AUSTIN - Gov. Rick Perry today issued an emergency proclamation authorizing public utility companies in Texas to speed relief and recovery efforts by laying temporary electric transmission lines to restore power lost as a result of Hurricane Ike. Perry also met with President Bush during his visits to Houston and Galveston to survey storm-affected areas.
"Restoring power is one of the most critical, humanitarian challenges we face in the immediate aftermath of this natural disaster," Perry said. "This proclamation will help public utility companies restore electricity faster to millions of homes, hospitals, schools and businesses affected by Hurricane Ike."
The governor's proclamation will grant public utilities in Texas the authority to enter public and private property and install temporary electric transmission lines to restore power in East Texas and along the coast. The directive removes the lengthy easement acquisition process which could otherwise take months. Companies must use existing utility and roadway easements when reasonably available, and must also provide landowners with a letter justifying their authority to access private grounds. Gov. Perry took the same action following Hurricane Rita in 2005.
Power companies in areas affected by Hurricane Ike continue to work around the clock to restore electricity. To date, power has been restored to 800,000 customers; however nearly 2 million customers remain without power. The Public Utility Commission (PUC) of Texas has launched a feature on its website to allow customers to check power outages by entering their utility provider and zip code at http://www.puc.state.tx.us/files/ike.cfm.
At the state's request, federal transitional housing assistance is now available to those Texas evacuees with inaccessible or uninhabitable homes. The list of approved hotels/motels can be found at: www.femaevachotels.com. Please note that the number of approved hotels/motels is constantly being updated. To register for transitional housing assistance, visit www.fema.gov or call toll free at 1-800-621-3362 or 1-800-462-7585.
Monday evening, at the state's request, the federal government granted Texas a federal waiver to provide emergency food stamps to eligible low-income individuals and families living in any of the 29 counties that were declared disaster areas. Current food stamp recipients living in those areas will automatically receive replacement benefits for a portion of their September benefits. In addition, residents in Rusk and Leon counties will also receive replacement for a portion of their September benefits due to extensive power outages in that area. The replacement benefits will help more than 500,000 Texans in areas where power outages or flooding damaged or destroyed a family's food supply.
For a comprehensive overview of the state's activity related to Hurricane Ike response and recovery, please visit the Hurricane Center on the governor's website at: http://www.governor.state.tx.us.
Search and rescue (SAR) efforts are ongoing along the Texas coast. To date, more than 3,540 residents from coastal areas have been rescued by air, ground and water. As of Tuesday afternoon, 270 shelters were open throughout the state housing more than 29,800 evacuees; more than 1,322 truckloads of water and 1,161 truckloads of ice have been distributed throughout the storm-affected areas.
Texas residents who have been displaced by Hurricane Ike who evacuated to another state may call 1-877-541-7905 to reach the Texas 2-1-1 network and obtain information on how and where to apply for food stamp benefits or seek additional assistance.