The Scene From Kemah -- At Least They've Found Their Gator

Categories: Hurricane Ike

Photos by Daniel Kramer
Click here for a slideshow from Daniel Kramer...

Biologists at the Kemah Aquarium are breathing easier now that they’ve recovered a small gator named “Sweet Pea” that got loose during Ike.

Not that this little gal could’ve hurt anyone, says biologist David Sanchez, but after saving all the fish at the aquarium, they were worried.

“There were a couple of sightings yesterday and today, but we finally got her,” says Sanchez.

Some of the fish were moved to San Antonio and the aquarium Downtown, but most are safe and sound in their tanks in Kemah.

Overall, the first floor of the aquarium took a pretty good hit from the surge waters, but the upper levels and dining room look perfectly intact – none of the windows broke and all the forks and knives are wrapped up inside cloth napkins as if there was going to be a full dinner service tonight.

Outside, the rest of the Boardwalk was a mix of the pristine and ruins.

The carousel is gone, for instance, and plastic horses are littered throughout about a quarter-mile from where they used to bob up and down. The rollercoaster and most of the big rides help up well, though many of the arcade games are wiped out. Heavy debris, large chunks of wood and metal, cover much of the lot.

Tim Anderson, general manager for the Kemah Boardwalk, is driving around in what looks like a 4-wheel-drive golf cart. He says he’s about a week away from devising a timeline as to when the area may reopen.

Many of the restaurants such as the Salt Grass and Babins, which are right on the water, did not suffer much damage and could reopen right away, if they only had power, says Anderson.

He says that while the area certainly doesn’t look pretty right now, it could’ve been worse.

“I’ve always pictured that if we got hit by a category 5, this place would be flattened,” he says. “So, I feel fortunate.”

-- Chris Vogel

Photos by Daniel Kramer

Click here for a slideshow from Daniel Kramer...

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