Ike Aftermath: Toxic Chemicals in Galveston

September 16th, 2008

“The sludge left in homes and on roads as floodwaters recede represents a “toxic soup” of mud, human waste, asbestos, lead and gasoline that poses serious health risks and must be removed before people return, they said.”

– Ian Urbina and Thayer Evans, The New York Times

Today, word from the New York Times that Hurricane Ike’s path of destruction left a toxic layer across Galveston Island. And as time goes by, blooms of toxic mold, swarms of insects and other pest are increasing in intensity. The Times quotes Galveston resident John Strange on the bugs:

“They could fly away with your hat,” he said. “The roaches are bigger than I’ve ever seen in New York City. They’d whip a New York roach. The mosquitoes are as big as your thumbnail. You name them, you know, like ‘Hey, George.’ ”

While Ike has not turned out to be “the big one” for the Texas gulf coast, this natural disaster has vast environmental and public health repercussions that are only just beginning to be felt.

Ike recovery, and mitigation of future storms, ought to be a top topic for Texas candidates between now and Election Day. And it ought to be a top priority for the upcoming session of the Texas Legislature which begins in January.