GALVESTON, TX (KTRE) - Galveston Island is a popular one-tank trip for many East Texans. Nearly six months have passed since Hurricane Ike leveled most of the island. Residents and business owners are working day and night to rebuild the city and significant progress is visible. The city wants people to know Galveston is back and needs your business.
Fierce winds battered businesses and storm surge wiped out much of the island. It also wiped out tourism, what some call the lifeblood of Galveston. "Tourism plays a very important role to the Galveston economy," said Jerri Hamachek of Moody Gardens. She said, "All of the hotels that people come and visit and even the local restaurants and the gift shops-- everything feeds back into the jobs and the overall economy of Galveston."
Rebuilding from what little was left untouched has been a daunting task. Residents and business owners are steadily pushing forward. "We have marketing meetings with our convention and visitors bureau," said Kathy Vandewalli of The Grand 1894 Opera House. "It's all about how to help the whole, as opposed to the individual. It's really been a wake up call. It's been like you've got to take care of each other or it's going to go away."
Galveston going away is a reality that Vandewalli doesn't want to face. She said she hopes tourists will pitch in and help the city come back. "The thing that somebody can do right now that can help Galveston is to come visit us," said Vandewalli. "Add to our economy, because it was hit hard."
The debris is now gone and the city is ready for visitors- lots of them. "It's all been cleared away," said Hamachek. "Most of the tourist attractions and restaurants are open. 95 percent of our hotels are open."