Maybe Galveston isn't coming back

GALVESTON — Coming over the causeway onto the island, you can smell the mildew.

Then you see the boats strewn every which way. Apparently, a month ago they simply came in on the 14-foot tide and didn't go out with it. And so they remain, upside down or resting on their keels, in parking lots and on boulevards, in front yards and in esplanades, ruined beyond salvation, waiting for the 110 mph winds that drove them here to drive them back to the sea.

Would that everything would go back out to the sea and wipe the place clean, especially that massive mountain of garbage that grows hourly in the vacant lots where the Cotton Exchange warehouses used to welcome everyone to one of the nation's most important ports.

That was a long time ago, when Galveston had money and swagger.

Which is why it has battled back every time from every storm thrown on its shores in the last century. There was that most famous one in 1900 that killed 6,000 or more. Another in 1915 in which the brand new seawall proved its worth. Then the ferocious Hurricane Carla in 1961 and the equally devastating Alicia in 1983.

I'm not sure it can survive this time. Mostly because, post-Katrina, nobody can be moved to come and look.

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