(CNN) — Warren and Pam Adams lost a house to Hurricane Rita in 2005, so it seems they’d be relieved to learn their new home withstood Hurricane Ike. But not when their house is the only one still standing in their section of Gilchrist, Texas.

Ike’s storm surge last week devastated the Bolivar Peninsula town, flattening most of the roughly 200 homes there. The couple’s yellow house at the beach — supported 14 feet off the ground by wooden columns — was the only house on Gilchrist’s Gulf Coast side not to be flattened.

“As we got there, the tears started flowing,” Warren Adams, 63, said Thursday after his first visit to the home since evacuating. “There’s a yellow house sitting there, but that’s all. It was devastating.” Although the house is there, it might not continue to stand. Huge storm surges walloped the interior, making it uninhabitable and destroying many belongings.

Appliances, furniture, and a grandfather clock were some of the many things rendered useless. Warren and Pam, two of the beach town’s several hundred permanent residents before Ike, spent part of Thursday salvaging what they could and lamenting the destruction of their friends’ homes. The survival of the couple’ house, where they started living in April of last year, caused a stir on the Internet. Helicopter pilot Ray Asgar shot some photos of the house from the air and submitted them to CNN’s iReport.com. Some who wrote comments about the photos questioned whether they were authentic.

Yes, this picture does look Photoshopped, but if not, the builder may have to change his phone number.

  1. geofgibson says:

    Sorry for those who lost their homes, but, if you built houses where this photo was taken, you should have your head examined and really high insurance rates. Oh, and no government bail out.

  2. bobbo says:

    “Lone House survives Hurricane Ike in Gilchrist Texas” /// The body of the article says the house interior was destroyed and its uninhabitable and may not remain standing. High water is hard to defend against, unlike fairly easy to fire proof and even high wind proof a house.

    In South America, the beach houses are shells only. They flood and drain almost without damages because the houses are little more than walls and roof. People “in tune” with nature do not build permanent structures on the coast.

    It will be fun to see some of the Hurricanes hit the east coast later on in the decade. And yet, even with a blank slate, odds are 10 to one, most things would be built right on the coast anyway. Silly Hoomans.

  3. Wall Street investor says:

    I need a bail out. I lost one of my seven homes.

    Oh and has anyone seen my yacht?

  4. B. Dog says:

    It’s nice that they were insured. Them big insurance companies should hire the mentally challenged — maybe even give them big bonuses.

    Even if it’s really a total loss, they oughta leave it for the local teens to play in.

  5. deowll says:

    They should have put up a strong frame and used cheap lawn furniture.

    Everything of any size brought to the location should have been expendable.

    The walls should have been made of glass fiber cloth like a it was a tent or something easily replaced.

    Giving these people money to put another building up in this location would be nuts.

    It is my understanding that under state law all the land near the water or at least between high and low tide belongs to to Texas.

  6. @McCullogh: Likely not Photoshopped. You can even see the exact reasons why it is still standing: built on stilts so no low-to-the-ground walls to collect wave power in house-destroying fashion; good new concrete foundation that although partly undermined kept whole.

    @2,5: They should have built Monolithic Dome house. There is one on the beach in Mississippi where the Katrina devastation was at the strongest. Nothing but it have been left standing for miles. Owners returned to a minimal damage and completely livable space. Only minus – Monolithic Dome structures do look like and are constructed quite like your typical bunker…

    @#4: Do not assume insurance in coastal regions is easy. You pay 4-10 times higher (and that if you can find insurance company that will take you) even if you are far away from the actual coast and not reachable even by tsunami… If you are in “region” they simply stick-it to you… (Our example: we are in coastal community but miles from the shore and hundreds of feet above the water. Yet the only insurance that would cover us is LLoyds of London… at some insurance-shark rates)

  7. Ah_Yea says:

    Yea, not photoshopped.
    ” Adams said many of Gilchrist’s homes were built before current building codes, and weren’t elevated or not elevated nearly as high as his.
    The couple owned one of those older houses — on the same lot where their new home now stands. Hurricane Rita destroyed the older one three years ago.”

    There’s something to be said for building to code.

  8. jobs says:

    For Sale home on waterfront with plenty of privacy and a view.

    Sorry bad taste but it had to be done.

  9. Don says:

    14 feet above the water and it was still washed through and made uninhabitable.

    I wish the flood insurance program only allowed 1 payout per property. That would gradually move the morans… er people who build in flood zones to higher ground. Eventually, when they all have their 100 year floods, they will all be gone and there will not be a need for Flood Insurance any more.

    But wait, in Central Indiana, where I hang out in the summer, they have had 2 100 year floods in the last year. Hmmm, go figure.


  10. McCullough says:

    #6. Dusan – you are correct. I have a home in the Caribbean and my insurance is as you said. And even though we are 4oo feet above sea level but maybe 1500 feet from the Caribbean Sea (do the math) I built the home in stone and steel and concrete. The only wood is interior, insurer is Lloyds of London. $450/mth gets me 200K of coverage. The property is worth quite a bit more.

  11. WmDE says:

    Technically a Category 5 hurricane could cause my property to be under water. My house is twenty miles from the Atlantic Ocean and 18 feet above sea level.

    The highest point in Florida is 345ft above sea level and that point is just south of the Alabama state line. If you live in coastal Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia or South “They don’t call it the low country for nuthin'” Carolina you have to consider flood insurance on the beach or twenty miles inland. The beach is nice. The insurance is cheaper twenty miles inland.

  12. If that is not the biggest middle finger to everyone else, I don’t know what it. Still, someone get me the number to the contractor who built that home!

  13. Lou says:

    Why is it people think, it will never happen to me.
    Wake up people.

  14. #13

    …the same logic is behind them thinking, “This time I’ll win the lotto!”

  15. Stars & Bars says:

    What’s the matter…don’t like the Government bailout system? We will all end up paying for this too. Texas and Nevada are the only two states where you can own your land, i.e. Land Patents. If these Texas’ had a land patent no one, not even the state, could take it away.

  16. TexasResident says:

    What is the matter with you people? This was these peoples homes for generation after generation. I was born near here 44 years ago, there have been storms before but not the size of Ike since Carla in 1962/63. How dare you judge these people for wanting to come home and rebuild. So are you saying the entire coast of Florida should be deemed unlivable and no one should build there? What about Mississippi,La? What about California? Gee they have wildfires and Earthquakes no one should be able to build there. What about Colorado? They have avalanches? No one should live there! The majority of people in this area are not Wealthy, the ones who live here year round are hard working people making a life for themselves doing the best they can. Shame on you for passing judgement-I hope you never live through a disaster such as Ike that has reached as far as Far North Houston. Should we close Houston and abandon it too since we were struck hard by Ike as well?? Where does it end? Think before you speak next time!

  17. TexasResident says:

    Theregoesthenighborhood-Karma’s a Bitch, I hope it never bites you or someone you love………

  18. lovedonehadlosshere says:

    I agree. What is wrong with you people? I know this house because my mother had one right down the road. What you aren’t seeing is the hundreds of feet of shoreline that existed between that house and the ocean before the hurricane ate it away. My mother lost her home as well and it sat way back from the water (4th row) and nothing but a slab is left. Most homes in this area have existed for 50 years or more. And when they were built they were far back from the water but years of erosion have pushed shoreline back. WHy don’t you take the energies you are using to condemn these people and use them instead to pray or wish for their recovery as many lost homes, vehicles, furnishings, businesses, livestock, pets and so on. Unbelievable and heartbreaking to hear many of your responses. I wouldn’t wish this type of devastation onto anybody and I hope it never happens to you or your families and if it does I will only pray for you not condemn. When it touches you or someone you love, you might see things differently. Even tornados, fires, and floods can destroy communities…

  19. lovedonehadlosshere says:

    I forgot to mention that my mom lost her primary residence during Hurricane Rita and her beach house in Gilchrist was untouched. Her primary residence was more than 30 miles inland but flooded due to debris clogging up drainage. This time she lost the beach house but primary residence just fine. So there are never any guarantees so you really shouldn’t be so judgemental.

  20. bobbo says:

    You pro beach builders are missing the core opposition. Build where ever you want==just don’t have the government provide tax supported insurance to cover the gap between premium and the real cost of coverage.

    That said, lots of sympathy for those that lost their homes. NO SYMPATHY for any idiot wanting to rebuild in the same place demonstrated as being in the path of destruction. These tidal surge areas are very different than the other risks of loss mentioned.

    All structures should be built to withstand the known risks. When they cannot be, they should be uninsurable. In the case of building on the coast, seems like every house should be a house=boat. Simple solution really.

  21. logic101 says:

    I totally agree with bobbo – build and live in these beautiful but highly vulnerable places but do at it at your own risk – not at the risk of the taxpayers to subsidize your insurance.

    New Orleans is even more ridiculous – a city BELOW sea level that is literally sinking.

  22. iconoclastes says:

    Look, I don’t have an opinion one way or the other, I haven’t given it enough thought. Barrier islands and flood plains were all meant to by dynamic.

    But, to those who feel strongly that my taxes should be bailing out your homes: Remember this conversation next time you complain about the lily-livered liberals, the tax-happy democrats, or go to vote for the “small government” republicans.

    FL, TX, MS, LA, all voted red in 2004. FL, MS, LA are in the top 10 states that got the most federal funding and paid the least. 8 of the top 10 who receive the least and pay the most were blue states in 2004.

    Please, just think about these things when you talk about self-reliance, small government, etc.


  23. Gregg says:

    I grew up 10 miles from the NC coast. I watched as the coastline was bought from the locals and sold to the builders to put condo after condo after condo after beach house after beach house after beach house……..on a barrier island. Now with all the condos, etc, there’s only a few places where a local, someone who DOESN’T own a beachfront home or hotel, can even ACCESS the beach (but that discussion is for another time). As stated before, Barrier islands and flood plains were all meant to by dynamic. To move. To flood.

    She said that the beach was further away “before the hurricane ate it away”. Yeah, that happens…alot…pretty regularly. When the beach gets eaten away, they dredge the channels and put the sand back in place, trying to keep it from moving with jetties. Hell, some hurricanes end up opening up a new inlet to the sound! Right through the island and roadway. What do they do? Fill it in a build on it again. Is this very bright?

    “when they were built they were far back from the water but years of erosion have pushed shoreline back.” My point exactly. Even without hurricanes, shoreline erosion is natural. The sand usually ends up further down the island.

    If you live in tornado alley, don’t be surprised when your trailer gets blown away or expect the gub-ment to cover you. Build underground houses! If you live on the beach, expect to get blown away. If you live near a river, expect to get flooded. If you live in New Orleans….MOVE. Living in a town below sea level, with the only thing holding the sea back is levys….is utter stupidity.

    You want to live in high risk area? Go for it. Just don’t cry to me when the ‘high risk’ part of it catches up to you. If you bungy jump off a bridge, I won’t cry when you snap your neck on the rocks below. You knew the risks.

  24. lovedonehadlosshere says:

    No one is crying to you, only stating the facts. My mother didn’t ask the government to subsidize her insurance with taxes. She would gladly pay her fair share. Do not label me or her. I am not a pro beach builder. And she does not plan to rebuild. She bought this home in her retirement to enjoy an area she has loved and known all her life. She knew when she bought it what the risks were and she accepted them. She gets it and accepts it. End of story. I also get the impression from some of your tones that you think only the wealthy could afford a home near the beach. She bought this home 3 years ago for $60K. It was cozy not fancy. I agree that taxes shouldn’t subsidize the insurance. I live in Texas as well, North Texas, so it affects my rates as well. And I understand the opposition. I just think when tragic events happen it just isn’t necessary to beat down folks when they are already down and make assumptions about them or their views.

  25. bobbo says:

    @25–love etc==”Unbelievable and heartbreaking to hear many of your responses.” /// Stop crying.

  26. lovedonehadlosshere says:

    Bobbo, why is my statement of “Unbelievable and heartbreaking to hear many of your responses.” crying to you? It is just a statement of my opinion just like you’ve stated yours. I could turn the tables and tell you to stop crying too but I won’t.

  27. lovedonehadlosshere says:

    Why is my statement of “Unbelievable and heartbreaking to hear many of your responses.” crying to you? It is just a statement of my opinion just like you’ve stated yours. I could turn the tables and tell you to stop crying too but I won’t.

  28. bobbo says:

    #27–love etc==Words have meaning. When you express you are Heartbroken but want to further claim you are not crying, more explanation is needed.


    I never said that I was heartbroken that people wanted tax dollar to build houses in storm surge areas. If I had, our statements would be equivalent on that measure.

    I think you have every right to be heartbroken and to cry. Why don’t you?

  29. lovedonehadlosshere says:

    I don’t cry because so many others lost much more than a secondary home. And we feel thankful and blessed that we have what we have and that our family members are safe.

  30. bobbo says:

    #29–love etc==hmm. sounds like your emotions relate to an appreciation of your own situation. You don’t cry because you feel relatively lucky compared to other folks.

    Empathy: putting oneself in other peoples situation.

    I think it completely legitimate to feel sorry for, and even cry, for others who have lost everything.

    Blessed? Well, thats a whole other subject and it makes me cry too, so I’ll skip that, other than to recount Starr Jones said much the same thing. She was vacationing in Thailand when that Tsunami hit killing 200,000 people. She also thanked god for saving her fat ass. Thanking god for your own survival of natural disasters is just too special for me. Its that empathy thing again.


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