House Appears to Be the Lone Survivor In Its Neighborhood

Why was this house in Gilchrist spared?

Why was this house in Gilchrist spared?

I’m hoping that someone can explain this to me.  I saw a photo of this house this morning in the St. Petersburg Times, print version.  It was not hard to find photos of it on several websites this evening.  I have many questions and no answers.  It was described in the paper and on television as being in Gilchrist, Texas.  I did a Google Earth survey of Gilchrist where I could get an oblique view as well as a vertical view close enough to the surface to easily be able to see the gross details of the structures.   I also did visible scans as close as I could get to the surface using Map Quest and Google Maps.  I was unable, using cues from the photograph, to find the house.  This leads me to believe that it is new.

Was it built under a different set of codes than the totally destroyed dwellings on that beachfront strip?

Was it built by a very smart contractor or owner well beyond the requirements of the existing codes?

Is it safely habitable now?  It appears to me that there is considerable erosion, even undercutting, at the margins of the structure.

If it is not safely habitable can the weaknesses be relatively easily repaired?

Someone on the Weather Channel said that the reason it survived is because it was elevated.  It doesn’t seem likely to me that it was the only elevated house in that lengthy flattened strip.  Why did others not survive?

Could there possibly be some sort of breakwater or wall out of range of the photo that could have protected this structure more than the others?

Wouldn’t it be interesting to know why this house was the lone survivor within the scope of this photo?

Does anyone know the story of this house?

Please visit the rest of this web-log at  If you are interested in weather, there are some tutorial items scattered about and more will be added in time.  At the end of this page there is a cue to click to the previous page or the next page.

16 comments so far

  1. tavaruagrl on

    I would LOVE to know the answer to this question as well… CNN has a similar shot posted reflecting the damage from Ike. If you receive any information about this home, please post. Thanks…

    • pearl on

      this hime is at rolloverpasss ,gilchrist, texas. it was the only home on the beach side of hwy 87 in Gilchrist to make it1

    • Cloudman23 on

      This is Cloudman23 replying. Yes, you are correct. You have responded to an old posting from September 16, 2008. The house’s location was quickly noted and it is discussed in later postings on this web-log. In fact, if you use Google Earth you might find it interesting to know that the house shows up clearly there. I measured this morning that it is only 14/100 (.14) miles from the pass itself – a very short walk. Thanks for your input, Pearl.

  2. Ken on

    I can make some guesses why this house was left. I can also help with it’s location. The key is the presence of the two whitish areas east of the house. The one south of the hwy is where Julie’s Market used to be. Julie’s went out of business years ago. A patch of dark vegatation west of Julie’s can be seen in both the picture and Google maps.

    Across the hwy is where the Little Pair Grocery was. That puts the house on Church St, a few streets east of Rollover. But, Google Maps shows a house with a different roof line at this location. Other details are the same or similar – the deck on the south side and the stairs (missing in the picture) coming up on the west side in the center. Differences are the lack of the driveway pad and a roof of the wrong color. I suspect maybe the roof was damaged in Rita and was replaced.

    Why did it survive? Not because it’s on piers. Sometimes I wonder if anyone reading news on tv has anything more than a high school education. 99% of the houses are elevated on piers. Very few of those survived, including mine, which was on 8′ piers sunk 6′ into the ground anchored in concrete. Actually, according to the NOAA picture, the piers are still there; only the cabin is gone.

    What may have helped is a wall just south of the house, missing in the picture, but shown on Google maps. There is also another structure south of the wall which probably helped keep the water from scouring the lawn area just south of the house. And then there’s also the protection the large L-shaped building north of the house provided.

    Inhabitable? It’s hard to say. It may be salvageable, but it’s going to be a long time before Gilchrist is a town again, if at all. All the business’s are gone; almost all the cabins are gone.

    In the distance, north of the hwy, a white building with an open garage door can be seen. Just past that is Waco St. and Faggard’s Slip Rd. My cabin, all the cabins, on Faggard’s Slip are gone. The NOAA photos show maybe a couple of cabins left on Waco St near the hwy.

    I inherited my cabin from my Dad who inherited it from his Dad who built it in the 40’s. It was a fisherman’s cabin, not a vacation cabin, very rustic and not much to look at. But it held a lot of memories. My brother had planned to move there when he retired. Perhaps we’ll rebuild, perhaps not. It won’t be anytime soon.

  3. tavaruagrl on

    This link only provides an alternate view of the house, but doesn’t give any other information as to why it was left standing… fyi.

  4. Amber on

    This may or may not answer a few questions. I found this at along with 199 other pics.

  5. rgaston on

    I found this picture which suggest the house survived because it is the higest ground.

  6. Mary on

    I’m thinking that whoever built that house will be highly sought after when it comes to people wanting to rebuild. starting with ours first-ha.

  7. ana maria anders on

    I think this house is protected by GOD Himself.
    God is alive!

  8. Amber on

    These houses were in or near Gilchrist. They are on the bay side of the road past the Firehouse grill.

  9. Greg on

    Has anyone confirmed positively that the house was located there before the storm. I postulate that Ike relocated the house from a different location.

  10. Jay on

    Here’s one link to the story. The people had it built to withstand a Cat 5 storm.

  11. Larry Street on

    I read that the house that the surviving home was rebuilt in 2006 to withstand a cat 5 hurricane.

  12. don miller on

    A house built to Dade county Fl (Miami) current building codes must withstand 155 mph sustained winds. I regularly go to Key West and my friend’s new home is built like a bank vault. A small home, the foundation cost over $150,000. Reinforced concrete and steel foundation, floor and walls are tied into the roof with hurricane straps and steel cables.Storm surge causes the most damage to this type of home but most will survive. He left to Tampa when storms approached

  13. Trang tin công nghệ on

    I savor, result in I discovered just what I was having a look for. You have ended my 4 day lengthy hunt! God Bless you man. Have a great day. Bye

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