Residents Return to Galveston Despite Warnings

GALVESTON, Texas (AP) - Thousands of Galveston residents chose home today over stern warnings from local leaders.

Those leaders warned that Galveston is "broken" and teeming with dangerous germs, rats and snakes. But the thousands of resident evacuees were undeterred as they streamed back into their island city early today.

The island was shut down after Hurricane Ike slammed ashore September 13th, but reopened this morning. Huge lines of traffic backed up on the one interstate leading into Galveston. But things appeared to go smoothly once the city of about 57,000 started letting people in around daybreak.

Ruben Rosas had evacuated to San Antonio and joined the predawn line on Interstate 45. Once he reched his first-floor apartment on a bayou, the 74-year-old Galvestonian found the walls and nearly all his possessions no longer there. He did find a large cross that had been on his father's coffin and a small "King of Dads" statue his kids gave him when they were young.

City officials had prepared residents for such scenes, painting a dreary picture about living conditions on the island since Ike's devastation. Residents were warned not to return without tetanus shots and rat bait and to be ready for swarms of mosquitoes and lurking snakes.

Residents were told to bring their own water and not to even consider turning on the gas or flipping an electrical switch until one of the island's three remaining electrical inspectors can inspect the property.