Today is the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Ike. When it swept through Houston in 2008 -- and was subsequently swept under the rug by national media thanks to a collapsing economy -- it packed much more punch than anyone expected. A massive storm that, at one point, filled almost the entire Gulf of Mexico, Ike was, by traditional measures, weaker than 1993's Hurricane Alicia but no less devastating. It confounded forecasters and helped to redefine the standard Saffir-Simpson scale for ranking hurricanes.
Houston Press photographer Daniel Kramer shot some amazing photos from Houston to Galveston in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike, showcasing the devastation from boats in the middle of the street to dozens of flooded roads and highways; from downtown streets lined with shards of glass from blown out skyscraper windows to mounds of detritus washed ashore during the storm.
"I remember it so well," Kramer said. "It was exhausting but exhilarating week. I hated coming back in."
Despite all the deaths caused by the storm and the massive destruction, Kramer never saw a dead body and only one dead cow because he was not allowed onto Bolivar. He did, however, find that coastal residents had not lost their sense of humor.
"The people on High Island had erected a giant sign that said, 'Shit Happens' and had then set a half a dozen toilets below the sign," he said.
Recently, Kramer went back to the scene of these photographs, shooting the same spots he did in 2008, but this time with startlingly different results. Gone are the floodwaters that swirled around the streets near the Wortham Center that have long since receded and the piles of wood and boats lining Nasa Road One near Kemah have been cleaned up and returned to normal.
"In the 12 photos I shot five years later, only one - the shot of downtown Houston - seemed unchanged," Kramer explained. "In all the others, buildings were gone or substantially remodeled, Kemah rides were gone, everything was different."
The photos serve as a reminder of the life we've chosen, so close to the beauty of the ocean but also within reach of Mother Nature's fury. But, it also illustrates how resilient we can be.
"In New Orleans, you can still see Hurricane Katrina's high water mark," he continued. "With Ike, it's almost like it never happened."
Continue clicking to see Kramer's amazing series of then and now Ike photos.
This amazing shot was taken from the balcony at the University of Houston Downtown. Kramer had gone there to use their power and took this shot of a swirling Buffalo Bayou near the Wortham Center.
The incredible, award-winning then shot captured the leftovers from dozens of shattered windows on the exterior of Chase Tower in downtown Houston.
Historic Brennan's Restaurant in midtown burned down during the storm seriously injuring three people. Today, it's as good as new.
View More: Video of Oak Island After Hurricane Ike
For long-time Houston residents, a not unfamiliar site of I-10 under water. Today, it's traffic as usual.
View More: Video of High Island After Hurricane Ike
Today, Allen Parkway is just a way to get to and from downtown. During Ike, it was a place for crazy rugby players to do backflips into floodwaters.
View More: Hurricane Ike Slams into Houston
On his way to Galveston, Kramer stopped off in Kemah. This was taken along NASA Road One near the marina.
The Kemah Boardwalk would require massive renovations to rides, shops and the boardwalk itself.
View More: Video of Kemah Boardwalk After Hurricane Ike
Landry's in Kemah didn't fare well either, but today it's thriving again.
Rising tides left boats in the middle of Broadway on Galveston Island, blocks from the water.
View More: Hurricane Ike Slams into Galveston
The Pavilion near Stewart Beach was completely underwater and surrounded by debris.
No one was getting onto Stewart Beach during Ike, but today, with the exception of the new sign, it's like it never happened.
View More: Video of San Leon After Hurricane Ike
This now iconic photo of the statue commemorating the great storm of 1900 gives an inkling of Ike's storm surge as the waves shoot well above the 15-foot seawall.
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