At Murphree Wildlife Management Area (WMA) near Port Arthur, Texas, the Jefferson County storm levee held back the storm surge created by Hurricane Ike, protecting WMA buildings from flooding. The levee can resist a 14 foot crest and staff reported the area had 11 feet of seawater surge. One Murphree WMA shop building was severely damaged by high winds, but other facilities are reported in relatively good shape.In addition, eerial overflights are taking place today to assess ecological impacts and damage to various Texas Parks and Wildlife Department facilities. But longtime division staff member Jim Sutherlin had this to say from the Murphree WMA in Port Arthur:
“The Murphree area looks like the Gulf of Mexico. Wildlife impacts to every thing that doesn’t fly will be significant like it was back in the early 1960s with Hurricane Carla. I expect a great reduction in reptiles and amphibians, particularly alligators, but also snakes, frogs, all the things that move on the ground in the coastal plains.
We need to assess the full impacts, and that will take some time. It will set plant communities back to very early successional stages, and we’ll see big changes in the landscape when this water comes off, for a couple of decades. That’s something we’ll see as our careers mature, and the young people starting careers in wildlife ecology now will follow it as we followed Carla.”