2,000 Down, 138,000 to Go: Authorities Aid Those Who Stayed Behind

The boats scattered inland and flooded roads of Texas aren't the biggest concerns for rescuers after Hurricane Ike. The most urgent project facing rescue crews is to try to reach people who remain stuck in their homes thanks to flooding that accompanied the storm.

In a Sunday afternoon news conference, authorities said 1,984 people had been rescued so far, including 394 by air.

In hard-hit Galveston, where Ike came ashore early Saturday, a door-to-door search continues. The only roadway to the island, Interstate 45, is closed to all but emergency vehicles and is blocked in areas by debris, including boats.

Officials had to use the opposite side of the highway to get to Galveston. It could take up to a month to restore power in Galveston, they say, and roads are still flooded.

Hurricane damaged boats

In Houston, authorities imposed a curfew from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. because of downed power lines, water pooling in roadways and darkened streetlights making it too difficult to navigate at night.

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

Officials warned it could be weeks before the nation's fourth-largest city is fully functional again.

"It's going to have to be a lot of neighbor helping neighbor, because people aren't used to living without power," said Houston Mayor Bill White on "Good Morning America Weekend Edition" today. "We will bring this city back up and it will be stronger than ever before we know it."

Flooded homes in Orange

White said the city likely will have damages in the billions, but was pleased that the majority of residents asked to evacuate did so.

"All of our fire and EMS crews — in a city of 2.2 million — didn't get a single call for a hurricane-related fatality," he said.

Authorities have attributed eight deaths to the storm, including one in Arkansas when a tree fell on a man's mobile home as the remnants of the storm swept through. Five deaths occurred in Texas and two in Louisiana, although authorities said the toll could rise. Residents who tried to return home found that flooded roads and debris-blocked streets prevented them from doing so, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry urged people not to try to return just yet.

The Mayor of Houston

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.

Towns Underwater

Heavy morning rains hindered rescuers' effort to aid the hardest-hit areas of the Texas and Louisiana coasts.

In Orange, Texas, which is near the Louisiana border, residents couldn't wait for help and took matters into their own hands after a town levee reportedly broke and turned minor flooding into a major disaster.

The volunteers used fishing boats to evacuate trapped residents like the sick, elderly and their pets. Some rescued residents who had been urged to evacuate said they didn't have the money or any place to go.

Home destroyed by hurricane Ike

The result was hundreds of people trapped in homes with water literally at their doorsteps -- or higher.

Nearby Bridge City also found itself underwater.

"People are sleeping in their attics with holes punched out — thought it was safer ground there," said one man.

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...