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Like some wild, stomach-churning amusement park ride, Nick and Karen Voris are strapped in and ready.

Hurricane Harvey, bring it on.

The catastrophic, Category 4 with a 30-inch rainfall expected in some coastal areas of Texas and winds reaching 130 miles an hour, couldn't chase Nick and Karen from their home on Galveston Island.

"We're going to stay and wait it out," Karen said late Thursday. "The mainland will be too flooded to go anywhere. We're better off here.

"It's going to be a terrible storm but we're not in the direct path like we were with Ike, which devastated the island."

Hurricane Ike in September of 2008 was a Category 4 responsible for 195 deaths and $37.5 billion in damages. The Weather Channel has predicted a loss of life with Harvey.

"We're OK. The only thing we're worried about is the tide and the surge," Nick Voris said.

Remember Voris? He coached football at Clark, Calumet — where he won the first playoff game in school history — and Gavit. The Hammond High grad was a 2006 inductee in the Indiana Football Hall of Fame.

Voris also coached at various Texas high schools and small colleges after arriving in 1989. He and Karen, a Houston native, have lived in Galveston since 1992.

Galveston Island is 27 miles long and no wider than 3 miles at its widest point. Nick and Karen live two blocks from the Gulf of Mexico, where the water temperature was nearly 90 degrees this weekend and that only fuels the storm more.

Karen said she's been through "seven or eight" hurricanes in her lifetime, though the couple was chased inland by Rita, Katrina, Gustav and Ike.

The Voris home, like many on the island, is a fortress, built on 16-foot stilts to help keep it dry. There are storm shutters that automatically open and close, a generator, cases of bottled water and a supply of k-rations with no expiration date.

Such is life on Galveston Island.

Nick and Karen would have it no other way.

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"Both of us are really outdoor people. I'm going to be 81 in October and a lot of it has to do with being down here," Nick said.

They also own kayaks and often paddle through the wetlands for a close-up look at nature's beauty.

Nick says he fishes twice a week but throws everything back. He and Karen go for morning walks on the beach and along the dunes, conversing with tourists and having lunch or dinner on the boardwalk.

Sounds like the Hallmark Channel.

"The weather is the main reason I came here," Nick said, loving the fact there are no traffic jams, no city noise or crowds. Tropical storms are a trade-off and a constant concern for residents.

There are 30 oil refineries between Corpus Christi and Lake Charles responsible for a third of this country' s fuel production. If the rigs sustain heavy storm damage, higher gas prices will certainly follow.

Hurricane Harvey is expected to hover over the Texas coastline until early next week.

I checked back with Nick and Karen late Friday to see if conditions had worsened.

"Right now, we got off-and-on rain that's coming down hard and wind gusts of 50 miles per hour," Nick said. "We got some water under the house so we moved the cars to the fire station where there's higher ground.

"We got a gigantic palm tree that's bigger than our house and dead branches are flyin' all over the place. We've had 4-5 tornados that are like little water spouts and haven't come on land yet."

Sounds so routine, so matter of fact, doesn't it?

"When I first got here, I was so nervous," Nick said, calmly. "But I've been through so many now, I know what to look for, what to expect."

Suddenly, a tornado siren sounded and it was back to the Weather Channel for updates.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at al.hamnik@nwi.com.

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