Gov. Perry Issues State Disaster Declaration; Requests Presidential Declaration

AUSTIN - Gov. Rick Perry today issued a disaster declaration in response to the significant threat posed by Hurricane Ike to 88 Texas counties. The governor's declaration allows the state to initiate necessary preparedness efforts, such as pre-deploying resources requested by local officials to ensure their communities are ready to respond to severe weather.  Gov. Perry also requested a presidential disaster declaration for these 88 counties.

The governor has called on state resources to prepare for Hurricane Ike, which is expected to strengthen as it enters the Gulf of Mexico.  State resources are ready for rapid deployment as necessary, and volunteer organizations are prepared to provide mass care support for residents as needed.

"While Hurricane Gustav is still fresh on the minds of coastal residents, we must now turn our attention to Hurricane Ike as it poses a potential threat to the Texas coast," said Gov. Perry.  "Hurricanes by their nature are unpredictable, and although we cannot predict to a certainty where Ike will make landfall, we continue to monitor this storm and prepare for any potential impact on our communities.  I urge coastal residents to do the same and heed warnings from their local leaders to help protect their families, homes and businesses."

According to the National Weather Service, Texas is among the Gulf States in the projected path of Hurricane Ike, which is currently a category two hurricane with winds up to 100 mph.  Once Ike reaches the warmer waters of the Gulf of Mexico, it is expected to strengthen before making landfall.

Texas has taken the following actions:

Texas Military Forces: Up to 7,500 guardsmen and 19 aerial resources are on standby for deployment as needed.

Texas Engineering Extension Service: Texas Task Force 1 and Texas Task Force 2 are on standby if search and rescue capabilities are needed.

Texas Department of Transportation: Dynamic message signs are being used to urge residents along the coast to fuel up their vehicles.

Texas Forest Service: TFS continues to staff the resource staging area in Lufkin and is identifying incident management team personnel, as well as medical personnel that may be provided by local fire departments.

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality: TCEQ is working on extending authorization for the current fuel waivers and is prepared to respond to impacts from Hurricane Ike.  A strike team capable of handling hazardous materials is on standby.  TCEQ is working with local agencies to be prepared to address any environmental impact issues that may result from Ike.

Fuel Team: The Fuel Team is working to ensure adequate fuel supplies along potential evacuation routes and monitoring demand increases.  The industry reminds Texans to maintain fuel in their personal vehicles.

Additionally, Texas is coordinating with the State of Oklahoma, which is prepared to shelter 12,500 medical special needs patients from Texas if necessary.

Individuals who cannot self-evacuate can let responders know who and where they are before an emergency or evacuation takes place by calling 2-1-1.

The Emergency Management Council and State Operations Center are fully activated. The State Operations Center is closely monitoring Hurricane Ike, and holding twice daily conference calls with federal, state and local officials, private industry partners, volunteer organizations, and the National Weather Service.