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BOLIVAR PENNINSULA, TX-Although much of Houston is recovering from Hurricane Ike, region’s seaside communities are struggling to recover. Due to the storm surge and high winds, structures along Bolivar Peninsula were totally wiped out, with other towns from Galveston through Kemah, Seaside and Clear Lake Village sustaining large amounts of damage.

The City of Galveston has closed the island to all but emergency personnel for the foreseeable future due to the absence of power, sanitation and water services. Yesterday, officials tried a “look and leave” for evacuees to check on their homes, but suspended it after one day due to the disruption. Susan Moore, director of the Galveston County Small Business Development Center in Texas City, says now even those who rode out the storm in Galveston are being asked to leave.

Tilman Fertitta, president and CEO of Landry’s Restaurants Inc., assessed the Houston-based company’s property damage at approximately $50 million, according to the Houston Chronicle. Its holdings are Landry’s and the Flying Dutchman, both in Kemah, and Fisherman’s Wharf in Galveston as well as a hotel and other restaurants in storm-ravaged South Texas. Damage on the properties ranged from minimal to severe.

As the water-bound communities struggle, cities farther inland are faring somewhat better. “Parts of League City have power and parts have water,” Moore says. “The historic Downtown area sustained a lot of wind damage, but it was, for the most part, superficial.”

Even better news for the energy industry is that refineries in Port Arthur, Texas City and Baytown are either back on line or anticipated to be so in the next week. Damages at refineries were reported to be minimal.

Moore tells GlobeSt.com that the US Small Business Administration and the Federal Emergency Management Agency already have disaster loans and grant money available for renters and businesses. “In the case of businesses, there is a disaster loan for physical damage and one for economic loss,” she says. “People are being advised they should register at FEMA within 60 days of the disaster, if possible, to quality for that money.”

So far, however, Moore hasn’t heard from businesses or other commercial interests on the island or in any of the communities directly hit by the storm. “I don’t think people believe our center is open,” she says. “No one’s called yet. Asking is about recovery. I don’t think they’re at that stage yet.”

Jay Hawes, project partner with Provident Realty Advisors Inc. in Dallas, says he also hasn’t heard from anyone in the area. “Everyone we’ve tried in the 409 area code hasn’t had working phones,” he says.

About one year ago, Provident and Dallas-based PNL Cos. began the entitlement process to develop 600 acres on Bolivar Peninsula. Hawes says the partnership had gotten about halfway through the entitlement process when the storm hit. If there was any good news, it was that there were no structures on the property. Other than a lot of debris on the land, there was no damage.

“Highway 87, which runs through the property, seems to be in good shape,” Hawes says. Damage to structures on the west side of the island, however, was different. “Most of the damage was from storm surge,” he explains. “This storm was several hundred miles wide and it pushed a lot of water into the bay. Bolivar and Galveston flooded from the back and the front.”

Hawes says that, while Provident bought the land as an investment, he acknowledges the storm could impact demand for home, lots and other developments in the area for awhile. “It’ll make insurance more expensive,” he predicts. “It could take years for that kind of effect to wear off.”

Texans have dug deep into their pockets and time to aid the hurricane-ravaged cities. Yesterday, officials at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport held a blood drive and collected financial donations. The campaign was held in conjunction with a celebration marking the reopening of the Founders Plaza observation area.

In Fort Worth, city officials sent a team to help out as did scores of organizations statewide. In addition to the muscle power, 1,500 extra truckloads carrying 9.4 million gallons of bottled water have been sent south since Ike’s approach and landing, Jaylon Hutton, vice president of sales for Ontario, CA-based Niagara Bottling LLC’s 441,000-sf plant at 4851 Mountain Creek Pkwy. in Mountain Creek Business Park in southern Dallas County.

Because it’s a private company, Hutton won’t disclose the usual volume of bottled water that rolls from Dallas to South Texas, but he did say “this was a dramatic increase in demand.” He says the extra shipments began in the days leading up to Ike’s arrival and have been ongoing ever since.

To meet demand on the local plant, which runs 24/7 every day of the year, Hutton says Niagara’s disaster relief teams from several cities were brought to Dallas to help with logistics. Each truck carries 1,500 cases, which Niagara has discounted as part of its contribution to suppliers and aid teams.

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