Hurricane Ike has been downgraded to a depression, and that is exactly the atmosphere among the people of the Gulf Coast in the wake of the storm’s passage. Texas has launched its biggest-ever rescue operation, after Ike’s devastating journey across the state.
As the clean-up got underway, there are signs of a rift between local officials and federal authorities over delays in aid. The Bush administration came under fire for its slow response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and although it moved faster this time, thousands of people in the target area are facing days if not weeks without clean water and power.
Some two million people fled as Ike approached; the lack of basic services means they cannot consider coming home for the foreseeable future, if they even have homes to return to. The word war-zone is often over-used, but much of south-east Texas is littered with the debris of Ike’s attack.
Damage assessment has barely begun, but early estimates suggest the bill could top 15 billion euros.