The Bolivar Peninsula in Texas was severely impacted by Hurricane Ike with strong winds, large waves, widespread inundation, and severe damage. This paper examines the wave and surge climate on Bolivar during the storm and the consequent survival and destruction of buildings. Emphasis is placed on differences between buildings that survived (with varying degrees of damage) and buildings that were completely destroyed. Building elevations are found to be the primary indicator of survival for areas with large waves. Here, buildings that were sufficiently elevated above waves and surge suffered relatively little structural damage, while houses at lower elevations were impacted by large waves and generally completely destroyed. In many areas, the transition from destruction to survival was over a very small elevation range of around 0.5 m. In areas where waves were smaller, survival was possible at much lower elevations. Higher houses that were not inundated still survived, but well-built houses at lower elevations could also survive as the waves were not large enough to cause structural damage. However, the transition height where waves became damaging could not be determined from this study. ?? 2011 American Society of Civil Engineers.