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A Town's Life Among the Ruins

A community rebuilds, and re-rebuilds, after hurricanes. `Everybody is fully aware that another one will hit.'

July 10, 2006|Miguel Bustillo | Times Staff Writer

"I suppose it is a psychological necessity for people to think it cannot happen to them."

Up the road from Indianola in Port Lavaca, an exhibit at the Calhoun County Museum brings old Indianola back to life and explains its death. A painstakingly produced model reconstructs the town's long wooden piers, which carried trains directly to the ships to load them with silver from Mexico and beef from the Texas hinterlands. It also shows many of Indianola's former buildings, including its large courthouse. Their foundations now lie 30 feet in water.

There are heirlooms that survived the big storms too, including a grand piano with elegant cabriole legs that Indianola resident Samuel Kinlay had purchased from Boston in 1872 for his daughter Frieda, a piano teacher. The family carefully wrapped the piano in quilts and mattresses before fleeing. When they returned home, the only things left were the living room floor and the piano.

George Anne Cormier, the museum's director, knows the sad stories as well as anyone. Still, she chooses to live down by the ruins in Indianola.

"It's beautiful. I can look out my window and see the bay, the birds, the dolphins," Cormier said, smiling.

"In life, you have to put up with some things to get what you want."

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