From the sea-swamped neighborhoods of Galveston to the pine-covered hills north of Houston, people across Southeast Texas awoke Saturday to a stunning tableau of devastation caused by the passage of Hurricane Ike, the first hurricane in a quarter-century to score a direct hit on the state's most populous region.
The official insistence that it could have been much worse — Ike's late eastward drift lessened a storm surge that had been predicted as apocalyptic — was little consolation to residents whose homes were wrecked by water, falling trees and winds that gusted in places well in excess of 100 mph. Or even to those facing an indefinite stay in a hot, dark home that emerged unscathed.
The full extent of the property damage as well as the human toll was still coming into focus late Saturday. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff could not yet put a dollar amount on damage, except to say that it would likely rival some of the "legendary" damage figures of storms past.
"By any measure, it was a huge storm," Chertoff said.
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