Owners of 'last house standing' part of peninsula's comeback
A 2008 photo shows the devastation that Hurricane Ike's sea surge left in Gilchrist. This elevated house survived.
July 26th, 2011
06:20 PM ET

Owners of 'last house standing' part of peninsula's comeback

Pam and Warren Adams aren't so lonely in Gilchrist, Texas, anymore.

In September 2008 they became known as the owners of the "last house standing," the only structure on Gilchrist's Gulf Coast side to have survived Hurricane Ike's massive sea surge, thanks to the stilt-like columns that lift the home 22 feet above normal sea level. (See the original iReport.) Now, the house still is the sole Gulf-side structure for several blocks, but there's been plenty of activity within shouting distance, on the narrow peninsula's other side.

New houses have been built in Gilchrist, and elsewhere on the Bolivar Peninsula, since the hurricane.

Perhaps three-dozen structures have been built or repaired on Gilchrist's East Bay side, across State Highway 87 from the couple's home, Pam Adams says. On the whole Bolivar Peninsula - a thin strip of land between mainland Texas and the Gulf where Ike reduced 5,500 homes and businesses to about 1,500 - about 3,000 homes and businesses stood with water service as of last month.

The Adamses not only stayed on the peninsula (it took them a year to repair damage to the home and make it habitable again), they doubled down. One of the new structures across the highway is their new restaurant, FantaSea BBQ & Grill, which they opened last year. Pam says it's one of about three businesses currently open in Gilchrist.

The couple returned to the home after a year of post-hurricane renovations.

"It's always been my fantasy to live on the beach, and it's been Warren's fantasy to run a barbecue restaurant, and all in all, we're both living out our fantasies out here," said Pam, 56, who helps run the restaurant on weekends when she's not working as a cost analyst in Houston.

Although the population is down, the peninsula still attracts beachgoers and fishermen, not to mention people using Highway 87 to get between Galveston and Louisiana. The restaurant, also run by 66-year-old Warren, a retired electrical designer, manages to attract plenty of people looking for barbecue, hamburgers, hot dogs and onion rings; it had 300 customers on July 23 alone, Pam said.

The couple's new restaurant sits across the street from their house.

The house may never have any immediate neighbors. Adjacent properties and more than 600 others on the peninsula were sold to the county under a buyout plan funded by FEMA, with the stipulation that no structure be built on those properties again. The arrangement frees people who didn't want to or couldn't rebuild, and reduces the number of future potential insurance claims in the flood-prone area.

But the peninsula still is seeing an average of 30 new building permits a month for new structures, and the county is investing in the area, with plans to rebuild three fire stations, elevate the highway and introduce sanitary sewer service to an area that had relied on septic tanks only, said John Simsen, Galveston County's emergency management coordinator.

Pam Adams enjoys being back at her beachside house. "Everything seems to be coming back," she said. "I'm really proud of all the strong, determined people down here."

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Filed under: Hurricanes • Texas • Weather
soundoff (198 Responses)
  1. Brian

    I read a ton of stories on here everyday and 99% do not have applicable photos when they need to and this one is no exception. It is about how the area has changed – how about an updated photo???

    July 26, 2011 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • iamthefredman

      This photo is so sad. Can you say "photoshopped"? I knew that you could !

      July 26, 2011 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Where's the pics?

      Leave it to the CNN to throw up a really interesting story and then not have any meaningful photos. Lame...

      July 26, 2011 at 8:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • jloopy

      The picture of the lone house was not photoshopped. I live in Houston, saw the live helicopter video of this. There are some building remnants off to the left of the picture, but it was the only full structure standing in that area.

      July 26, 2011 at 8:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • james

      why do you need a photo.. how about you read the story instead

      July 26, 2011 at 8:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pam Adams

      Photo Shopped??? I'm sitting in a Photoshopped house here on the beach?? hope I don't fall on the ground below...LOL

      July 26, 2011 at 10:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ginger Snap

      Haters gonna hate, Pam! LOL

      July 26, 2011 at 11:02 pm | Report abuse |
  2. ajd041

    Dang it I'm second and this is news all I got from it is that a couple that survived a hurricane is helping to revitalize the area arounbd texas and instead they decide to embellish it

    July 26, 2011 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jazzzzzzzz

    @ Brian... Well at least we got the teeny weeny one...what do you expect from Cnn. But the main photo is EYE catching. If I were the owners of that house I would be walking out the front door (glance around) and say "ok God, you have my attention"

    July 26, 2011 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Clint

      Fortunately, the owners were smarter than you.

      July 26, 2011 at 8:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pam Adams

      Done and said many times Jazzzzz....Amen!!!

      July 26, 2011 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse |
  4. justathought

    Is this a news story or commercial?

    July 26, 2011 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Romany

    Commercial of course.

    At least people won't be building there again...

    July 26, 2011 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Thomas Covenant

    Who built the house?

    July 26, 2011 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pam Adams

      We had 2 builders...first one got fired, hired the second one to finish the house....this home means so much to us...sometimes I hate to do interviews because some of the comments are so hurtful...you'd think nobody has ever had a dream, I love this place, and as long as there is land under this home my feet plan to be planted on it....

      July 26, 2011 at 10:47 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Schwanzstucker

    Pics or GTFO

    July 26, 2011 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse |
  8. bill

    @Brian, so right? What the hell, people? You're not going to show us the changes?

    July 26, 2011 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Rebecca

    A picture is worth a thousand words...so sick of story after story with no pictures or no relevant pictures!

    July 26, 2011 at 7:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pam Adams

      Drive on down here and see the peninsula, we are here-Bolivar is here, and it's a awesome place to vacation at....everyone is welcome to bring their camera's to take pics of so many memories that will be made....

      July 26, 2011 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ginger Snap

      Matter of fact, drive on down and get try the best BBQ & juiciest burgers on the Bolivar Peninsula. 🙂

      July 26, 2011 at 11:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ginger Snap

      Oops, got excited ... "drive on down and get try the best BBQ" 😀

      July 26, 2011 at 11:13 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Rethink

    This is the best story I've read on CNN for quite some time, because the author clearly understands the plural and/or possessive forms of surnames. "Adamses' " was a gem.

    July 26, 2011 at 7:50 pm | Report abuse |
  11. 867192

    I love the house!, would love to see the pics of the restaurant..

    July 26, 2011 at 8:02 pm | Report abuse |
  12. neat

    nice looking house

    July 26, 2011 at 8:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pam Adams

      Thank you!!! Been a long, hard road....but we love it here...

      July 26, 2011 at 10:50 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Harmon

    This "news" is completely worthless without good photos, CNN you should be ashamed to post this crap.

    July 26, 2011 at 8:31 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Sarah Palins House

    ITS A MIRACLE !!!! who cannot see that? GO SARAH ... did the guns survive? Well, there you have it.

    Sarah in 2012 I gave one dollar just to see the miracles unfolding.

    July 26, 2011 at 8:54 pm | Report abuse |
  15. detsea

    people should take a hint that this is not an ideal place to build a house.

    July 26, 2011 at 8:54 pm | Report abuse |
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