Galveston Residents to Return Wednesday

21 09 2008

Residents of Galveston Island, Texas, who were evacuated before Hurricane Ike strafed the Texas Gulf coast can return to their homes Wednesday, but they will find few comforts, Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas said Saturday.

Galveston has little or no electricity, natural gas, water or sewer services. There are no medical facilities, there is limited cell phone coverage, and a curfew is in place from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. Violators risk a $2,000 fine, the mayor said in a statement.

Galveston took a direct hit from Ike when it barreled ashore September 13 as a Category 2 storm. Despite orders to evacuate, about 20,000 of Galveston’s 60,000 residents opted to remain in their homes. Many of those who left went to shelters.

Thomas said residents can begin returning at 6 a.m. (7 a.m. ET) Wednesday. Residents and business owners must show photo identification verifying their address to guards manning checkpoints, she said.

“Very limited water, sewer, natural gas, and electric services have been restored to areas behind the seawall,” the mayor said in a statement.

Residents of the heavily damaged west end of the island can assess their damages but must leave the area by 6 p.m., Thomas said.

“Water, sewer, natural gas, and electric services have not been restored to areas west of seawall. Therefore, sanitary living conditions are not available at this time,” she said.

Thomas gave a long list of supplies residents should take with them when they return.





‘Certain Death’ For Ike

12 09 2008

The National Weather Service in Houston told residents along Galveston Bay on Thursday night they “face certain death” if they don’t leave home before Hurricane Ike roars ashore.

The last time forecasters used blunt language was three years ago as Hurricane Katrina closed in on New Orleans.

In fact, the last time they did was three years ago as Hurricane Katrina closed in on New Orleans and the Gulf coast.

Forecasters expect the powerful Category 2 storm to strengthen before its center makes landfall late Friday or early Saturday. The storm is so big that it fills most of the Gulf of Mexico.

Roughly 3.5 million people live in the storm’s impact zone, according to federal estimates.

The weather service painted a vivid picture in its warning of the destruction it expects: a towering wall of water — possibly up to 22 feet high — crashing over the Galveston Bay shoreline as the brunt of Ike comes ashore. That wall of water could send floodwaters surging into Houston, more than 20 miles inland.

“All neighborhoods … and possibly entire coastal communities … will be inundated during the peak storm tide,” the weather service warned. “Persons not heeding evacuation orders in single family one or two story homes will face certain death.”

The August 2005 warning for Katrina said “most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks … perhaps longer” and that people and animals “exposed to the winds will face certain death.”

Shocking at the time, the warning proved largely correct. Parts of New Orleans and the Gulf coast still bear the scars of Katrina and remain uninhabitable.

More than 1,800 people died after Hurricane Katrina. Hundreds more were never accounted for.

What makes Hurricane Ike so intimidating to forecasters involves the location they expect it to make landfall — near Galveston Island, just south of Houston.

If that happens — hurricane tracks are hard to predict and subject to change — the storm’s counter-clockwise rotation would push water into Galveston Bay for hour upon hour, battering sea walls and structures.

The final storm surge — the one that could exceed 20 feet in height — would come as the eye of crosses the shoreline.

A slight northward change in Ike’s path could spare much the Houston area and its millions of residents from catastrophic flooding by keeping the surge out of the bay and pushing it to less-populated areas.





‘Certain Death’ For Ike

12 09 2008

The National Weather Service in Houston told residents along Galveston Bay on Thursday night they “face certain death” if they don’t leave home before Hurricane Ike roars ashore.

The last time forecasters used blunt language was three years ago as Hurricane Katrina closed in on New Orleans.

In fact, the last time they did was three years ago as Hurricane Katrina closed in on New Orleans and the Gulf coast.

Forecasters expect the powerful Category 2 storm to strengthen before its center makes landfall late Friday or early Saturday. The storm is so big that it fills most of the Gulf of Mexico.

Roughly 3.5 million people live in the storm’s impact zone, according to federal estimates.

The weather service painted a vivid picture in its warning of the destruction it expects: a towering wall of water — possibly up to 22 feet high — crashing over the Galveston Bay shoreline as the brunt of Ike comes ashore. That wall of water could send floodwaters surging into Houston, more than 20 miles inland.

“All neighborhoods … and possibly entire coastal communities … will be inundated during the peak storm tide,” the weather service warned. “Persons not heeding evacuation orders in single family one or two story homes will face certain death.”

The August 2005 warning for Katrina said “most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks … perhaps longer” and that people and animals “exposed to the winds will face certain death.”

Shocking at the time, the warning proved largely correct. Parts of New Orleans and the Gulf coast still bear the scars of Katrina and remain uninhabitable.

More than 1,800 people died after Hurricane Katrina. Hundreds more were never accounted for.

What makes Hurricane Ike so intimidating to forecasters involves the location they expect it to make landfall — near Galveston Island, just south of Houston.

If that happens — hurricane tracks are hard to predict and subject to change — the storm’s counter-clockwise rotation would push water into Galveston Bay for hour upon hour, battering sea walls and structures.

The final storm surge — the one that could exceed 20 feet in height — would come as the eye of crosses the shoreline.

A slight northward change in Ike’s path could spare much the Houston area and its millions of residents from catastrophic flooding by keeping the surge out of the bay and pushing it to less-populated areas.





STUD: Ike Details

11 09 2008

U.S. and Mexican forecasters said Hurricane Ike was gaining size and strength over the Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday after the storm battered parts of Cuba this week.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami upgraded Ike to a Category 2 storm Wednesday afternoon and said it would become a “major hurricane” — a Category 3 storm — by Thursday.

Mexico’s National Meteorological Service said “favourable conditions exist for Ike to reach Category 3″ before landfall.

The storm was expected to slam into Texas or northern Mexico on Saturday. Its most likely target is Corpus Christi, Texas.

Forecasters said in an update at 5 p.m. ET that the eye of the storm was about 375 kilometres north of Cancun, Mexico, and 590 km southeast of the Mississippi River Delta. Maximum sustained winds were said to be about 160 kilometres an hour, with gusts to 195 km/h.

Evacuation could affect 1 million

In Mexico, cities in the coastal state of Tamaulipas were put on alert and began precautionary maintenance work on sewers and canals to ensure rain and floodwaters can quickly drain.

Rescue agencies began setting up emergency shelters for people who may have to flee from the storm.

Officials in Texas began to roll out evacuation plans on Wednesday.

A total of 88 coastal counties have already been declared disaster areas by Texas Gov. Rick Perry to ensure they receive state aid if needed.

Perry has also put 7,500 National Guard troops on standby and drawn up a possible evacuation route.

Officials in Matagorda County, about halfway between Houston and Corpus Christi, began a mandatory evacuation for residents in its coastal areas.

Elsewhere, residents who have special needs were urged to move inland.

In all, officials predicted that one million people in coastal communities in Texas near the Mexican border may be forced to leave their homes.

Texas officials told residents who live in areas likely to be hit by the hurricane to keep an eye on weather reports and fill their vehicles with gas.

“We have a fuel team that is part of the state operation system in Austin,” said Allison Castle, spokeswoman for Perry.

“They are helping to push fuel to hurricane areas. One of the lessons we learned from past hurricanes is we need to have fuel ready,” she said.

On Tuesday, the hurricane churned across Cuba, destroying and damaging homes, killing at least four people and forcing 2.6 million people to seek refuge, according to Cuban state television. It has been blamed for at least 80 deaths in the Caribbean, mostly in Haiti.

Power had not been completely restored in Havana, the Cuban capital, as of Wednesday morning.





STUD: Hurricane Ike

9 09 2008

Hurricane Ike is becoming stronger as it moves into the warm, Gulf of Mexico waters. The next stop on Ike’s destructive tour could be the U.S. Gulf Coast by the end of the week, possibly as a major 111-mph hurricane.

Ike, even though it is exiting Cuba, will still bring a bit of destructive weather tonight, generally in the form of heavy, flooding rains, damaging winds and battering surf. A bit of Ike`s rain and wind, although significantly less than what Cuba has experienced, will continue across the Florida Keys tonight.

Ike has already produced widespread damage across Cuba since late Monday. The island government is reporting at least four deaths, 18 injuries and widespread destruction to homes, especially across the eastern half of the nation.

Over the weekend, the hurricane was highly destructive in the Turk and Caicos Islands as well as Haiti and the Dominican Republic. More than 300 people dead have been reported in Haiti following the wrath of Ike.

Tropical Storm Warnings are in effect for both the western provinces of Cuba and for the Florida Keys from west of the seven mile bridge west to Dry Tortugas.Hurricane Ike Satellite ImageHurricane Ike Storm Track MapHurricane Ike Wind Speed Probability MapHurricane Ike Current Status








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