. In particular, Bolivar Peninsula, which is east of Galveston. Please help Texans find out why no media is allowed to see what has happened to this part of Texas! All we have been told is that the FAA will not allow any media helicopters to fly into that area, but what has happened to the people and homes there?

    Why can't we know the truth?

    September 15, 2008 at 12:11 am |
  3. Trish A

    I dunno but Flood Insurance or not I wouldn't have been there to pile some of my furniture on the bed or paddle my way out of the condo in my Kayak! I'd of been long gone after hearing the first report of how serious IKE was going to be and furniture and Kyak be Dammed! My mother always told me, "God helps those who help themselves."

    September 14, 2008 at 11:50 pm |
  4. Betty Ann, Nacogdoches,TX

    I know there are a lot of people hurting right now because of Ike.
    We have a lot of people without homes from evacuating the gulf.
    I just got my internet up and don't even know how the gulf survived.
    I live 2 hours north of Houston and the only reason I got power was because I live close to a evacuation shelter.
    Lots of trees through homes here and people who don't even know if they have a home when they return. So sad.
    MY son and fam are ok. They are helping in Houston.
    Take care and let me know If there is anything else I can do.

    September 14, 2008 at 11:36 pm |
  5. Annie Kate

    I hope his things stayed dry on the bed so he at least has that left. The flooding is terrible and its so hard to clean up – we got flooded once after a bad storm in Tennessee and had no flood insurance either so I can sympathize. I wish him and all the others good luck.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    September 14, 2008 at 11:34 pm |
  6. JT

    How high is the water?

    September 14, 2008 at 11:09 pm |
  7. TX


    September 14, 2008 at 10:27 pm |
  8. Peace Out

    The Salvation Number to call is 1-800-725-2769 ! Hang in there Texas ! All donations appreciated !

    September 14, 2008 at 9:39 pm |
  9. Lea Hernandez

    It's not carefree as much as such a deep shock that you think, "Why not?"

    September 14, 2008 at 9:30 pm |
  10. nennie

    i am so sorry i wish i had some money to send to help you out but i have none we don't get the weather you get there i guess we should be glad for that my prayers go out to all of you good luck

    September 14, 2008 at 9:20 pm |
  11. Amanda

    Those of us sitting outside the path of the storm have a duty. It's our responisiblity to pay witness and hold accountable those of us who ask to be in the positions of looking out for our collective welfare- be it in local, state or federal levels.

    That's the crux of representative democracy, for better or for worse.

    It's things like this blog that make us better citizens. It drives home bits of the social spectrum that we are all apart of.

    This man's story could be any one from my late-20's/ early 30's generation. We live in an increasingly complex world full of remarkable events, both good and bad. We are taking incredible gamble with our livelihoods and our security, placing ephermeral pleasure and profit over long-term, steady investment. Flash in the pan versus commitment. We've learned well from our boomer parents- a little too well.

    Can one man in a kayak, leaving everything he owns behind, shake up the world? Maybe. Probably not.

    In any case, I hope he stays afloat, both literally and figureatively. As cliche it may sound, my heart goes out to him.

    We are all in the same boat.

    September 14, 2008 at 9:08 pm |
  12. LaToya

    Where are the priorities of the people in charge. Why have we restored power to a high end mall (the Galleria) and not to the citizens of Houston. I literally live down the street from this mall and still I have no electricity or water. What are we going to buy at this mall that sells gucci, chanel, and dior?? I don't understand.....are we supposed to go shopping? And the local media has been announcing this as if they are open to help.......and somebody please to me, where is FEMA??

    September 14, 2008 at 8:53 pm |
  13. Randy OConnor

    I would just like to comment on the anger and frustration I have listening to the so called “victims” of Hurricane Ike. My heart goes out to those who have lost everything but the clothes on their back. I feel the pain of those who have had years of possessions and memories removed from them. I reserve these emotions for those who heeded the warnings and left or could not leave. I have lived through a category 4 hurricane in 1992 with recorded wind gusts up to 227 mph. During hurricane Iniki we had no where to go as we were on an island. Everyone took the warnings seriously. Anyone close to the coast evacuated to an inland shelter. There were instances of people who lived inland who lost roofs and possessions but due to the ability of the local residence to be intelligent enough to heed the weather service only 4 lives were lost, and 2 of them were at sea at the time.

    I watch with anger and disgust the people telling their close brushes with death because they were smart enough to stay, even though the national weather services used the phase eminent death. How more plan can you be? I was watching the early stages of the storm as the coast guard had some 1400 calls for rescue after the waters started rising. These calls of able bodied people took precious time away from rescuers to find people who were NOT able to leave without assistance. I watched a reporter interviewing a man who was telling of how the water was filling up in his house and how his two boys sitting on the couch in life jackets got sharpies to write their names and social security on their arms so their bodies could be identified. I listened to another story of a family that were sleeping and the roof blew off and he grabbed his daughter by the arm just before she was blown from the house. Personally I believe these two families should have their children taken from them for child endangerment.

    I listen and become sick when I think theses people who “CHOSE” to stay put their children and rescuers lives at risk. I do realize that not all of the people had a choice, but for those who did I feel rage. To think that people would not only have so little regard for their own lives but that of their families and officials responsible for their well being, I believe it should be criminal. I live in Arizona now and we have a law on the books now called the “Stupid Motorist Law” It is for motorists that chose to ignore barricades and drive through flooded areas. If they are stranded they will be fined and have to pay for their own rescue. Perhaps the coastal states should pass some similar laws to protect the people who don’t have choices, like the rescuers and the children of the idiots.

    September 14, 2008 at 8:45 pm |
  14. Diane

    Red Cross is seeking donations nationwide through television commercials to help in their Hurricane Ike effort. As a California resident who donated when Hurricane Katrina hit, I would like to know what the big oil companies in the affected areas are doing to help? Is Exxon Mobil, with the biggest refinery in the U.S. located in the region and the biggest profits — making significant donations to the Red Cross and/or other organizations? Their enormous profitability is due to the hard work of their employees who live in the devastated Gulf coast towns and to all Americans who must buy their outrageously expensive gas. I have watched this tragedy unfold day and night, just as I did with Hurricane Katrina with sadness and compassion for the people and animals affected. But when I see this tragedy unfolding in the shadow of these huge refineries, it is difficult to be motivated to give this time around when the oil companies, together, could foot the entire bill, or at least, make a significant effort to help their town, their employees and the town residents and businesses that make their business run.

    Keeping them honest, Anderson, what are they doing financially to help?

    Diane, Santa Cruz, California

    September 14, 2008 at 8:19 pm |
  15. Tavi

    My heart goes out to everyone affected by Ike. We may think that, because the death toll is very low, they haven't lost much. The truth is, this has only just begun, and they have a hard road ahead.

    I have really appreciated your mini-blogs throughout Ike and its aftermath. I can't sit and watch and wait for a television updates to come along, but I can check a tweet at a moment's notice. This is a perfect way to keep updated with the news. You have great style, Anderson – Thank you!

    September 14, 2008 at 8:14 pm |
  16. Bart

    I'm sorry but why is it that so many of these people stay put when they were told they faced "certain death" and what is the additional cost to the American taxpayer associated with all of these "rescues"? This is just one more example of the Texas pigheaded stubbornness that has plagued this country for the last eight years and I for one am absolutely sick of it! Let them fend for themselves!

    September 14, 2008 at 8:08 pm |
  17. Penny Kane, Waterford, Michigan

    How do you think the lack of power etc will affect the election (mostly no power)?

    September 14, 2008 at 7:25 pm |
  18. Penny Kane, Waterford, Michigan

    The people that refuse to leave should be charged. Big Time, at least with MANY hours of community service. They had to do that in some Michigan communities for Ice fisherman that drive their trucks out onto the ice during January thaw. Resources should not be wasted at that point on people that can’t follow directions or think they know better.
    Penny Kane, Waterford, Michigan

    September 14, 2008 at 7:17 pm |
  19. Cathy Pack

    Did the people of Texas ever hear of preparing for a hurricane? They need to talk to someone from FL or LA and get a grip. Never saw so much debris, never saw so many boats left in a marina, how arrogant are the people of TX???? When the weather people tell you to evacuate or it is "certain death" maybe someone should listen and get out....90,000 people stayed thinking Ike was nothing, HELLO...Did they see what Katrina did? Did the people of Galvaston and Houston think they can mess with mother nature? Apparently so, duh, now they're going to ask for money, rescue, FEMA, you name it, 30 floors of a skyscraper lost its windows? They did not think Ike was serious and now they are going to pay, I have been through 5 hurricanes, you board up, put all your outside things inside, you don't jeopardize other people with arrogance.......

    September 14, 2008 at 7:09 pm |
  20. susan

    people on the streets don't seem too fazed, even without electricity and lack of ice. We do however see local businesses more effective in moving bottled water and ice across the region... Texas based businesses like HEB seem to be more effective in distributing these essentials than FEMA. Why? because it's driven by business and community which in this case helps out the needy as well

    September 14, 2008 at 6:50 pm |
  21. Stever

    Wow ! , and some people here in Calif. are worried about earthquakes ! Thankfully we dont have them with the regularity of hurricane season. I have family in lower Alabama and they are in the region where many of the storms happen, but fortunately they have never been hit hard where they are. Ike and the others have really managed to make a mess of things and make life rough for those who live in the Galveston & Houston area. I hope they get all the help available, especially those hit the hardest who may have lost all they owned. My prayers are with you! Peace.Sincerely,Stever (nr SFBay Area)

    September 14, 2008 at 6:32 pm |
  22. michelle

    cnn needs to get the facts accurate when reporting the impact of Ike on houston, texas. I just watched a news report by Don Lemon at 5pm (CDT) who was speaking of people who did not comply with the mandatory evacuation in Houston (video coverage depicting the high water on I-10 to Downtown along with the Westcott and Washington frwy exit – with an elderly couple getting assistance from their car in flood water). It is important to note that there was not a mandatory evacuation for Houstonians - as I live there near Downtown (Heights area) - thus it is irresponsible to report and imply that people stranded by flood waters are responsible for their situation - as this is not true. Yes, I do agree that people who stayed in the area where there was a mandatory evacuation do need to take some responsibility for their situation but not everyone who is experiencing the wrath of Ike was in the mandatory evacuation area.

    September 14, 2008 at 6:30 pm |
  23. stormerF

    Those rescued need to fork up the funds for it and not us taxpayers after all they were told to leave.Insurance is a evil necessity and everyone knows it so if they choose not to have it its up to them not the rest of us tomake up for their choices.

    September 14, 2008 at 6:02 pm |
  24. Cherryrn

    Help these people on the 14 th too and after that as long as they need it.

    September 14, 2008 at 5:23 pm |
  25. Philoan Tran

    As a Houstonian who survives Hurricane Ike with no problem, my heart and prayers go out to all of those victims in Galveston-Houston area who were not so lucky. Kudos to the local authorities for the wonderful efforts in evacuating the mass of people before the Hurricane Ike and for their search and rescue efforts. I hope that CNN will cover the delays by FEMA to get the water and food supply in the hardest hit areas even though FEMA had plenty of time to prepare for this Hurricane Ike. FEMA and the Federal government are completely inept and incompetent!

    September 14, 2008 at 4:23 pm |
  26. J. Howe

    Here I sit on a hot humid day in Ontario, Canada. We are waiting for the rains of Ike to arrive tonight as just a lot of rain and some wind.
    I feel very lucky that although we get snow, and ice storms it is nothing compared to a hurricane. Snow at least stays outside and as long as your off the roads its quite pretty to look at. Eventually the snow ends and you dig out but its really not that bad. I'll try to remember how thankful I am this winter. We are thinking of you all, our neighbours to the South. Stay safe.

    September 14, 2008 at 3:55 pm |
  27. Elizabeth

    Dennis was smart to keep his boat inside!! One of the good things about Texans is they help each other. My family is still there – Austin, SA, Houston and in New Orleans and Bay St. Louis, MS. I got a call today from a friend where a relative called from League City needing help – that many thought Ike wouldn't be that bad. These are smart people – working at NASA! They did not obtain provisions where they are posted on this site and everywhere – emergency prepardness is a priority especially when you live on the Gulf you need to be prepared always. My other relatives lost two homes – once in Camille and then Katrina. Down in League City they said snakes are in the attic now – and they are everywhere – they said rattlesnakes but I'm sure they are water moccasins – along with the fire ants. Loved how Anderson Cooper was dogging the water moccasin in the water – he reports as it is – he's first rate and people need to see this and be aware. From experience, the insurance agencies and agents seem to have more compassion in Texas. I worked for the State Insurance Board in Austin before I moved to New Mexico and thankfully 5000 feet above sea level with little humidity and hardly any mosquitoes. Once a storm hits the Gulf you cannot purchase insurance – all mother carriers shut down. Spoke to agent friend in Texas and they want to help the people with claims as fast as possible. Learn from your mistakes, help others to not make the same mistakes. Learn from Carla, Rita, Alica, Katrina . . . it always happens to someone else, right? As always, CNN has has the best coverage for Ike coming ashore. Anderson, stay safe, an Aunt told me the moccasins come out at dusk and they will chase you so be careful – also if it smells like watermelon – there's one or a few nearby! Good thing to know! Read blogs after tragedies – they provide so much information that is helpful to others!

    September 14, 2008 at 3:07 pm |
  28. Tax Watcher

    Why is the media interviewing these idiots that choose to ignore the hurricane warnings that results in a slowdown of the recovery process by wasting resources spent on their rescue. It cost the government over $2000 per hour to run a single blackhawk helicopter. These fools that needed to be rescued should be sentenced to a year of community service, and not receive the $2400 FEMA handout. Actually I blame all the media in the first place because their presence gives the residence the idea it’s safe to stay. It won’t be until the Weather Channel satellite truck gets blown away along with its crew will people heed the warnings.

    September 14, 2008 at 1:12 pm |
  29. LynnTTT

    Please stop interviewing those idiot people in galveston etc who ignored orders to evacuate. Now we see the National Guard spending our tax dollars rescuing them off their roofs, giving them their "15 minutes of fame" on national TV. Let the young guys with the cigarettes hanging out of their mouths stay on top of the house they refused to leave for about 24 hours. Maybe next time they'll act responsibly and leave. All the press is doing is encouraging this behavior.

    September 14, 2008 at 12:28 pm |
  30. Ross Lunsford

    Please get someone down to the Galveston County Jail, where 1000+ inmates were left in the jail despite an "evacuate or die" order for everyone else. Such utter inhumanity would not be shown to a dog or cat. These are human beings. The comments on blogs by various Texans bespeak an attitude of "let'm die" and they may very well be dead. The jail is 1-story high. GET SOMEONE DOWN THERE!!

    -ross in atlanta

    September 14, 2008 at 12:27 pm |
  31. Marta Gaffney

    People are still missing; there are no lists or contact numbers or anyone taking information on people who haven't checked in yet after the storm. Some families are just sitting and waiting for a phone to ring, and listening to so many take license to criticize people for not getting out. That is so unfair; you need to do a story about why people can't leave in spite of all the offers of buses, etc. Trust me; some people would have loved to leave but could not. And it is cruel to them and their families to encourage the public to find fault with them; this just makes everyone turn their backs on VICTIMS OF THIS STORM.

    September 14, 2008 at 12:16 pm |
  32. Joelle

    saying good bye in the high tide...

    September 14, 2008 at 11:14 am |
  33. Susan Etzold

    I am mad as all get out with a particular hotel in Abbeville, LA. My brother-in-law and his wife evacuated Bridge City, TX as they were asked to do in plenty of time to avoid the storm. My sister-in-law recently had a knee replacement and due to problems has had a spacer in place of the knee after an infection set in. She was released from the hospital one week before Ike hit. They went to the Extended Stay Inn & Suites in Abbeville, LA and were assured that due to her inability to walk that they could stay there till they could get home. They were told yesterday that they have to leave today, Sept 14, apparently due to storm clean-up crews coming and needing rooms. I am appalled with this blatant lack of concern for an invalid and her husband.

    September 14, 2008 at 9:22 am |
  34. cardinal

    People that use the PETS as an excuse not to leave in disaster are selfish fools that are willing to place others in harms way for an animal. Spot or Wiskers while you may be attached to them are livestock. Any animal can be replaced. As for the folks that wouldnot leave thier reptiles and other creatures, Perhaps they could afford to drive 50-100 miles inland if they spent less on pet food and buying these things in the first place.
    I have worked as a PIO in major disasters and know there is almost always a place to go that may not be the most comfortable but its better than losing your life. People need to step out the old comfort zone and leave the flat screen behind. Quit relying on someone to do something for you and step up.

    September 14, 2008 at 8:41 am |
  35. Lynn Grimberg

    Sounds like Dennis has an unusual but fantastic attitude – great story!

    September 14, 2008 at 8:24 am |
  36. Dallas

    Saw an interview with a victim of Ike, although she certainly isn't the victim. The puppies she left in a crate in her flooded house are the victims. Her comment after pointing out the dead puppies, "I hope FEMA helps us". How dare she leave those puppies in a crate to drown. Help yourself!!, you should have helped those puppies instead of locking them in a crate doomed to certain death.This makes me sick.

    September 14, 2008 at 7:33 am |
  37. Abbe Eason

    I empathize with Dennis and the many people who share his fate. I don't know how he is projecting a carefree attitude, but I hope there is some sort if help out there for him. Unfortunately, I am so disillusioned with the state of help for citizens who need it, that I doubt there is any help for him or the many people who will need it desperately. Good luck.

    September 14, 2008 at 7:30 am |