David J. Phillip / AP

In September of 2008, Hurricane Ike made landfall in Galveston, Texas with a Category 5 equivalent storm surge and winds up to 120 mph at its center.  Originating off the coast of Africa, Ike was responsible for at least 195 deaths:

Of these, 74 were in Haiti, which was already trying to recover from the impact of three storms earlier that year…  In the United States, 112 people were killed, and 23 are still missing. Due to its immense size, Ike caused devastation from the Louisiana coastline all the way to the Kenedy County, Texas region near Corpus Christi, Texas. In addition, Ike caused flooding and significant damage along the Mississippi coastline and the Florida Panhandle. Damages from Ike in U.S. coastal and inland areas are estimated at $29.6 billion (2008 USD), with additional damage of $7.3 billion in Cuba (the costliest storm ever in that country), $200 million in the Bahamas, and $500 million in the Turks and Caicos, amounting to a total of at least $37.6 billion in damage…  The hurricane also resulted in the largest evacuation of Texans in that state’s history. It also became the largest search-and-rescue operation in U.S. history.

Besides the devastation to homes and infrastructure, loss of life, billions of dollars needed for repairs and damage to Galveston’s tourism, it was also an ecological disaster.  As Swamplot noted in November 2008 (bold casing from original article): (more…)

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Yesterday, my hometown of Houston, Texas became the largest US city to elect an openly gay mayor.  Former Houston city councilwoman and city controller, Annise Parker defeated former city attorney, Gene Locke with 53% of the vote.

Parker ran on her ability to lead the city out of the recession, and not on a gay rights platform, something which in a way makes the win alternately significant and meaningless (do we want her to do the job or make a statement?).  But Houston has always had a very vibrant and (in my opinion) a fairly well supported gay community, especially considering the conservativeness of Texas as a whole.  Nevertheless, to win such a high profile position in a city clogged with Big Business (read: Ol Boy Network) is quite a feat.  Congratulations to Mayor Parker and to the voters of Harris County!

(Now we just have to see whether or not former mayor Bill White gets the governors spot.)

via Houston Chronicle