HOUSTON-The 1.3-million-sf JPMorgan Chase Tower in the CBD was one of many buildings shattered by Hurrican Ike as it roared ashore on the Texas coast and made its way inland. Texas’ tallest building–75 stories–had its windows blown out, scattering shards of glass onto Travis Street along with office furniture and materials that were sucked out through the openings.

Houston officials have restricted Downtown traffic until a damage assessment can be performed and debris cleaned up. Hines Interests manages the class A building at 600 Travis St., which is owned by Prime Asset Management of Houston.

Ike came ashore at Galveston as a high Category Two hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale. After taking out parts of Galveston, Brazoria and Harris counties with flood waters due to the storm surge, the storm held together long enough to lash both sides of the Texas-Louisiana border with flooding rains, tropical storm-force winds and tornadoes, resulting in damaged real estate and loss of power. According to news accounts, more than 2.1 million customers were without power and preliminary damage estimates were being pegged at more than $7 billion in southeast Texas.

Although Louisiana was spared a direct hit from the storm, its coastal areas experienced a storm surge, flooding homes and roads for up to 30 miles inland. Local news accounts report the surge soaked areas still recovering from Hurricane Gustav.

Along with cleanup and damage assessment, concerns remain about the status of oil refineries in the region. The US Department of Energy says 14 refineries along the coast were shut down in anticipation of the storm, including Shell’s refinery in Deer Park and ExxonMobil’s Baytown, TX refinery. Early reports indicate that the refineries and plants sustained minor damage, but there is no timeline as to when they will be back on line.

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