Ed Lavandera | BIO
CNN Correspondent in Houston, Texas
Susan Wood feels like she’s the victim of a cruel practical joke.
Her next door neighbor’s power, in the Houston suburb of Bellaire, has been restored. All her neighbors across the street have power. Even the family that lives behind her has power. But Susan Wood sits in the dark waiting for the lights, and air conditioning, to turn on.
“It’s crazy. It doesn’t have any rhyme or reason to it,” said Wood. “So now we’re irritated.”
About 500,000 people across the Houston region are still without electrical power nearly two weeks after Hurricane Ike struck the southeast Texas coast.
Yesterday, we received an amazing submission from iReport.com user 'austinheli.' His photos showed a lone house standing in a wasteland left in Ike's aftermath.
We contacted austinheli, who is Ray Asgar, a private helicopter pilot based in Austin, Texas. He visited Gilchrist and Galveston Monday to photograph the damage left after Hurricane Ike slammed the coastal area last weekend.
The lone yellow house caught Asgar's attention. He said it was the only structure standing for miles. Considering the extent of Ike's devastation, he said, it was "odd to have nearly any damage to one home."
Several users left comments on Asgar's iReport, joining a debate about whether or not his photos were real. One user who jumped in was Kelley1. "This is my sister's house. It is real," she wrote.
Up for the assignment? Go to iReport.com to submit your iReports!
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.
Task Force Ike, made up of 25 local, state and federal agencies, began leaving San Antonio headed toward the areas affected by Hurricane Ike.
The force of 1,500 people is made up of paramedics, Texas military, heavy equipment and mobile command centers. The force lead by Texas Military Col. John F. Nichols said this is, “the first time that so many agencies have come together to create such a mass strike force.”
The massive deployment of over 700 vehicles traveling to the effected areas will help clear roads, assist anyone injured and rescue those in need. The force is part a larger force of search and rescue members consisting of helicopters and ground search and rescue teams.
SURFSIDE BEACH, Texas - Surfside's Mayor Larry Davidson says 20 homes are destroyed.
The island is trashed with household items including refrigerators, grills, and furniture scattered about the island. A storm surge of up to 12 feet flooded the island - population of about 1,000.
The Surfside police chief tells us it's pretty devastated.
"We've got houses blown into houses and in bits and pieces ... Of the 10 or so homes (on stilts) on one end of the beach, maybe two are left ... They're just in pieces. It's a mess."
Chief Smith says the man who refused to leave the island is OK: "Roy Wilkinson? He's fine, sittin' on his front porch taking it all in."
Smith's own home, built just four months ago is standing. It's flooded on the ground-floor storage area. Living area above on stilts is mainly OK.
The chief says there was a suspected chemical leak at one of the many petrochemical plants in Clute and around the port of Freeport but it turned out to be false. He says there are no problems at any of the plants.
Crews are already trying to remove debris from beach roads.
It may not look like much but this is our location where we are protected from the nasty gusts and stinging rain Ike is throwing at us. It was quite the trip to get over here.
We ran what was supposed to be a short distance to the parking garage at the back of the hotel. The wind made that short walk take what seemed like an eternity.
As I stayed low and forced my way through the winds I got to the garage and realized no one was behind me. I turned and saw Gary Tuchman helping one of our crew members, Lisa Britton as she was struggling through the wind.
My colleague Augie Martin and I made our way back to Gary and Lisa and we all made it to this spot in the parking garage where we are protected from winds to broadcast live.
Military search and rescue teams arrived today at Randolph Air Force Base in San Antonio to set up staging operations. Helicopters teams from the 331st Air Expeditionary Group following the storm will assist Texas officials search for people in trouble.
In preparation for their missions starting tomorrow, a command center was being wired at the last minute. The public affairs official took the media on a tour of the nerve center that was filled with electricians, IT specialists and radio controllers. Col Steve Kirkpatrick said the staff would work through the night to have a high tech headquarter ready by morning.
Editor’s Note: The following is a first-person account by James McFadden, a NOAA official flying through Hurricane Ike to gain information on the storm. He shares this dispatch from their airplane:
James McFadden PhD
Chief of programs at the NOAA Aircraft Operations Center
Good evening from Hurricane Ike as it begins to make its way onshore in the Galveston, TX area.
We are aboard one of NOAA's two WP-3D Orions completing a series of seven consecutive missions at 12 hour intervals into Ike that began Tuesday afternoon and culminating with the flight of NOAA 42, also known as Kermit, this evening.
Susan Candiotti | BIO
CNN National Correspondent
How do you explain why a father would think he could ride out a storm with his teenage children?
On the island called Surfside Beach, a father did just that. Police finally convinced him to get out and all three got on a couple of jet skis with their two dogs.
The dad didn't want to talk about it and sounded cavalier when I asked him why he waited til waves were chest high to get out. "The surf is great," he told me offhandedly.
About a dozen rescue workers risked their lives to get them out of harm's way. A police sargeant shook his head. "We beg 'em and beg 'em to leave and then they cry for help."
Go figure. How can a dad put his children's lives at risk?
Editor's note: CNN iReporter George Holleran, a storm chaser, drove all the way from Panama City, Florida, to Galveston Island, Texas, where he captured incredible video. He shares what its like on the ground. (Is Ike affecting you? Send us your photos and video.)
This is the pier on Galveston Island. I stood on the seawall as the waves were breaking onto the road in front of it. Behind me, well below the seawall height are hundreds of homes. Many were occupied awaiting certain disaster.
This is a video of the other side of Galveston Island. The Bay side. As you can see these homes are already experiencing massive flooding. Video was taken at least 12 hours before the crest of the storm surge.