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
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
"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
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
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