GALVESTON, Texas (AP) -

Like many communities along the Southeast Texas Gulf Coast devastated by Hurricane Ike five years ago, Galveston has bounced back as homes, businesses and beaches that were washed away by a destructive storm surge have been rebuilt.

Galveston leaders and residents said Thursday they believe their city is better than ever, with tourism to the island and economic development at levels higher than before 2008, when the storm hit.

Residents and officials in other Southeast Texas cities severely damaged by Ike echoed those sentiments, saying that while the rebuilding continues, their communities are healthy.

Friday will mark the five-year anniversary of when Ike made landfall in the U.S. The storm caused more than $29 billion in damage, becoming the state's costliest natural disaster.