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Some Ike victims may not be allowed to rebuild

People whose beachfront homes were wrecked by Hurricane Ike may be barred from rebuilding under Texas law. If such homeowners lose their beachfront property -- they may get nothing in compensation from the state because of the 1959 Texas Open Beaches Act.

It says the strip of beach between the average high-tide line and the average low-tide line is considered public property. It's illegal to build anything on the site. Texas has invoked the law, over the years, to seize houses after storms eroded a beach so badly that a home was suddenly on public property.

General Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson flew over the Ike-damaged coast and saw hundreds of houses in jeopardy of being declared on the beach unlawfully. Ike's 110 miles per hour winds, storm surge of 12 feet and waves that measured as high as 26 feet obliterated the 4- to 6-foot dunes and redrew the tide lines along a broad stretch of the Texas Gulf Coast.

Patterson says no decision on whether homeowners can continue living at the sites will be made for at least one year -- while authorities watch the ever-shifting boundaries of the beach.

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