Gov. Rick Perry visits with Mayor Barbara Bass of Tyler and members of the Texas State Guard outside a shelter in Tyler where evacuees fled Hurricane Gustav on Sept. 3.
AUSTIN – With the latest forecasts showing potential landfall for Hurricane Ike to be somewhere along the Texas coast, Gov. Rick Perry issued a disaster declaration that will allow the state to begin preparation efforts. Texas Military Forces: Up to 7,500 guardsmen and 19 aerial resources are on standby for deployment as needed.
A Sept. 8 press release from the governor's office said with the declaration in place for 88 Texas counties – including Jefferson and Orange – state resources that are requested by local officials can be pre-deployed to ensure communities are ready to respond. Perry has also requested a presidential disaster declaration.
As of press time, Jefferson and Orange county emergency management officials had called for a mandatory evacuation of the area beginning Sept. 11.
"While Hurricane Gustav is still fresh on the minds of coastal residents, we must now turn our attention to Hurricane Ike as it poses a potential threat to the Texas coast," Gov. Perry said. "Hurricanes by their nature are unpredictable, and although we cannot predict to a certainty where Ike will make landfall, we continue to monitor this storm and prepare for any potential impact on our communities. I urge coastal residents to do the same and heed warnings from their local leaders to help protect their families, homes and businesses."
State resources are ready for rapid deployment as necessary, and volunteer organizations are prepared to provide mass care support for residents as needed, the governor's office said.
According to the National Weather Service, Texas is among the Gulf States in the projected path of Hurricane Ike, which is currently a category two hurricane with winds up to 100 mph. Once Ike reaches the warmer waters of the Gulf of Mexico, it is expected to strengthen before making landfall.
According to the press release, Texas has taken the following actions:
Texas Engineering Extension Service: Texas Task Force 1 and Texas Task Force 2 are on standby if search and rescue capabilities are needed.
Texas Department of Transportation: Dynamic message signs are being used to urge residents along the coast to fuel up their vehicles.
Texas Forest Service: TFS continues to staff the resource staging area in Lufkin and is identifying incident management team personnel, as well as medical personnel that may be provided by local fire departments.
Texas Commission on Environmental Quality: TCEQ is working on extending authorization for the current fuel waivers and is prepared to respond to impacts from Hurricane Ike. A strike team capable of handling hazardous materials is on standby. TCEQ is working with local agencies to be prepared to address any environmental impact issues that may result from Ike.
Fuel Team: The Fuel Team is working to ensure adequate fuel supplies along potential evacuation routes and monitoring demand increases. The industry reminds Texans to maintain fuel in their personal vehicles.
Additionally, Texas is coordinating with the State of Oklahoma, which is prepared to shelter 12,500 medical special needs patients from Texas if necessary.
Individuals who cannot self-evacuate can let responders know who and where they are before an emergency or evacuation takes place by calling 2-1-1.
The Emergency Management Council and State Operations Center are fully activated. The State Operations Center is closely monitoring Hurricane Ike, and holding twice daily conference calls with federal, state and local officials, private industry partners, volunteer organizations, and the National Weather Service.
For the latest information and to view the disaster proclamation visit http://www.governor.state.tx.us/hurricane/.