Kevin Boulware marked the start of this year's hurricane season by packing a bag so he'd be ready to leave quickly if his Galveston, Texas, home was ever threatened.
"I wasn't going to be stupid," the 21-year-old former Shawnee resident and former Kansas University student said.
That was on June 1. In early September as Hurricane Ike approached Galveston, Boulware and his roommate and longtime friend, Stephanie Ryan, also formerly of Shawnee, were headed out of town for Dallas.
The hurricane struck Texas on Sept. 13. In addition to millions of dollars in damage, the death count earlier this week in Texas from Ike stood at 32.
Boulware is now staying in a hotel in Arlington, a Dallas suburb. Ryan traveled on to Tulsa, Okla., to stay with friends. Boulware has talked with his Galveston landlord and with friends who have seen his house. It was damaged by wind and from water surging out of the Gulf of Mexico. The house was only half a block from the beach, Boulware said.
"They say it is too bad, that I can't live in it," he said.
Before Galveston issued a mandatory evacuation order, Boulware considered staying home, he said. Some longtime Galveston residents told him that if Ike was a Category II or III hurricane they would ride it out.
"After Hurricane Rita I heard all the horror stories about it taking 48 hours to get through Houston and people running out of gas," Boulware said. "That scared me even more than the hurricane."
But a family who had become friends with Boulware wouldn't let him stay. They insisted that he and Ryan evacuate Galveston with them, he said. Boulware ended up driving one of their vehicles to Arlington.
Before leaving, Boulware and Ryan moved belongings they wouldn't be taking with them to the second floor of the house. They wrote a message on a wall to let future searchers know they had evacuated to Dallas.
"The morning before we left, I just sat down and it really sunk in as to what was going to happen," Boulware said. "I felt like I was outside my body looking at my house."
Boulware, a 2005 graduate of Shawnee Mission Northwest High School, attended two semesters at Kansas University. He moved to Galveston a year ago and is studying to be a nurse at Galveston College. He sold his car last spring because he found he could walk or bike anywhere he needed to go. He and three other people operated a family restaurant in the historic Strand area. The restaurant also was heavily damaged, mainly by the water surge, he said.
Boulware contacted the Federal Emergency Management Agency before the storm hit and inspectors have already checked his house. He is receiving FEMA assistance for his hotel bill. He doesn't have renters' insurance on his house.
Boulware hopes to return to Galveston to see the house by the end of the week.
"I really don't think it is going to be that bad," he said. "I've told my landlord I want to keep the house. I really enjoyed being a tenant there. I think he's going to reconstruct. I think he's going to help me out."