View Full Version : Media coverage of Ike restricted - death toll is pink elephant

09-18-2008, 12:12 PM
Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas on Monday ordered all city employees not to talk to news reporters. She did not say when that order would be lifted.

Thomas and City Manager Steve LeBlanc will be the only officials allowed to talk to reporters. City spokeswoman Mary Jo Naschke vehemently denied the city was trying to clamp down on coverage.

She said emergency personnel and city employees were too busy to talk to reporters. Naschke also said the city had been accommodating news reporters by allowing them access to the island when others werenít allowed, giving them escorted rides to damaged areas and allowing them to move about outside during a curfew.

But at a noon press conference Monday, Thomas and LeBlanc talked for less than 30 minutes and refused to answer more than five questions. Thomas said she would try to hold another conference today.

Daily News reporters who tried to speak to city employees were denied and told no one could talk except for the mayor and city manager.

ďItís the worst thing the city could do. Those who will suffer most are evacuees,Ē Publisher Dolph Tillotson said in a statement via text message. ďThe media will have to turn to other sources that might be less reliable. I canít imagine a dumber move under these extreme circumstances.Ē

Before the press conference Monday, LeBlanc asked reporters whether he could go off the record. Some television crews agreed and turned their cameras off. LeBlanc then asked news crews to urge their bosses and managers to show more coverage of the island on television because evacuees didnít care about what was happening in Houston.

Reporters staying at the cityís emergency operations center at the San Luis Hotel were asked to leave Monday. San Luis hotel owner Tilman Fertitta was housing reporters at the nearby Hilton Hotel, which he also owns.

Reporters would be allowed on the island only if they had proper identification, Thomas said. She didnít clarify what that meant.

Reporters were also forbidden from visiting areas on the far West End, Thomas said. She did not explain why.

Galveston officials restrict media access (http://www.khou.com/news/local/stories/khou080916_tnt_galveston_media.7f735fbe.html)

The following is a first-hand account of the destruction of Galveston Island by Hurricane Ike by Mark Collette, former Tyler Paper reporter, who lives there with his wife, Rhiannon Meyers, also a former Tyler Paper reporter and now a reporter for the Galveston County Daily News.
Much if not most of the property on the Bolivar Peninsula is now debris. Homes on the West End of Galveston Island that used to be behind the dunes are now over open water. The Seawall was covered in chunks of concrete that weigh hundreds of pounds.

Authorities are still in search-and-rescue mode. About 24,000 people didnít heed evacuation orders. Rescuers are leaving the dead in houses and moving on to look for the living.

Unlike in New Orleans after Katrina, they are not spray painting a giant "X" on a building when they find bodies. Instead, they are putting discrete stickers on the buildings. On the one hand, government officials seem to be trying to keep the media from portraying the true extent of the disaster, but on the other hand officers are tipping off reporters about deaths and rescues.

Rhiannon said the amount of buildings reduced to rubble suggests that more bodies will be found and the magnitude of the disaster will become clearer in the coming days.

Former Tylerites Braved the Storm in Galveston, Houston (http://www.tylerpaper.com/article/20080915/NEWS01/809150284)

President Bush landed Tuesday on the storm-devastated island to receive a briefing from city, state and federal officials about death and property damage caused by Hurricane Ike.
Bush, who later took an aerial tour of the area, declined to issue a statement to the press or answer any questions while in Galveston.

President takes tour of storm-devastated island (http://galvestondailynews.com/story.lasso?ewcd=605029f95d2d27ca)


video of investigative reporter Wayne Dolcefino confronting Governor Rick Perry about media access to Bolivar Peninsula and Galveston's west end (http://abclocal.go.com/ktrk/video?id=6391294) (would be hilarious if it weren't so sad)


Now for the rumors...

I've got some news on this front. Take it for what it's worth, but the guy I got it from is someone I trust to raise my children...he was in my wedding, and has recently beaten chronic mylogenous leukemia. He's never once lied to me...ever. And we're close.

Right now is the Head of Safety Management at one of the refineries in Port Arthur. His plant has two pipeline terminals right off Galveston island, and before they were to bring them back on line he and his crew had to inspect the place for hazards. So they were given clearance to helicopter in and inspect, which meant coming in over Galveston.

So they arrive on the tarmac at Jefferson Co. airport, and there's 1 Army guy and 1 Coast Guard guy, and a supervisor. The supervisor tells them that each of the Army/CG folks are there perform pat-down searches and have orders confiscate any and all video or camera equipment. My friend protests a bit...he needs the shots for his job....but it becomes clear very quickly that he isn't going unless he turns his shit over. So he hands his shit over and walks to the CG guy to get patted, and mumbles in small talk that he doesn't understand why.

The CG looks around and finally says "You will....just look in the trees."

Dudes, I shit you not, he said they saw AT LEAST 1500 bodies in trees scattered about Galveston. They also saw a lot in various ditches and marshes, espec. on the north side of East Galv. Bay, east side of Trinity Bay, and in the marshes between I-45 and Seabrook/Clear Lake/Deer Park.

He threw up 4 times.

He isn't one to throw up.

It makes sense why they're not letting the media anywhere close to the Island except in very limited sectors under full-time escort. And we're not hearing anything from or about the people who survived and those who stayed behind. It's like 20,000 people never existed....where are
they? Where'd they go? What are their names? Why aren't they listed as missing, survived, etc.

Nothing....we hear nothing.

Take it for what it's worth....I believe him, though his count may be wrong given the shock of the sight. But like I said, I'd trust him to raise my kids.

I'd be more surprised if he were wrong than if he were right.

Thanks, [edit - "3 putt"]. They still haven't located him....I'm hoping to get in there soon and help. I just can't sit around and just surf the web for info....I've gotta get in there.

For better or worse, that's where I'm from....it will always be a part of me and I will always call it "home."

post #6 (http://www.shaggybevo.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=15569&start=1500)

I should have been clearer in my first post....the 1500 cited in "Galveston" was a reference to the entire county, not just the Island, and number included all those they saw on East Bay, east Trinity, the marshes, etc.

All of us who grew up down in Port Arthur would always referred to Bolivar itself as either "Crystal Beach" or "Galveston" b/c that's the county; when we referenced Galveston Island, we would say "the Island." I should have included "county" in my initial post.

My bad. I'll eat it like a man.

But I guarantee you that my bud's not shitting me in the least. I've visited with him 3 times since over our missing friend, and he's absolutely steadfast w/ what he saw.

The fucking LAST place I want to be cited is Daily Kos. Dammit all to hell I hate that place. What a fucking clusterfuck of a blog that place is. Sux along the likes of Little Green Footballs, Democratic Underground, and Free Republic.

Yes, my other friend is still missing, and it isn't looking good. I've...we...have pretty much resigned ourselves to the fact that he's dead. But stranger things have happened

The stories and rumors are coming from multiple sources. From a couple of folks on one of the fishing boards:
A co-worker of my wifes is a HPD officer. Says he has reports that their are many, many corpses in certain parts of the county. Don't know whether to believe it or not. But the officials down there are real suspicious. Specially when brought up at Wednesdays noon conference. I know the mayor has alot to deal with but thats part of the job, she wasn't real friendly to the media Wednesday. There are alot of unanswered questions.

Co worker of mine said the same. A HPD officer flew over the west end and saw bodies floating


(1) It is a very serious situation on the coast right now. Many more issues than the media has even thought of. The government entities who are trying their best to deal with everything would prefer not have to deal with things that they don't have to : such as media hype starting a panic or giving "ideas" to unsavory elements. They want to get a handle on some things before media or mass opinions/actions make matters worse. To me, that's smart.

(2) There are almost certainly much more loss of life than is being reported. I have already heard from some LEO about bodies recovered - the count is more than what the news is reporting. In addition, there are many, many people unaccounted for - don't know what happened or where they are. They are simply "unaccounted". These numbers run over a 1000 (some say higher) for Bolivar and between 3000-5000 (again, some say higher) on Galveston. People being what they are, some will want to speculate that these may be DOA - but NO ONE knows, they may have left out of state, etc. If there IS loss of life, it may be that the bodies have not be found in the door-to-door search, or they may not be "floating", or they may have washed out to sea as the water receded. It is sad to think that many perished, but my personal OPINION is there is more than the 5 or 6 deaths "officially" reported - almost certainly since one source told me they have recovered more than that from the Texas City beaches just the other day.

(3) One military person I spoke with said there is an issue of National security that is hush-hush right now. The issue is that there is a LARGE geographical area that is not under any infrastructure police protection or patrol. A significant hole on the coast that "unsavory" elements could sneak just about anything into the US undetected - drugs, weapons, you name it. The CG and LEO have their hands full with cleanup, and keeping worried folks from poking around - not to mention looters - and really can't watch the coast for someone running drugs or something more serious. Especially at night The military is being called in and the "talk" is that Galvestion will most likely be under martial law soon. My military source told me - and take this for what it's worth - that the commander in the area is calling for around 15,000 troops and they "just ain't available" - we have too many deployed elsewhere. The fear is that this would send a signal to our enemies in the world that we are weak and vunerable right now on the Texas coast.

(4) It is AMAZING the lack of news coverage outside Texas. My company based in California knows virtually NOTHING about what is going on. They tell me there was a 3 minute spot on the news last Saturday, very few if any pictures with the various news stories. And the only thing that this is being reported now is stuff like "cleanup effort continues", and "tiger loose", and "man in bear suit on beach" - fluff pieces. I sent them some pictures and they flat don't believe it - think I am making it up and sending pictures from Indonesia or some such place. Which explains why they got so angry when I told them I was taking a day off to board up my house. (Their suggestion was I could leave last Friday after work if I really, really needed to). They are also upset that their office in Houston isn't open: Quote "I mean, the storm was last Saturday for gosh sake, we're going to have to take some diciplinary action if people don't start showing up"....

posts #20 & 48 (if I counted correctly) (http://www.shaggybevo.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=15569&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=1650)

09-18-2008, 12:17 PM
corpses in the trees? ugh.

09-18-2008, 12:18 PM
Wow, I may be able to help verify some of this. I know someone on another BB who may very well have been on that oil rig, or another one if not that same one.

That is just nuts.

09-18-2008, 12:20 PM
Thanks for the update, Bern. Hope you're holding up.

09-18-2008, 12:25 PM
I'm fine, thanks. Friendswood was on the west side of the eye and sustained some (mostly minor) wind damage, but nothing like what the folks on the coast got (with the storm surge).

09-18-2008, 12:45 PM
ron did look very uncomfortable in that interview he did.

09-18-2008, 01:00 PM
Governement controlled media?

09-18-2008, 01:00 PM

this poster was correct...it is now mainstream.

09-18-2008, 01:04 PM
Well, we need ask not what Rep. Paul is busy with today. Indeed, I think we can count on him to be busy with his district for some time...

Sad, sad news.

09-18-2008, 01:07 PM
Well, we need ask not what Rep. Paul is busy with today. Indeed, I think we can count on him to be busy with his district for some time...

Sad, sad news.

Lake Jackson isn't too far away...anyone know what the damage was like there?

09-18-2008, 01:15 PM
i've talked w/ friends and acquaintances up and down the coast and have heard nothing about bodies washing up on beaches, nor floating in bays.

the gov might be able to halt the presses, but there is no way to silence flapping jaws.

are there some dead unaccounted for? yes.

some floaters? probably a few.

but i'm calling bullshit on this one.

09-18-2008, 01:16 PM
i've talked w/ friends and acquaintances up and down the coast and have heard nothing about bodies washing up on beaches, nor floating in bays.

the gov might be able to halt the presses, but there is no way to silence flapping jaws.

are there some dead unaccounted for? yes.

some floaters? probably a few.

but i'm calling bullshit on this one.

I would be so happy if you are right...great optimism

09-18-2008, 01:18 PM
Officials hiding 1500 deaths in Galveston area, bodies hanging in trees and lying in ditches. No disrespect to your friend's eyewitness report but it sounds like Hurricane Ike was an inside job.

09-18-2008, 01:38 PM
I think with the government trying to evacuate the Texas peninsula, they may have wanted to make the death toll seem way high than it was and present health issues such as corpses lying around.. Some articles from some media look like planted stories to start rumours of complete devastation to keep people out. Guys, the gulf states, especially Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas are the staging areas for war with Iran. An evacuated area would be a perfect workspace for that purpose. I would suspect anything right now.

09-18-2008, 02:54 PM
Looked at Galveston via Google Earth, shows many homes all along the coast (follow the highway). Here is another cool tool: http://www.flashearth.com/

09-18-2008, 08:43 PM
Most of the bodies reported in the initial rumor are not visible from the ground, nor are most in the trees. There are many areas along the bay coastline that you can only see from boat or plane.

09-18-2008, 09:09 PM
If people are stupid enough to ignore evacuation warnings then maybe they wanted to bite the dust. Sorry, but it is hard to feel bad for people who don't give a crap about living. That's one of the reasons I can't stand smokers.

09-18-2008, 09:14 PM
i've talked w/ friends and acquaintances up and down the coast and have heard nothing about bodies washing up on beaches, nor floating in bays.

the gov might be able to halt the presses, but there is no way to silence flapping jaws.

are there some dead unaccounted for? yes.

some floaters? probably a few.

but i'm calling bullshit on this one.

Yeah, it is supreme BS. The guy was shitting us after all. :D

09-19-2008, 03:18 AM

09-19-2008, 12:36 PM
If people are stupid enough to ignore evacuation warnings then maybe they wanted to bite the dust. Sorry, but it is hard to feel bad for people who don't give a crap about living. That's one of the reasons I can't stand smokers.

OR, perhaps they didn't like jack-booted thugs in police uniforms pushing them around. Maybe, just maybe, some people are better at dealing with their problems than the state is.

09-20-2008, 10:17 AM
More gossip/rumors:
My dad is in Galveston trying to get gas up and going again and he has told me some nightmarish things. Charred bodies that burned in their homes, drowned animals such as a horse they are waiting for to pop because its bloated, a boy washed up with his SSN and name written on his arm. They're making it manditory that you wear masks for hazmat purposes. He says it is just wretched. It's kind of funny because I have my dad who has seen this first hand and explained it very well to me...and I hear people at work bitching about not having internet at their house. I don't have power at mine...but you know what? I still have a home and my family. Life is pretty good.

word is, ike/gustav will have caused more damage to offshore oil & gas platforms than katrin/rita. helicopters have only been able to survey nearshore areas due to fear of not being able to find platforms to land and re-fuel on. supposedly 60ish platforms confirmed down as of right now.

The following is from a journalist who writes for the Houston Press (see his latest story here: Sunny San Leon Picks Up the Pieces After Hurricane Ike (http://blogs.houstonpress.com/hairballs/2008/09/san_leon_after_hurricane_ike.php)):

Man, I was just in a little town on the side of Trinity Bay called Oak Island. The devastation there is all but utterly complete. I think only Gilchrist and CB have it worse. There is another town on Trinity Bay called Smith Point and the cops aren't even letting journalists in there, but I don't see why not. It can't be worse than Oak Island.

Note that the east side of Trinity Bay was mentioned as one of the areas where a portion of the original "~1,500 bodies" were spotted.

All these quotes come from the same shaggybevo.com thread I referenced earlier. I don't feel like re-linking every page the quotes were taken from.


Media reports:

GALVESTON, Texas -- Search teams finished a second sweep of Bolivar Peninsula on Thursday and did not find any bodies, the Galveston County judge said. However, as the search of the devastated peninsula transitions from rescue to recovery, Judge Jim Yarbrough cautioned that those missing from Bolivar might never be seen again.

“There's no question we are going to have some missing people (that) we are never going to find,” Yarbrough said Thursday night.

The judge said search teams have scoured about 75 percent of the peninsula, searching through debris for residents who may have never made it off Bolivar before Hurricane Ike laid waste to the area. He estimated too, that about 30 to 40 residents remain on Bolivar despite an order to vacate.

Thus far, no bodies have been found, but the county judge knows that is not likely going to be the case as the search expands.

“We are going to find bodies over there. No doubt,” Yarbrough said in a muted tone.

The judge also put to rest rumors that the county had shut off the peninsula to open a temporary morgue and cover up mass finds of bodies. He said that in five days of searching no bodies had been found and that no morgue operation was present on the peninsula or at Galveston's UTMB, as had been rumored.

Officially, seven people in the county died as a result of Hurricane Ike. None of the dead is from the peninsula.

Yarbrough said a hotline set up by the county to track missing residents has created a list of 50 people considered missing. But he cautioned that some of those on the list have been found safe at shelters in other parts of the state.

Missing persons hotline
Call (866) 898-5723 to report a missing person

Create a flyer and post online (http://www.lrcf.net/create-flyer/index.html)

He did not know how many people reported missing had actually been found. The county has teamed with the Laura Recovery Center to create flyers of the missing as well.

The searches on Bolivar have been conducted by members of Texas Task Force 1, specialized cadaver dog search teams as well as members of the local volunteer fire departments on the Peninsula that know the lay of the land better than anyone.

In the coming days, the search will expand to include the area known as Goat Island. The island is a small strip of land across the Intracoastal Waterway from the peninsula.

Yarbrough said there is a large debris field on that island and is the next logical place to search, but only after a game plan to do so safely can be worked out.

“That is a very dangerous place with all that debris, plus you have lots of snakes and other obstacles,” the judge said.

http://www.khou.com/topstories/stories/khou080918_tj_search_bodies_bolivar_ike.8e35ae67.h tml