Gov. Rick Perry today called on fuel terminal owners and operators to begin refueling service stations as quickly as possible so Hurricane Rita evacuees can return home as soon as state and local emergency officials determine the affected areas are safe.
“As more than 2.5 million evacuees from Hurricane Rita prepare to head back home, we need to ensure there are adequate fuel supplies along the routes,” Perry said in a special announcement to fuel terminal operators. “If you will open your terminal throughout this weekend, we can begin refueling service stations along the major roadways.”
Perry asked fuel terminal owners to fill any request, even those outside their normal contractual arrangements.
“We are in extraordinary circumstances,” Perry said, adding that fuel terminal operators would be reimbursed for all shipments.
The Governor cautioned that evacuees should not yet begin returning to the affected areas.
“I can’t say in strong enough terms to those who evacuated the coastal region that they should not begin their return for the time being,” Perry said. “We are not through assessing the damage and cannot assure you at this time that your community is safe to return to.”
Perry said state and local emergency leaders are developing a plan to stagger the return of evacuees.
“The bottom line is if you have a safe place to stay, you are better remaining there for the time being,” Perry said.
An audio file with the Governor’s message to fuel terminal operators is available online at www.governor.state.tx.us.