Authorities: Nearly 2,000 saved post-Hurricane Ike - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Galveston, Texas

Authorities: Nearly 2,000 saved post-Hurricane Ike

By CHRISTOPHER SHERMAN

Associated Press Writer

GALVESTON, Texas (AP) - Rescue crews canvassing neighborhoods

with dump trucks, helicopters and airboats have saved nearly 2,000

residents who ignored evacuation orders and stayed to face

Hurricane Ike, authorities said Sunday.

Heavy morning rains hampered rescue efforts in the hardest-hit

areas of the Texas and Louisiana coasts, but crews worked around

the clock to go door-to-door to find any survivors of the massive

storm. Those plucked from flooded homes were being loaded onto a

fleet of buses, bound for shelters farther north.

Leaders in communities along the devastated coast warned it

would be weeks, even months, before the towns were livable.

Two-story homes had been flattened into pancakes, yachts were

tossed like toys onto major roads, and utilities were cut off.

"Galveston has been hit hard. We have no power. We have no gas.

We have no communications. We're not sure when any of that will be

up and running," Galveston Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas said. "We want

our citizens to stay where they are. Do not come back to Galveston.

You cannot live here right now."

President 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.

The storm had frozen the nation's fourth-largest city as it

moved inland. Houston officials imposed a weeklong curfew from 9

p.m. to 6 a.m. because most of the city was still without power.

Darkened streetlights and pooled water on highways made it

difficult to drive. Schools called off classes Monday, and the

downtown business was shuttered until further notice. The airports

also were closed to flights.

"In the interest of safety, we're asking people to not be out

in the streets in their vehicles or on foot," Chief Harold Hurtt

said.

Residents of the tiny community of Seabrook, near Johnson Space

Center, were met by a roadblock as they tried to return home, and

police officers standing in the rain turned them away. At times the

line was six to 12 cars deep.

"It's gonna be a while," an officer shouted to one man as he

made a U-turn. "Just listen to the news."

The storm also took a toll in Louisiana, where hundreds of homes

were flooded and power outages worsened as the state struggles to

recover from Labor Day's Hurricane Gustav. In Hackberry, La., about

15 miles from the coast, workers moved a large shrimp boat out of

the highway with a bulldozer, but the team had to stop because of

strong currents in the floodwaters and difficulty in seeing the

roadway.

"You can't see the sides of the road, and if you left the road,

you'd just be swept away," National Guard spokeswoman Sgt. Rebekah

Malone said. About 20 people had been evacuated by boat in

Hackberry.

Hundreds of residents were wrapped around a high school in

Galveston, some carrying pets, overstuffed duffel bags and

medication as they waited to board a coach bus to a shelter. Some

didn't know where they were going, and even more didn't know when

they could return.

Ldyyan Jonjocque, 61, waited to board a bus while holding the

leashes of her four Australian shepherd dogs. she said she had to

leave two dogs behind in her home. She wept when she recounted

officers having to rescue her in a dump truck.

"I have nowhere to go," she said.

On one side of the Galveston peninsula, two barges had broken

loose and smashed into homes. Everything from red vinyl barstools

to clay roof tiles littered the landscape. The second floor of some

homes sat where the first had been before Ike's surge washed it

out, and only framed remained below the roofs of others, opening a

clear view from front yard to back.

Nine deaths were blamed on the storm - six in Texas, two in

Louisiana and one in Arkansas. Authorities said Sunday three people

were found dead in Galveston, including one person found in a

submerged vehicle near the airport. A 4-year-old Houston boy died

of carbon monoxide poisoning caused by his family's generator,

which was inside his home. Another person died in Arkansas when a

tree fell on his mobile home as the remnants swept through.

In Orange, Texas, Mayor Brown Claybar estimated about a third of

the city of 19,000 people was flooded, from 6 inches of water to 6

feet. He said about 375 people who stayed behind during the storm

had begun to emerge, some needing food, water and medical care.

"These people got out with the wet shirts on their back," said

Claybar. He said he did not know how many were still stranded, and

didn't know exactly how long it would take to pump water out of the

city.

Ike was the first major storm to directly hit a major U.S. metro

area since Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005.

Ike weakened to a tropical depression early Sunday morning, but

was still packing winds up to 35 mph as it dumped rain over

Arkansas and traveled across Missouri. Tornado warning sirens

sounded Saturday in parts of Arkansas, and the storm downed trees

and knocked out power to thousands there.

Rescue crews were still finding it difficult to get into some

flooded neighborhoods, and were angered so many defied evacuation

orders. Though more than a million people did leave, by some

estimates, as many as 140,000 stayed.

SWAT team commander Sgt. Rodney Harrison and five other members

of the Port Arthur Police Department drove a 2½-ton truck into the

waters to search for victims in Sabine Pass near the Louisiana

border Sunday morning. The waters were so intense and the roads so

blocked, a gear shift broke off in the driver's hand.

"You have people that have families at home who put their lives

on the line to come out here and save somebody that made a bad

decision," he said. "I don't think that's right. I don't think

that's fair to everybody."

---

Associated Press Writers Pauline Arrillaga and Chris Duncan in

Houston, Jay Root and Kelley Shannon in Austin, Doug Simpson in

Baton Rouge, April Castro, Mark Williams and Andre Coe in College

Station, Allen G. Breed in Surfside Beach, Juan Lozano in Orange,

Elizabeth White in San Antonio and Michael Kunzelman contributed to

this report.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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