The governor ordered 7,500 National Guardsmen to stand by for rapid deployment. The Texas Department of State Health Services is planning for air and ground evacuation of hospital patients along the Texas coast. Five federal medical stations are also being set up to receive medical special needs evacuees.
"We actually ended up keeping most of soldiers on state active duty orders from one storm to the other," said Captain Adam Collett with the72nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team. "We were able to get a number of them out on pass for the weekend to spend a little time with their families, but they stayed on orders and were right back here yesterday morning helping to prepare for our response to this event."
After a storm, National Guard troops help with everything from handing out food and water to processing evacuees. Their high-profile vehicles help them reach flooded areas quickly.
Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell and other energy companies have started pulling their personnel from offshore oil rigs and platforms. Many companies still had not returned all of the workers they had evacuated ahead of Hurricane Gustav. Gulf oil production is also only at about 23 percent.
Texas Task Force 1 is also deploying in preparation for Hurricane Ike. The elite search and rescue team is gathering at its headquarters in College Station. They have deployed four times in the past six weeks, but are still getting ready to tackle Ike with helicopter, water and urban rescue teams.
Hurricane preparations have been scaled back in some areas Tuesday.
In Galveston, the Office of Emergency Management is playing it safe. The mayor will decide tomorrow if any evacuations will be ordered. Brazoria County will announce today if it will evacuate special needs residents tomorrow. And TxDOT crews are clearing debris from roads and preparing for contra-flow.
If needed, Harris County would evacuate after Galveston and Brazoria Counties. The preparations would be similar to what happened in New Orleans before Gustav. Harris County Judge Ed Emmett says if evacuations are ordered, Harris County would call for evacuations 40 hours before projected landfall.
However, Harris County's Precinct 2 is making its own special preparations for Ike. Precinct 2 includes the Ship Channel, NASA, the Port of Houston and a slew of petrochemical refineries. They have a satellite emergency management center and will hold a press conference this afternoon.
The Houston Area Red Cross is working with the state on sheltering residents in the event of evacuations in our area. Red Cross officials say they will have primary shelters set up San Antonio, Austin and Dallas. Special needs evacuees in particular are being asked to go to one of these cities.
The Red Cross will also have what they call interim shelters in College Station, Lufkin and Huntsville. This is for people who can't make to San Antonio, Austin or Dallas. But again, as of right now, no evacuation orders have been given for our area.
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