Hurricane Ike Spurs 2,000 Rescues; Thousands More Await

Galveston, Texas
Asociated Press
September 14, 2008

When Hurricane Ike blasted the U.S. Gulf Coast on Saturday, an estimated 140,000 Texas residents refused to evacuate when ordered to do so.

Now 1,984 of these people have been rescued so far in Texas, including 394 by air, authorities said at a news conference Sunday afternoon. A door-to-door search continues in Galveston, where Ike came ashore early Saturday.

(See Hurricane Ike photos.)

Officials are urging all residents of Galveston to stay away from the barrier island, telling them there is no way to live there right now. It could take up to a month to restore power, and roads are still flooded. (VIDEO: Hurricane Ike Devastation.)

Crews navigated debris-strewn streets to reach people still stuck in some of the thousands of homes flooded by the hurricane. Authorities imposed a curfew in Houston and warned it would be weeks before the nation's fourth largest city is fully back up and running.

Heavy morning rains hampered rescue efforts in the hardest-hit areas of the Texas and Louisiana coasts. Meanwhile, residents who had evacuated and tried to return to the Houston area found interstates and streets blocked by flooding and debris.

Authorities hoped to spare thousands of Texans from another night amid the destruction. Eight deaths have been blamed on the storm, and authorities are worried the toll could rise.

"I'm worried about my mother's medical condition. We haven't been able to get to anyone at the clinic on the phone," said Zee Ellis, whose mother, 80-year-old Ruth Willis, fled Houston with her family ahead of the storm.

As they waited out a downpour along Interstate 10 on Sunday morning, Ellis said her mother's cancer treatments had been interrupted as they had moved from place to place, looking for shelter and electricity.

U.S. President George W. Bush planned to travel to Texas on Tuesday to express sympathy and lend support to the storm's victims. He asked people who evacuated before the hurricane to listen to local authorities before trying to return home.

In Houston a weeklong curfew from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. has been imposed, because most of the city is still without power. Highways, darkened streetlights, and pooled water make it difficult to drive.

"In the interest of safety, we're asking people to not be out in the streets in their vehicles or on foot," the Houston police chief, Harold Hurtt, said.

Continued on Next Page >>


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