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Blown away: On the Texas Coast, a recovery haunted by the past

Jeremy Schwartz, Austin American-Statesman on

Published in Weather News

James Winkle and his brother-in-law Bill Ingram, sweating through their shirts, were among those who took a break from cleaning up for a brisket lunch. Both men rode out the storm in their Bayside homes and talk about the lasting emotional toll of a hurricane's direct hit.

Ingram said he often thinks of Indianola, a nearby town that was all but wiped off the map by hurricanes a century ago.

"I can believe it after one of these comes through," he said. "But I think people here will rebuild. The town will come back. I don't plan to leave."

The storm was frightening enough, but both men said the days immediately following might have been even more difficult.

"You can't live without electricity -- trust me," Ingram said. "You take all that for granted: cold water, hot food, air conditioning, until it's gone. Golly."

The day after the hurricane, Ingram could not believe how quiet it was.

"There was not one car on the road. The sun goes down. What do you do? You go to bed. What do you eat? A lot of peanut butter sandwiches."

Winkle said that a few days after the storm he was driving his Mini Cooper on a highway outside of town when he saw a power line dangling on the road and jammed on his brakes. Throughout the Coastal Bend after the storm, downed power lines littered roads, making travel difficult. But this time it turned out to be a phantom.

"I hadn't slept much," he said. "I was losing it."

The centerpiece of Bayside is the stately Wood Mansion on the waterfront, a grand Victorian building that has withstood many hurricanes since it was built in 1875.

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