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Former Galveston “Hurricane Mayor” Lyda Ann Thomas dies at 80

Galveston, Texas, Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas speaks 22 September, 2005, during a press conference on Hurricane Rita at city hall in Galveston. AFP PHOTO/James NIELSEN.

Galveston, Texas, Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas speaks 22 September, 2005, during a press conference on Hurricane Rita at city hall in Galveston. AFP PHOTO/James NIELSEN.

GALVESTON (4/19/2017) — Lyda Ann Thomas, the former Galveston mayor who gained national recognition for her calm strength and demeanor during hurricanes Ike and Rita, has died. She was 80 years old.

Thomas ran for District 4 for the Galveston City Council in 1998. She won both permitted elections after that until term-limited out. In 2004 she ran for, and was elected, Mayor of Galveston, becoming the third mayor of the city. Thomas proceeded to serve three terms as mayor, and stepped down in 2010 after reaching her a city-imposed term-limit.

Thomas was first elected in 2004 to succeed Roger “Bo” Quiroga.

On September 20, 2005 during Hurricane Rita, Thomas declared a state of emergency and ordered an evacuation for the following day. When added to the panicked flight from Houston, the evacuation exacerbated the congestion in the area. Thomas praised for her caution, receiving the 2007 National Blueprint Best Practices Award from the National Council on Readiness & Preparedness.

She also issued appropriate evacuation orders before Hurricane Ike slammed the island. She became known as a pillar of strength in her community, encouraging residents to return home and rebuild.


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