Location of Gilchrist House Confirmed!

Thanks to images posted by Dr. Jeff Masters this morning on the WeatherUnderground.com site, aerial images before and after have confirmed the location of the lonely little house that seems to have survived the ravages of Ike.  I have reworked the scale of the images he posted and placed red arrows marking the house that has been being addressed in this web-log.  It confirms the suspicions of myself and others that the house was either rebuilt or replaced between the time that Google loaded it’s images and today.  After I post the before and after images I will paste in Dr. Masters’ specific comments about Gilchrist.  Remember, for an enlarged view – left click two times.

Why did Gilchrist get destroyed

and Will Gilchrist be rebuilt?

By Dr. Jeff Masters

WeatherUnderground.com http://www.wunderground.com/tropical/

“It’s rare to see a town so completely destroyed by a hurricane, to the point where you can’t even see the wreckage. The neighboring towns of Crystal Beach, to the south, and High Island, to the north, were also mostly destroyed, but weren’t swept clean of nearly all structures and wreckage. This is because Gilchrist was built in an unusually vulnerable place. It’s bad enough to situate your town on a low-lying peninsula, as was the case for Crystal Beach. But in Gilchrist’s case, the town was located at the narrowest point of the Bolivar Peninsula, at a point where it was only a few hundred meters wide (Figure 2). Not only did Gilchrist suffer a head-on assault by Ike’s direct storm surge of 14+ feet, topped by 20′ high battering waves, the town also suffered a reverse surge once the hurricane had passed. As Ike moved to the north, the counter-clockwise flow of wind around the storm pushed Galveston Bay’s waters back across the town of Gilchrist from northwest to southeast. This second surge of water likely finished off anything the main storm surge had left.

I hope the government will see fit to buy up the land that was once the town of Gilchrist and make it into a park. Building a town in Gilchrist’s location makes as much sense as building a town on the sides of an active volcano. (Unfortunately, there are plenty of people who have done just that, such as on the slopes of Vesuvius in Italy). If past history is any guide, Gilchrist will be rebuilt, and it will take another mighty hurricane to permanently take down the town. That was the case for the town of Indianola, Texas, which lay in a vulnerable low-lying location on the shores of Matagorda Bay in the mid-1800’s. Indianola was the second largest port in the state of Texas, and home to 5,000 people. In 1875, a powerful Category 3 hurricane piled up a huge storm surge as it came ashore in Indianola. The surge destroyed 3/4 of the town’s 2,000 buildings, and killed 176 people. The city was rebuilt, but in 1886, a devastating Category 4 hurricane swept almost the entire town of Indianola into Matagorda Bay, killing another 250 townspeople. The people of Indianola finally gave up and moved elsewhere, and the ruins of their town now lie under fifteen feet of water in Matagorda Bay.”

Please visit the rest of this web-log at https://cloudman23.wordpress.com/.  If you are interested in weather, there are some tutorials scattered about and more will be added in time.

9 comments so far

  1. sandra watkins on

    i and all of my family have some very special memories of crystal beach and the cut(gilchrist)
    my husband passed a way last year and now this year our favorite fishing hole is gone. but my prayers are with all the special frends we made each year for 17 years we came to the island.i only pray they are all safe.
    sandra

  2. Jon on

    Some obvious possibilities present themselves:
    1. the surviving house is a hoax
    2. the house appears to be on stilts. This is a strong possibility, if the stilts are strong at high enough, it could explain a lot.
    3. Google maps data is hopelessly out of date. I did some testing last year and found that information was typically between one and three years out of date. I’m sure you can check this. That’s a lot of time for a house to go up.
    4. rebuilt post-storm seems very unlikely. It would have to be a supreme rush job, and also, Why even bother?

    I suspect (2) stilts is the answer. A quick google confirms this. Here’s a blog from 2007 depicting a house under construction. Note the other houses pictured, and compare:
    http://inlanddreaming.blogspot.com/2007/04/where-cabeza-de-vaca.html

    The secret here I think is resistance. If you consider florida key houses, this is also common, the first floor is often the second. On Cedar Key FL there’s a house called “cloud nine” which is built with no ground level presence.

    Now consider a tsunami or surge hitting cedar key. You’re typical condo with a high level of construction at ground level is going to be crushed, and fall into the sea. Cloud Nine will just let the water rush right by with probably little effect. I would guess the surviving house is 2007, has no ground level presence, and so posed no resistance to the incoming water.

    I found this house with a simple guess of “Gilchrist tx house on stilts” and it comes up as the first match. I can’t confirm it’s the same house, the columns look different. But the house under construction here has no ground level presence. If the beams are strong enough, this would hold.

    The lone surviving house appears to have very close to no ground level presence.

  3. Jon G on

    I grew up spending my summers two streets to the east of this house, at the family beach house. All the houses in Gilchrist, (and most of the upper Tx. coast) are on “stilts”. My guess about the house in question is that it is concrete tilt-wall, which is becoming a more prevelant construction technique at the coast.

  4. Doris Martino on

    We had a beach house on highway 87 in Gilchrist. It is completely gone. We have been back there numerous times to see if we could find any momentos. We found a clock that had been hanging in our kitchen. It was a battery clock and had stopped at 12:15, I presume it was 12:15 AM. We had windstorm and homeowners insurance but no flood as we had no mortgage. Our premiums were very high in spite of no flood insurance. We have reason to believe that we will not be covered for any damages and if anyone reading this has the same problem, we would like to get together to see what can be done about this.
    My email address is dorismartino@cox.net.
    We can’t let this happen and if we get together we can fight this.

    Doris

  5. Pam Adams on

    This is my home, and yes it’s still standing, it took us many months to get the home to completion due to hiring the wrong contractor and having to wait for loans, etc…but we finally got moved into our home on April 11, 2007…there are damages to the interior and exterior of the home, but the pride I feel in knowing that she (FANTASEA) is still there after what Hurricane Ike did to our tight knit community is bittersweet…Proud that she stood, and heartbroken that everything else did not…but she will be repaired, we did have insurance, and we will once again live back in our piece of Heaven…and no, the house was not built on concrete stilts, they are wood columns, and the home was built to code and on high ground…thanks to the engineers who proved that homes can be built on the coast and can withstand hurricanes…

  6. Marcie Jones on

    March 2009
    My husband and I drove from Austin to finally go see this amasing town and its people and yes the lone house that still stands, all I can say is HATS OFF to these people.
    They have courage and strength thats unbelieveable.
    I born and raised in Dickinson I know all about these hurricans,our home flooded at least 6 times my whole life from hurricans and I’m 48. Our family loved living on the edge, so until you try it don’t knock it.
    My prayers are with all, REBUILD AND ENJOY THE EDGE >>>>>

  7. smiley38 on

    You build a house 1/2 a foot above sea level on a sand bar island facing the gulf. You get what you get for your stupidity.


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