Storm Watch: Ike Update

News Release:

AUSTIN - Gov. Rick Perry today ordered the pre-deployment of state resources as Hurricane Ike continues to track toward the Texas coast.  Today's action follows the governor's disaster declaration for 88 counties issued on Monday and readies the state to provide assistance to local officials.

"We continue to closely monitor this storm and are preparing accordingly for its potential impact to our communities," said Gov. Perry.  "Hurricane Ike is making its way to the Gulf as we speak, and it is imperative that residents pay attention to this storm, heed warnings from their local leaders, and take the steps necessary to protect their families, homes and businesses."

According to the National Weather Service, Texas remains in the projected path of Hurricane Ike, which is currently a category one hurricane with winds up to 75 mph.  Once Ike reaches the warmer waters of the Gulf of Mexico, it is expected to strengthen before making landfall.

In anticipation of Ike's landfall, up to 1,350 buses are available to support potential evacuations, with more than 800 en route today to pre-stage in San Antonio and 150 to Bee County.

Texas has taken the following actions:

Texas Military Forces: Up to 7,500 guardsmen are on standby for rapid deployment as needed.  Six UH-60 helicopters are stationed in Austin and four in San Antonio, and five C-130 aircraft are on standby in Fort Worth.

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 Department of Public Safety: Commercial Vehicle Enforcement troopers are inspecting buses in San Antonio that may be needed for evacuations. More than 100 troopers across Texas are pre-staging in Corpus Christi, and the regional DPS Disaster District operations centers have been activated in San Antonio, Corpus Christi and McAllen.

Texas Department of State Health Services: Planning is under way for air and ground evacuation of hospital patients as needed along the Texas coast from Corpus Christi southward.  Five federal medical stations are being set up to receive medical special needs evacuees.

Health and Human Services Commission: The state's 2-1-1 information and referral network has answered more than 3,000 calls related to Ike since midnight.

Department of Aging and Disability Services: Nursing homes and other licensed facilities in coastal regions are being contacted to make sure their emergency plans are up-to-date.  Staff are closely monitoring conditions to ensure the safety of those at the Corpus Christi State School.

Department of Family and Protective Services: The agency is instructing foster parents and other caregivers how to report the whereabouts of children in foster care if they evacuate.

Texas Department of Criminal Justice: Today TDCJ took the precaution of moving 12 female dialysis patients from the Carole S. Young Medical Facility Complex in Dickinson to the Estelle Unit in Huntsville. TDCJ is staging nearly 60 inmate transport buses in the Beeville area should the evacuation of South Texas facilities become necessary.

Texas Forest Service: TFS continues to staff the resource staging area in Lufkin and five incident management teams are pre-positioning in College Station today, as well as medical personnel that may be provided by local fire departments.

Texas Department of Agriculture: The Texas Department of Agriculture is prepared to distribute food commodities and will coordinate distribution efforts with the Salvation Army and American Red Cross. Plans are underway to protect livestock in the Texas Department of Agriculture's export pens in the path of Ike.

Public Utility Commission of Texas: The PUC is asking electric providers and telecommunications companies along the gulf coast to begin emergency preparations, such as reviewing emergency operations plans, updating critical care customer lists, checking inventories, and alerting crews.

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality: TCEQ has requested an extended authorization for the fuel waivers for Gustav and is prepared to respond to impacts from Hurricane Ike.  A strike team capable of handling hazardous materials is pre-positioning in Austin today.  TCEQ is working with local agencies to be prepared to address any environmental impact issues that may result from Ike.

Texas Department of Insurance: TDI continues to monitor Hurricane Ike and remains in contact with its insurance stakeholder group, the Texas State Disaster Coalition.  The department will continue its extended Consumer Help Line hours.

Texas Department of Information Resources: DIR will work with vendor, state and federal partners to identify and map critical telecommunications infrastructure in the anticipated impact region to track for damage assessments.  DIR is also contacting state agency customers to determine if they need their data backup tapes secured to a safe location.

Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs:  Hurricane housing resources for communities are on the agency's website ( TDHCA is reminding all affordable housing rental owners statewide to keep their apartment vacancy information current as they supply information to TDHCA. TDHCA will contact community action agencies in the projected path of the storm and advise them that they may be called upon to serve additional persons based on the events transpiring.

Texas Animal Health Commission: TAHC is coordinating with its member agencies and encouraging residents to call 2-1-1 for the latest shelter information for pets and livestock.

Fuel Team: The Fuel Team is working to ensure adequate fuel supplies along potential evacuation routes and monitoring demand increases.

Individuals who are unable to evacuate themselves 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.