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Author Topic:   Hurricanes
indiedan
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Posts: 6921
From:Santa Monica
Registered: May 2000

posted September 21, 2005 11:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for indiedan   Click Here to Email indiedan     Edit/Delete Message
Something happened to the Hurricane Katrina thread. Here's a new, more general one.

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Rita Plows Across Gulf; Evacuations Begin By PAM EASTON, Associated Press Writer

Hospital and nursing home patients were evacuated and as many as 1 million others were ordered to clear out along the Gulf Coast on Wednesday as Hurricane Rita intensified into a Category 4 storm with 140 mph winds that could batter Texas and bring more misery to New Orleans by week's end.

Galveston, parts of Houston and New Orleans were under mandatory evacuation orders, one day after Rita sideswiped the Florida Keys as a Category 2 storm and caused minor damage.

Having seen what Hurricane Katrina did just three weeks ago, many people decided not to take any chances.

"After this killer in New Orleans, Katrina, I just cannot fathom staying," 59-year-old Ldyyan Jean Jocque said before sunrise as she waited for an evacuation bus outside the Galveston Community Center. She had packed her Bible, some music and clothes into plastic bags and loaded her dog into a pet carrier.

The federal government was eager to show it, too, had learned its lesson after being criticized for its sluggish response to Katrina. It rushed hundreds of truckloads of water, ice and ready-made meals to the Gulf Coast and put rescue and medical teams on standby.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff urged residents in the threatened areas to get out.

"You can't play around with this storm," he said on ABC's "Good Morning America." He added: "The lesson is that when the storm hits, the best place to be is to be out of the path of the storm."

At 11 a.m. EDT, Rita was centered about 260 miles west of Key West, Fla., and 775 miles southeast of Corpus Christi, Texas, moving west at near 13 mph. Forecasters predicted it would come ashore Saturday somewhere along the central Texas Gulf Coast between Galveston and Corpus Christi. But even a slight turn and a glancing blow could prove devastating to New Orleans.

Meteorologist Chris Landsea of the National Hurricane Center in Miami said Rita could strengthen to a Category 5 with wind over 155 mph as it moves over the warm waters of the gulf, or it could ease to a Category 3, with wind of less than 130 mph.

Galveston County, population 267,000, was ordered evacuated, along with low-lying, flood-prone areas of Houston, which at its lowest point is 6 feet above sea level. As many as 1 million people in the Houston-Galveston area were under orders to get out by daybreak Thursday, said Frank Michel, spokesman for Houston Mayor Bill White. Houston, Texas' biggest city, is about 50 miles northwest of Galveston.

Other areas told to evacuate included Cameron Parish, in Louisiana's southwestern corner, with 9,700 residents.

Galveston, situated on a coastal island 8 feet above sea level, was the site of one of the deadliest natural disasters in U.S. history: an unnamed hurricane in 1900 that killed between 6,000 and 12,000 people.

"Let's hope that the hurricane does not hit at a Category 4 strength and let's hope the lessons we've learned — the painful, tragic lessons that have been learned in the last few weeks — will best prepare us for what could happen with Rita," Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu (news, bio, voting record) said in New York.

The death toll from Katrina along the Gulf Coast climbed past 1,000 Wednesday to 1,036. The body count in Lousiana alone was put at 799 by the state Health Department.

In New Orleans, the Army Corps of Engineers raced to patch the city's fractured levee system for fear the additional rain could swamp the walls and flood the city all over again. The Corps said New Orleans' levees can only handle up to 6 inches of rain and a storm surge of 10 to 12 feet.

"The protection is very tenuous at best," said Dave Wurtzel, a Corps official handling some of the repairs.

Engineers and contractors drove a massive metal barrier across the 17th Street Canal bed to prevent a storm surge from Lake Pontchartrain from swamping New Orleans again, and worked around the clock to repair the damaged pumps, concrete floodwalls, earthen berms and channels that protect the below-sea-level city.

In addition, the corps had 800 giant sandbags weighing 6,000 to 15,000 pounds on hand, and ordered 2,500 more to shore up low spots and plug any new breaches.

The federal government's top official in the city, Coast Guard Vice Adm. Thad Allen, said the preparations in and around New Orleans included 500 buses for evacuation, and enough water and military meals for 500,000 people.

Buses stood by at the city's convention center to evacuate the 400 to 500 residents Mayor Ray Nagin estimated were left in the main part of the city, on the east bank of the Mississippi River. Two busloads left on Tuesday. But almost no one showed up Wednesday morning.

"The majority of people who are back in the city came with their own vehicle. We expect them to go out in their own vehicle," said Spc. Amber Mangham, a military police officer at the convention center.

The evacuation order meant that for the second time in 3 1/2 weeks, many New Orleans residents were forced to decide whether to stay or go. Also, many Katrina victims still in shelters faced the prospect of being uprooted again. At the Cajun Dome in Lafayette, emergency officials arranged to take the 1,000 refugees from the New Orleans area out on buses if Rita tracks north.

Along the Texas Gulf Coast, authorities rushed to get the old and infirm out of harm's way, three weeks after scores of sick and elderly nursing home patients in the New Orleans area drowned in Katrina's floodwaters or died in the stifling heat while waiting to be rescued.

In Galveston, the Edgewater Retirement Community, a six-story building situated near the city's seawall, began evacuating its more than 200 nursing home patients and independent retirees by chartered bus and ambulance.

"They either go with a family member or they go with us, but this building is not safe sitting on the seawall with a major hurricane coming," said David Hastings, executive director. "I have had several say, `I don't want to go,' and I said, `I'm sorry, you're going.'"

Nearby at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, the hospital discharged 200 patients healthy enough to go home and evacuated others by helicopter, ambulance and buses.

"There are going to be some people who are too sick to evacuate and we are going to keep them here," said spokeswoman Jennifer Reynolds-Sanchez.

About 80 buses were set to leave Galveston beginning at midmorning, bound for shelters 100 miles north in Huntsville. Dozens of people lined up, carrying pillows, bags and coolers, to board one of several yellow school buses leaving the city of 58,000.

"The real lesson (from Katrina) that I think the citizens learned is that the people in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi did not leave in time," said Galveston Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas. "We've always asked people to leave earlier, but because of Katrina, they are now listening to us and they're leaving as we say."

Crude oil prices rose again on concern that Rita would smash into key oil facilities in Texas and the Gulf of Mexico. Hundreds of workers were evacuated from offshore oil rigs, less than a month after Katrina damaged some installations. Texas, the heart of U.S. crude production, accounts for 25 percent of the nation's total oil output.

As Rita stormed away from Florida, thousands of residents who evacuated the Keys were expected to begin returning on Wednesday. There were reports of flooding and power outages, but U.S. 1, the highway that connects the islands, was passable, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

"It was fairly nothing," said Gary Wood, who owns a bar in Marathon, about 45 miles northeast of Key West. "It came through and had a good stiff wind, but that was about it."

Rita is the 17th named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, making this the fourth-busiest season since record-keeping started in 1851. The record is 21 tropical storms in 1933. Counting Rita, seven hurricanes have hit or passed near Florida in the past 13 1/2 months.

The hurricane season is not over until Nov. 30.

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fred
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From:Redmond, WA
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posted September 21, 2005 01:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for fred   Click Here to Email fred     Edit/Delete Message
I never saw a Hurricane Katrina thread - ???
..........
Rita strengthens to Category 5 hurricane
Katrina was Category 4; wind speeds now 165 mph

The Associated Press

GALVESTON, Texas - Hospital and nursing home patients were evacuated and as many as 1 million other people were ordered to clear out along the Gulf Coast on Wednesday as Hurricane Rita grew to a Category 5, 165-mph monster that could pummel Texas and bring more misery to New Orleans by week’s end.

Forecasters said Rita could be the most intense hurricane on record ever to hit Texas, and one of the most powerful ever to slam into the U.S. mainland.

All of Galveston, vulnerable sections of Houston and Corpus Christi, and a mostly emptied-out New Orleans were under mandatory evacuation orders, one day after Rita sideswiped the Florida Keys as a far weaker storm and caused minor damage.

Having seen what 145-mph Hurricane Katrina did three weeks ago, many people were taking no chances as Rita swirled its way across the Gulf of Mexico.

“After this killer in New Orleans, Katrina, I just cannot fathom staying,” 59-year-old Ldyyan Jean Jocque said before sunrise as she waited for an evacuation bus outside the Galveston Community Center. She had packed her Bible, some music and clothes into plastic bags and loaded her dog into a pet carrier.

Government more prepared this time
The federal government was eager to show it, too, had learned its lesson after being criticized for its sluggish response to Katrina. It rushed hundreds of truckloads of water, ice and ready-made meals to the Gulf Coast and put rescue and medical teams on standby.

“You can’t play around with this storm,” Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” He added: “The lesson is that when the storm hits, the best place to be is to be out of the path of the storm.”

At a news conference Wednesday, R. David Paulison, the new acting director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, laid out the government's preparedness plan. Meals, ice, water, and hospital beds have been set up for those affected by Rita, and helicopters are in place to move emergency teams into position, he said.

Paulison warned Texas residents to get themselves to safety.

“If you don't have a place to go, the state of Texas has shelters in place,” he said. “Take care of your home — put your shutters up. Have a plan for your pets.”

Paulison diverted questions about how his agency dealt with Katrina and expressed confidence in the country's ability to deal with this Rita.

“Texas has a great emergency management system,” he said. “Texas is going to be ready for this storm.”

Storm to come ashore Saturday
By early afternoon, Rita was a Category 4 storm centered more than 700 miles southeast of Corpus Christi, with winds of 150 mph. Forecasters predicted it would come ashore Saturday along the central Texas coast between Galveston and Corpus Christi. But even a slight rightward turn could prove devastating to New Orleans.

Meteorologist Chris Landsea of the National Hurricane Center in Miami said Rita could strengthen into a terrifying Category 5 with wind over 155 mph as it moves over the warm waters of the gulf.

Galveston County, population 267,000, was ordered evacuated, along with low-lying, flood-prone areas of Houston, which at its lowest point is 6 feet above sea level. Altogether, as many as 1 million people in the Houston-Galveston area were under orders to get out, said Frank Michel, spokesman for Houston Mayor Bill White. Houston is about 50 miles northwest of Galveston.

Along the Louisiana coast, some 20,000 people or more were being evacuated or were warned to leave.


Galveston, situated on an island 8 feet above sea level, was the site of the deadliest natural disaster in U.S. history: an unnamed hurricane in 1900 that killed between 6,000 and 12,000 people and practically wiped the city off the map.

The last major hurricane to hit Texas was Alicia in 1983. It flooded downtown Houston, spawned 22 tornadoes and left 21 people dead. The damage from the Category 3 storm was put at more than $2 billion. Tropical Storm Allison flooded Houston in 2001, doing major damage to hospitals and research centers and killing 23 people.

“Let’s hope that the hurricane does not hit at a Category 4 strength and let’s hope the lessons we’ve learned — the painful, tragic lessons that have been learned in the last few weeks — will best prepare us for what could happen with Rita,” Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu said in New York.


Katrina death toll surpassed 1,000
The death toll from Katrina along the Gulf Coast climbed past 1,000 Wednesday to 1,036. The body count in Louisiana alone was put at 799 by the state Health Department.

In New Orleans, the Army Corps of Engineers raced to patch the city’s fractured levee system for fear the additional rain from Rita could swamp the walls and flood the city all over again. The Corps said New Orleans’ levees can only handle up to 6 inches of rain and a storm surge of 10 to 12 feet.

“The protection is very tenuous at best,” said Dave Wurtzel, a Corps official handling some of the repairs.

Engineers and contractors drove a massive metal barrier across the 17th Street Canal bed to prevent a storm surge from Lake Pontchartrain from swamping New Orleans again, and worked around the clock to repair the damaged pumps, concrete floodwalls, earthen berms and channels that protect the below-sea-level city.

In addition, the corps had 800 giant sandbags of 6,000 to 15,000 pounds each on hand, and ordered 2,500 more to shore up low spots and plug any new breaches.

The federal government’s top official in the city, Coast Guard Vice Adm. Thad Allen, said the preparations in and around New Orleans included 500 buses for evacuation, and enough water and military meals for 500,000 people.

New Orleans being evacuated again
Buses stood by at the city’s convention center to evacuate the 400 to 500 residents Mayor Ray Nagin estimated were left in the main part of the city, on the east bank of the Mississippi River. Two busloads left on Tuesday. But almost no one showed up Wednesday morning.

“The majority of people who are back in the city came with their own vehicle. We expect them to go out in their own vehicle,” said Spc. Amber Mangham, a military police officer at the convention center.

The evacuation order meant that for the second time in 3½ weeks, many New Orleans residents were forced to decide whether to stay or go. Also, many Katrina victims still in shelters faced the prospect of being uprooted again. At the Cajun Dome in Lafayette, emergency officials arranged to take the 1,000 refugees from the New Orleans area out on buses if Rita tracks north.

“I don’t think I can stay for another storm,” said Keith Price, a nurse at New Orleans’ University Hospital who stayed through Katrina and had to wade several miles through chest-deep water to reach a friend’s apartment on higher ground. “Until you are actually in that water, you really don’t know how frightening it is.”

Along the Texas coast, authorities rushed to get the old and infirm out of harm’s way, three weeks after scores of sick and elderly nursing home patients in the New Orleans area drowned in Katrina’s floodwaters or died in the stifling heat while waiting to be rescued.

Nursing home patients taken to safety
In Galveston, the Edgewater Retirement Community, a six-story building near the city’s seawall, began evacuating its more than 200 nursing home patients and retirees by bus and ambulance.

“They either go with a family member or they go with us, but this building is not safe sitting on the seawall with a major hurricane coming,” said David Hastings, executive director. “I have had several say, ‘I don’t want to go,’ and I said, ‘I’m sorry, you’re going.”’

The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston discharged 200 hospital patients healthy enough to go home and evacuated others by helicopter, ambulance and buses. “There are going to be some people who are too sick to evacuate and we are going to keep them here,” said spokeswoman Jennifer Reynolds-Sanchez.

About 80 buses began leaving Galveston at midmorning, bound for shelters 100 miles north in Huntsville. Dozens of people lined up, carrying pillows, bags and coolers, to board one of several yellow school buses in the city of 58,000.

“The real lesson (from Katrina) that I think the citizens learned is that the people in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi did not leave in time,” said Galveston Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas. “We’ve always asked people to leave earlier, but because of Katrina, they are now listening to us and they’re leaving.”

Oil prices up
Crude oil prices rose again on fears that Rita would smash into key oil installations in Texas and the gulf. Hundreds of workers were evacuated from offshore oil rigs. Texas, the heart of U.S. crude production, accounts for 25 percent of the nation’s total oil output.

As Rita swirled away from Florida, thousands of residents who evacuated the Keys began returning to find that the storm had caused little more than minor flooding. Crews worked to restore electricity, store owners pulled the plywood off windows on the main drag, Duval Street, and seaweed and sand were cleared from the streets.

“I’m turning on the A/C and putting a vacancy sign up. We’re really lucky,” said Mona Santiago, owner of the Southernmost Point Guest House, as she swept water off the front porch. “The sun is coming out. We’re getting ready for business.”

Rita is the 17th named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, making this the fourth-busiest season since record-keeping started in 1851. The record is 21 tropical storms in 1933. The hurricane season is not over until Nov. 30.

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indiedan
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From:Santa Monica
Registered: May 2000

posted September 21, 2005 01:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for indiedan   Click Here to Email indiedan     Edit/Delete Message
Katrina's official death toll tops 1,000
Louisiana prepares for Rita, but levees still vulnerable

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (CNN) -- The number of deaths in Louisiana blamed on Hurricane Katrina has risen to 799, the state's Department of Health and Hospitals said Wednesday, bringing the overall death toll to 1,033.

Mississippi reports 219 people killed in the storm, Florida's toll is 11 dead and Alabama and Georgia each report 2 killed.

The new total came as Louisiana prepares for a second hurricane, Rita, which strengthened to a Category 4 storm -- the same level as Katrina when it slammed into the Louisiana-Mississippi border on August 29. (Watch woman who has been forced to move by two hurricanes -- 6:49)

Rita's maximum sustained winds were about 140 mph as of Wednesday afternoon.

While the latest extended forecast predicted Rita would come ashore late Friday or early Saturday near Galveston, Texas, forecasters weren't ruling out a hit on Louisiana. (Full story)

A Category 4 hurricane has winds from 131 mph to 155 mph (210 kph to 248 kph) and storm surges from 13 feet to 18 feet (4.3 meters to 6 meters), according to the Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane intensity.

Even a few inches of rain could prove disastrous to New Orleans' levee system, badly damaged by Katrina.

The levees are not able to withstand "any sizable event," said Lt. Gen. Carl Strock, commander of the Army Corps of Engineers. "We think something on the line of 3 inches over six hours would probably put 2 to 4 feet of water in the lower-lying sections of the city." (Watch video on the levees' condition -- 2:09)

The corps said it has pumped as much floodwater caused by Katrina as possible out of New Orleans. (Full story)

Evacuation orders
To the west, residents of Louisiana's Cameron Parish, which is adjacent to Texas, have been ordered to evacuate by 7 p.m. Wednesday (8 p.m. ET), according to the parish's Office of Emergency Preparedness.

The head of the state emergency preparedness office said Tuesday about 3,000 buses will be available to Louisiana parishes for evacuations.

Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, commander of federal troops in New Orleans, said Wednesday he was ready for Rita.

"I got buses, I got troops, I got doctors, I got helicopters standing by," he said.

"That's what I know, and it's well-organized from that perspective. It still comes up to a person's choice," he said, referring to those who had chosen to ignore mandatory evacuation orders.

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin issued the orders Tuesday and told residents who had no transportation to assemble at the convention center to take buses out of town.

Nagin and other officials emphasized that neither the convention center nor the damaged Superdome would be used as shelters as they were during Katrina.

About 500 buses were standing by to take people out, and contingency plans were being made to use commercial jetliners if necessary, said Coast Guard Vice Adm. Thad Allen, the federal point man for recovery efforts.

Warships to move
To get out of Rita's way, USS Iwo Jima, with 800 Marines aboard, and USS Shreveport, carrying 200 Marines, will set sail from New Orleans toward Florida's Gulf Coast on Wednesday.

Eventually the ships will follow behind Rita and help with recovery efforts after the storm makes landfall.

The ships have been serving as a command center for federal relief efforts for New Orleans.

The U.S. military's Northern Command also was identifying shelters and havens outside of New Orleans it might use to house the thousands of National Guard and active duty troops now engaged in relief efforts.

Brown to testify
Michael Brown, who resigned September 12 as director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, will testify next week as part of a House probe into the government's response to Katrina.

Brown is scheduled to appear before the committee Tuesday and will testify in part about coordination between federal, state and local governments, said Rep. Tom Davis, R-Virginia, who chairs the special House panel heading the probe.

David Paulison, director of FEMA's preparedness division, replaced Brown as interim director.

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HollywoodProducer
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Posts: 2306
From:La Canada
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posted September 21, 2005 05:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for HollywoodProducer   Click Here to Email HollywoodProducer     Edit/Delete Message
Tax Breaks for Katrina May Aid Rich More By MARY DALRYMPLE, Associated Press Writer


House and Senate tax writers agreed Tuesday on a package of tax breaks designed to help Hurricane Katrina victims recoup their losses and access needed cash.

The Congressional Research Service, an office that provides lawmakers with nonpartisan legislative analysis, said some of those tax breaks could do more for higher income survivors than for the neediest.

The tax bill is one avenue lawmakers have pursued in sending relief to hurricane evacuees. Since Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in late August, Congress has approved $62 billion in emergency spending and promised more.

House and Senate lawmakers debated Tuesday whether some costs for cleaning up after Katrina should be defrayed by cutting fat elsewhere in the federal budget.

Lawmakers weighed the idea as President Bush made his fifth visit to the devastated Gulf Coast and received a briefing about Hurricane Rita, which lashed the Florida Keys and caused a flurry of storm preparations through the Gulf Coast to Texas. The Army Corps of Engineers raced to patch New Orleans' damaged levee system ahead of the storm.

Acting Federal Emergency Management Agency Director R. David Paulison told reporters that Rita was expected to reach Category 3 or 4 levels. FEMA had aircraft and buses available to evacuate residents from areas the hurricane might hit.

"I strongly urge Gulf Coast residents to pay attention" to the storm, Paulison said.

House and Senate tax writers, meanwhile, agreed on a tax bill that helps Katrina victims access their savings by waiving penalties imposed for tapping retirement savings accounts before retirement. Other provisions let taxpayers write off more of their destroyed property and erase taxes regularly imposed when a debt, like a mortgage, is forgiven.

The bill, which lawmakers expect to pass quickly, will include a two-year tax credit for businesses hiring people within the disaster area. Those who take in evacuees, other than family members, would be eligible for a $500 personal exemption.

The Congressional Research Service report said some elements of the tax assistance would do more for wealthier taxpayers because many lower income individuals and families pay little tax. Lower income survivors are also less likely to have retirement accounts like 401(k)s and IRAs.

However, the same tax measure includes assistance specifically for lower-income families that would help the working poor hang onto their income tax credits, which can be disrupted by unemployment or family separation.

Lawmakers moved ahead with the tax assistance while debating spending restraints. Senior Republicans, even those supporting tight reins on spending, said it could prove difficult to find budget cuts with the majority support necessary to succeed.

"As many members of the Senate as there are, there's that many different views of how you do offsets," said Senate Budget Committee Chairman Judd Gregg, R-N.H. "That's why it will be hard to do."

One example is the upcoming rollout of the Medicare prescription drug benefit, passed two years ago. Some conservative lawmakers have suggested delaying it to buffer Katrina's effect on the budget.

"It's a nonstarter," said House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas.

White House budget director Joshua Bolten briefed senators on Katrina response efforts. He renewed the office's commitment to a plan by congressional Republicans to curb growth in federal benefit programs like Medicaid by $35 billion.

House Democratic leaders called for an independent panel to oversee the awarding of Katrina contracts for hurricane cleanup, citing a need to ensure taxpayer dollars are doled out fairly.

The House, meanwhile, voted 400-0 to give the Labor Department greater leeway in running a jobs program for people affected by national emergencies.

The bill would expand the National Emergency Grant program, under which the Labor Department has already awarded $191 million to support 40,000 temporary jobs for those displaced by Katrina. The program provides up to six months of job training or work related to assisting victims.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Charles Boustany, R-La., would extend the program to areas outside the immediate disaster area to help people who relocated elsewhere.

The House also approved, by voice vote, legislation to extend for two years a program through which the secretary of education can waive student loan payments for reservists or National Guard members called to active duty.

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fred
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From:Redmond, WA
Registered: Apr 2000

posted September 22, 2005 12:49 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for fred   Click Here to Email fred     Edit/Delete Message
Rita Could Be Strongest Storm to Hit Texas

By PAM EASTON
The Associated Press

GALVESTON, Texas -- Gaining strength with frightening speed, Hurricane Rita swirled toward the Gulf Coast a Category 5, 175-mph monster Wednesday as more than 1.3 million people in Texas and Louisiana were sent packing on orders from authorities who learned a bitter lesson from Katrina.

"It's scary. It's really scary," Shalonda Dunn said as she and her 5- and 9-year-old daughters waited to board a bus arranged by emergency authorities in Galveston. "I'm glad we've got the opportunity to leave. ... You never know what can happen."

With Rita projected to hit Texas by Saturday, Gov. Rick Perry urged residents along the state's entire coast to begin evacuating. And New Orleans braced for the possibility that the storm could swamp the misery-stricken city all over again.

Galveston, low-lying parts of Corpus Christi and Houston, and mostly emptied-out New Orleans were under mandatory evacuation orders as Rita sideswiped the Florida Keys and began drawing energy with terrifying efficiency from the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Forecasters said Rita could be the most intense hurricane on record ever to hit Texas, and easily one of the most powerful ever to plow into the U.S. mainland. Category 5 is the highest on the scale, and only three Category 5 hurricanes are known to have hit the U.S. mainland _ most recently, Andrew, which smashed South Florida in 1992.

The U.S. mainland has never been hit by both a Category 4 and a Category 5 in the same season. Katrina, at one point became a Category 5 storm, weakened slightly to a Category 4 hurricane just before coming ashore.

Government officials eager to show they had learned their lessons from the sluggish response to Katrina sent in hundreds of buses to evacuate the poor, moved out hospital and nursing home patients, dispatched truckloads of water, ice and ready-made meals, and put rescue and medical teams on standby. An Army general in Texas was told to be ready to assume control of a military task force in Rita's wake.

"We hope and pray that Hurricane Rita will not be a devastating storm, but we got to be ready for the worst," President Bush said in Washington.

Early Thursday, Rita was centered about 540 miles east-southeast of Galveston and was moving west near 9 mph. Forecasters predicted it would come ashore along the central Texas coast between Galveston and Corpus Christi. Hurricane-force winds extended up to 70 miles from the center of the storm.

But with its breathtaking size _ tropical storm-force winds extending 370 miles across _ practically the entire western end of the U.S. Gulf Coast was in peril, and even a slight rightward turn could prove devastating to the fractured levees protecting New Orleans.

In the Galveston-Houston-Corpus Christi area, about 1.3 million people were under orders to get out, in addition to 20,000 or more along with the Louisiana coast. Special attention was given to hospitals and nursing homes, three weeks after scores of sick and elderly patients in the New Orleans area drowned in Katrina's floodwaters or died in the stifling heat while waiting to be rescued.

Military personnel in South Texas started moving north, too. Schools, businesses and universities were also shut down. Some sporting events were canceled.

Galveston was a virtual ghost town by mid-afternoon Wednesday. In neighborhoods throughout the island city, the few people left were packing the last of their valuables and getting ready to head north.

Helicopters, ambulances and buses were used to evacuate 200 patients from Galveston's only hospital. And at the Edgewater Retirement Community, a six-story building near the city's seawall, 200 elderly residents were not given a choice.

"They either go with a family member or they go with us, but this building is not safe sitting on the seawall with a major hurricane coming," said David Hastings, executive director. "I have had several say, `I don't want to go,' and I said, `I'm sorry, you're going.'"

Galveston, a city of 58,000 on a coastal island 8 feet above sea level, was the site of one of the deadliest natural disasters in U.S. history: an unnamed hurricane in 1900 that killed between 6,000 and 12,000 people and practically wiped the city off the map.

The last major hurricane to strike the Houston area was Category-3 Alicia in 1983. It flooded downtown Houston, spawned 22 tornadoes and left 21 people dead.

In Houston, the state's largest city and home to the highest concentration of Katrina refugees, the area's geography makes evacuation particularly tricky. While many hurricane-prone cities are right on the coast, Houston is 60 miles inland, so a coastal suburban area of 2 million people must evacuate through a metropolitan area of 4 million people where the freeways are often clogged under the best of circumstances.

Mayor Bill White urged residents to look out for more than themselves.

"There will not be enough government vehicles to go and evacuate everybody in every area," he said. "We need neighbor caring for neighbor."

Houston Police Chief Harold Hurtt issued a stern warning to anyone staying behind that looting would not be tolerated and anyone caught stealing after the storm would be prosecuted.

At the Galveston Community Center, where 1,500 evacuees had been put on school buses to points inland, another lesson from Katrina was put into practice: To overcome the reluctance of people to evacuate without their pets, they were allowed to bring them along in crates.

"It was quite a sight," Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas said. "We were able to put people on with their dog crates, their cat crates, their shopping carts. It went very well."

But Thomas warned late Wednesday that the city was nearly out of buses. She said those left on the island would have to find a way off or face riding out a storm that is "big enough to destroy part of the island, if not a great part of the county."

City Manager Steve LeBlanc said the storm surge could reach 50 feet. Galveston is protected by a seawall that is only 17 feet tall. More than 180 police officers were expected to stay behind to guard the city, along with 117 firefighters.

Rita approached as the death toll from Katrina passed the 1,000 mark _ to 1,036 _ in five Gulf Coast states. The body count in Louisiana alone was put at 799, most found in the receding floodwaters of New Orleans.

The Army Corps of Engineers raced to fortify the city's patched-up levees for fear the additional rain could swamp the walls and flood the city all over again. The Corps said New Orleans' levees can only handle up to 6 inches of rain and a storm surge of 10 to 12 feet.

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin estimated only 400 to 500 people remained in the vulnerable east bank areas of the city. They, too, were ordered to evacuate. But only a few people lined up for the evacuation buses provided. Most of the people still in the city were believed to have their own cars.

"I don't think I can stay for another storm," said Keith Price, a nurse at New Orleans' University Hospital who stayed through Katrina and had to wade to safety through chest-deep water. "Until you are actually in that water, you really don't know how frightening it is."

Rita also forced some Katrina refugees to flee a hurricane for the second time in 3 1/2 weeks. More than 1,000 refugees who had been living in the civic center in Lake Charles, near the Texas state line, were being bused to shelters farther north.

"We all have to go along with the system right now, until things get better," said Ralph Russell of the New Orleans suburb of Harvey. "I just hope it's a once-in-a-lifetime thing."

Crude oil prices rose again on fears that Rita would smash into key oil installations in Texas and the gulf. Hundreds of workers were evacuated from offshore oil rigs. Texas, the heart of U.S. crude production, accounts for 25 percent of the nation's total oil output.

Rita is the 17th named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, making this the fourth-busiest season since record-keeping started in 1851. The record is 21 tropical storms in 1933. The hurricane season ends Nov. 30.

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HollywoodProducer
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posted September 23, 2005 09:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for HollywoodProducer   Click Here to Email HollywoodProducer     Edit/Delete Message
Fuck

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indiedan
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posted September 23, 2005 10:43 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for indiedan   Click Here to Email indiedan     Edit/Delete Message
Quaid Willing To Delay Film in Order To Make It in New Orleans

Dennis Quaid indicated Wednesday that he plans to delay production of his movie Shame on You so that it can be filmed in New Orleans, as originally planned, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported today (Thursday). Appearing at an impromptu news conference with the city's police chief, Eddie Compass, Quaid, who wrote the screenplay and plans to direct the movie, asked Compass, "Can we get in here by Jan. 1? ... If there's any way we can do it here, I want to do it here. This is the place that really needs it." Compass quipped that Quaid could begin by January if he were given a role in the movie. "Get me in there, brother, even if it's as an extra," he remarked. It had previously been reported that production of the movie was likely to move to another Louisiana city in order to take advantage of the state's liberal tax incentives.

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fred
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posted September 27, 2005 09:37 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for fred   Click Here to Email fred     Edit/Delete Message
Brown Blames 'Dysfunctional' Louisiana
AP

WASHINGTON - Former FEMA director Michael Brown aggressively defended his role in responding to Hurricane Katrina on Tuesday and put much of the blame for coordination failures on Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin. "My biggest mistake was not recognizing by Saturday that Louisiana was dysfunctional," two days before the storm hit, Brown told a special congressional panel set up by House Republican leaders to investigate the catastrophe.

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indiedan
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posted October 03, 2005 10:04 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for indiedan   Click Here to Email indiedan     Edit/Delete Message
New Orleans seafood safe to eat again - experts


Fish from Lake Pontchartrain, the source of much of New Orleans' famous seafood, is safe to eat again after Hurricane Katrina, but lay off the oysters, state environmental experts said on Friday.

They said shrimp, crab and fish could be consumed if they were thoroughly cooked, but oyster beds were closed and could stay that way for months.

Full recovery of the beds could take up to two years, said Harry Blanchet of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

Fetid floodwaters that filled 80 percent of New Orleans after Katrina struck on August 29 were pumped into Lake Pontchartrain, but they turned out to be less polluted than feared.

Tests found lots of bacteria from sewage but no dangerous levels of chemical compounds, said Chris Piehler of the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality.

"There is no toxic soup," he said. "We find no evidence to indicate that people should not consume seafood from Lake Pontchartrain, given that they are properly handled."

Jimmy Guidry, a state health officer, said Hurricane Rita, which hit southwestern Louisiana on September 24, helped because its rains diluted toxins in the waters near New Orleans.

"It's definitely a lot safer than we thought it would be," Guidry said.

Officials said Katrina alone had done an estimated $1.1 billion in damage to the state's seafood industry. The impact of Rita was still being studied.

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NEWSFLASH
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posted December 01, 2005 08:47 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for NEWSFLASH   Click Here to Email NEWSFLASH     Edit/Delete Message
Katrina Kills Plans for New Orleans Studio

Hurricane Katrina may have wiped out plans to build a $20-million movie studio near New Orleans, the New Orleans Times-Picayune indicated Tuesday. Plans for the studio, which were announced just weeks before the hurricane hit and days after Louisiana legislators enhanced their already liberal tax incentives for filmmakers, have been shelved, said Bob Papazian, CEO of Sunset-Gower Studios. Papazian, who described the status of the project as somewhere between "slowed down" and "killed," said that although the Algiers area of the city, where the studio was to be built, suffered little damage, the storm has made investors wary. The newspaper noted that when investors recently visited the site, they found that it had been used without permission to store eight-story-tall mountains of storm debris. Owner Barry Kern said that although the debris has now been removed, the investors' visit "left a lot of questions" in their minds about the viability of the project.

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fred
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posted August 30, 2008 08:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for fred   Click Here to Email fred     Edit/Delete Message
Mandatory evacuations to begin Sunday morning in New Orleans

* Story Highlights
* NEW: Mandatory evacuations set to begin 8 a.m. Sunday in New Orleans
* Hurricane watch issued from southeastern Texas to Alabama-Florida border
* Thousands evacuating Gulf Coast on buses, trains, planes
* Gustav's sustained winds reach 150 mph as it roars past Cuba

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (CNN) -- New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin ordered a mandatory evacuation of the city beginning 8 a.m. Sunday but urged residents to consider escaping "the mother of all storms" before then.

"You need to be scared," Nagin said of the Category 4 hurricane tearing along Cuba's western coast. "You need to be concerned, and you need to get your butts moving out of New Orleans right now. This is the storm of the century."

The city's west bank is to evacuate at 8 a.m.

Nagin said the city had evacuated roughly 10,000 people Saturday on buses, trains and planes, in addition to the thousands who left on their own. Buses from collection points would continue running until midnight and resume at 6 a.m. Sunday, he said. VideoWatch CNN's Don Lemon report on evacuations »

"This storm is so powerful and growing more powerful every day," Nagin said. "I'm not sure we've seen anything like this."

At 8 p.m. ET, Gustav's eye was over western Cuba near Los Palacios, about 65 miles (105 kilometers) west-southwest of Havana, with sustained winds near 150 mph.

Hurricanes are ranked 1 to 5 in intensity on the Saffir-Simpson scale. A Category 4 has winds of 131 to 155 mph and can cause extreme damage. VideoWatch a report on the hurricane watch »

"This storm could be as bad as it gets," Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said Saturday afternoon. "We could see flooding even worse than we saw in Hurricane Katrina."

New Orleans joined the growing list of local governments in south Louisiana ordering mandatory evacuations on Saturday and Sunday as Gustav roared past Cuba and into the Gulf of Mexico.iReport: Are you there? Send photos, video

Many parishes also were imposing tough dusk-to-dawn curfews, hoping to assure residents that they could evacuate without fear of their vacant homes being looted.

Jindal did not order mandatory evacuations at a state level, but he urged residents to take the evacuations seriously.

"I wouldn't worry about whether the evacuation in your parish begins at 4 p.m. today or 8 a.m. tomorrow," he said. "When it comes to evacuation, do it sooner rather than later."

Jindal said the state planned to begin "contraflow" procedures, opening both sides of interstates to outgoing traffic only, at 4 a.m. Sunday.

Thousands of people had begun fleeing the coast by the time a hurricane watch was issued Saturday afternoon for southeastern Texas to the Alabama-Florida border.

The watch, which means hurricane conditions are possible within 36 hours, was announced the day after many in the region marked the third anniversary of Katrina's landfall.

In New Orleans, anxiety was high Saturday as residents fled, leaving behind a ghost town of boarded-up homes and empty streets. VideoWatch Nagin urge people to leave »

Hundreds of people lined up for buses and trains to take them out of New Orleans and thousands of other Gulf Coast residents drove inland, clogging major highways.

At the Union Passenger Terminal in downtown New Orleans, people began arriving as early as 5:30 a.m., forming a line that snaked behind the main Amtrak terminal. Humvees circled the crowds of people, many who waited as long as 2½ hours, enduring the heat and relentless sun, unsure of their destination.

New Orleans officials designated 17 sites for people without transportation to board buses to take them to the terminal, where they will be moved to shelters outside New Orleans. However, scores of residents went directly to the terminal, prompting confusion, as did a glitch in the computer system being used to register people. VideoWatch people flee New Orleans in buses »

Jindal suspended registration at the terminal and instructed people to register when they arrive at shelters. By Saturday afternoon, 1,100 to 1,200 people had left the city on those buses, Nagin said.

"I'm not sure where I'm going," Margie Hawkins of New Orleans said. "My last 24 hours have been somewhat worrisome and very, very prayerful, because this is a very serious threat, and it's a lot of people to get to safe ground or be safe where they are."

The city also arranged with Amtrak for more than 7,000 seats to evacuate the elderly by train. About 1,500 people left for Memphis, Tennessee, Nagin said.

There were also crowds at New Orleans' Louis Armstrong International Airport, which the city plans to keep open through 6 p.m. CT Sunday. Both Delta Air Lines and AirTran Airways said they planned to continue flights in and out of New Orleans until the airport is closed. VideoWatch residents prepare to leave the city »

Vehicles jammed Interstate 10 headed west toward Texas. Cars also clogged Interstates 55 and 59 heading north out of eastern Louisiana. Heavy volume was also reported on Interstates 65 and 59 as Mississippi evacuees streamed north.

The hurricane is projected to pass over western Cuba and to move into the southern Gulf of Mexico early Sunday and into the central Gulf by early Monday, according to forecasters. Gustav could make landfall as a Category 3 or 4 on the U.S. Gulf Coast late Monday or Tuesday, the National Hurricane Center said.

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour announced Friday that Hurricane Katrina victims living in government-issued trailers or mobile homes along his state's coast would begin evacuating Saturday.

The storm called up uneasy memories Friday of the deadly 2005 hurricane season, particularly of Katrina. When Katrina hit, more than 1,800 people died in five states, 1,577 of them in Louisiana.

Unlike the situation during Katrina, there will be no "shelter of last resort," the city said. In 2005, the city's Louisiana Superdome housed thousands of New Orleanians who couldn't, or didn't, heed the mandatory evacuation order. VideoWatch FEMA administrator talk about being proactive »

Nagin warned that all but a "skeleton crew" of city workers would be leaving the city and said local authorities could not promise help for those who choose to stay behind.

"This is very, very serious, and we need you to heed this warning," he said. "We really don't have the resources to rescue you after this."

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fred
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posted August 31, 2008 10:26 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for fred   Click Here to Email fred     Edit/Delete Message
'Get your butts out of town.' Scary stuff.

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a
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posted August 31, 2008 02:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for a   Click Here to Email a     Edit/Delete Message
Bush tells Gulf Coast residents to flee 'dangerous' storm
Story Highlights
NEW: First day of GOP convention to be shortened because of storm

Federal computer model says Gustav could cause up to $29.3B in damage

Mayor Nagin reports 'dusk-to-dawn' curfew, warns looters will be punished

Gustav, in southern Gulf, could become Category 4 hurricane, forecasters say

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush warned residents of the Gulf Coast on Sunday that a serious storm was headed their way, echoing the sentiments of New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, who reiterated his demand that city residents evacuate.

Meanwhile, Republican presidential candidate John McCain said most of Monday's activities at the GOP convention in Minnesota will be suspended because of Hurricane Gustav.

The convention is scheduled to go from Monday through Thursday. McCain's campaign manager, Rick Davis, said Monday's session would be limited, running only from 3:00 to 5:30 p.m. central time.

"Owing to the fact that [McCain] has asked us to take our Republican hats off and put our American hats on, tomorrow's program will be business only, and we'll refrain from any political rhetoric that would be traditional in an opening session of a convention," Davis said.

Earlier Sunday, Bush said he would forgo an appearance at the convention on Monday to go to Texas to meet with emergency workers and evacuees.

"This storm is dangerous," Bush warned after a briefing at FEMA headquarters, urging residents to heed calls to evacuate.

The president was scheduled to address delegates in St. Paul, Minnesota, on Monday night. Bush said he would not go to Louisiana because he did not want to impede the work of emergency officials.

Nagin said Sunday that New Orleans will impose a "dusk-to-dawn" curfew and will cease efforts to help people leave the city Sunday afternoon.

The city-wide curfew will continue until the threat of the storm passes, Nagin said, warning that looters would be dealt with harshly.

"Anybody who's caught looting in the city of New Orleans will go directly to Angola [Louisiana State Penitentiary]. You will not have a temporary stay in the city. You go directly to the big house, in general population," he said.

He said that between 14,000 and 15,000 people had left New Orleans on buses and trains the city had provided -- much lower than the initial estimate of 30,000. See a map of oil rigs in Gustav's path »

"We're just not seeing those kind of numbers in terms of people needing city-assisted services," Nagin said. "The 30,000 number may have been high."

The last of the buses carrying people out of New Orleans would leave around 2 or 3 p.m., he said.

As of 2 p.m. ET, the eye of the Category 3 storm was about 270 miles (435 kilometers) southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River, the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, said.

The storm was moving at 17 mph (27 kph) across the central Gulf of Mexico on Sunday, and it is expected to reach the U.S. Gulf Coast on Monday, forecasters said.

The storm had maximum winds of 115 mph, with higher gusts, forecasters said. Gustav could increase to a Category 4 storm, with winds of 131 to 155 mph, forecasters said. Watch residents who are running »

Gustav killed at least 51 people in southwestern Haiti and eight in the neighboring Dominican Republic last week before moving to Cuba. It was in the Caribbean on Friday and intensified just before it hit Cuba.

Maps of Gustav's path shows that it could strike southern Louisiana and other areas battered by Katrina in 2005.

Katrina hit the area as a Category 3, causing severe flooding and killing more than 1,800 people.

A federally supported computer projection says Gustav could cause up to $29.3 billion in property damage when it hits the Gulf Coast.

The software, developed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the National Institute of Building Sciences, also projected Sunday that 4.5 million people will be in the storm's path and 59,953 buildings will be destroyed. The path also ensnares about 170 hospitals and more than 1,100 police and fire stations.

Roadways heading out of Louisiana were clogged with cars Sunday, CNN personnel observed.

But not everyone was leaving. Louisiana resident Nick Dominque, 30, said he would stay to look after his parents who live in the southern part of the state.

Dominque was one of the many iReporters who contacted CNN. He said he had weathered Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

"I have older parents, and living in South Louisiana, they think that they can handle any storm that hits ... " Dominque said.

"I never thought after Rita that I would try to ride out another storm. But here I am again."

Aaron Broussard, president of Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, called for a mandatory evacuation of the area Sunday morning. The evacuation started at noon Sunday, the same time New Orleans officials had scheduled the evacuation of that city. iReport.com: Leaving home? Share your story

State, local and federal officials urged residents across the region to flee. Many of those residents obeyed, moving north by the tens of thousands, according to the Louisiana governor. Watch residents discuss life as evacuees »

Charter flights, paid for with federal funds, carried thousands of evacuees to other Southern cities, including Knoxville, Nashville and Memphis in Tennessee.

The air evacuation was part of a detailed plan developed in response to criticism after Katrina's chaos.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said authorities are responding to Gustav better than they reacted to Katrina three years ago. Watch officials urge residents to heed warnings »

Speaking to reporters outside Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on Sunday, before heading to the Gulf Coast, Chertoff said he has been pleased with the evacuation process, which started full day ahead of when evacuations began for Katrina.

In Mississippi, which was also badly damaged by Katrina, Gov. Haley Barbour said his state would cooperate with Louisiana's "contraflow" plan, so that Louisiana evacuees and those in low-lying coastal areas of Mississippi could flee northward.

Interstate highways were jammed with cars and trucks with Louisiana tags, often pulling FEMA trailers.

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fred
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posted September 01, 2008 11:24 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for fred   Click Here to Email fred     Edit/Delete Message
It's not as bad as expected. CNN is trying to figure out what to do now.

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indiedan
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posted September 12, 2008 11:57 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for indiedan   Click Here to Email indiedan     Edit/Delete Message
37,000 may need to be rescued after Hurricane Ike

* Story Highlights
* NEW: Coast Guard, Air Force sent to rescue 22 people on freighter
* Coast Guard began helicopter rescues for 50 people on Bolivar Peninsula
* Active-duty military has 42 search-and-rescue helicopters on standby

HOUSTON, Texas (CNN) -- Coast Guard and Air Force aircraft were sent Friday afternoon to try to rescue 22 people on board a massive freighter adrift in the Gulf of Mexico, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Coast Guard said.

Petty Officer Jaclyn Young said the five aircraft, including two Air Force Ospreys, were sent to the ship around noon. She said their arrival time would depend on wind and rain.

The decision to rescue the freighter comes after a U.S. military official told CNN that 37,000 people may need to be rescued after Hurricane Ike strikes.

Texas has asked for help, and the active-duty military has 42 search-and-rescue helicopters on standby, the official said.

Coast Guard officials had said earlier they thought the best way to help the 584-foot freighter might be to let the storm push it to shallow water where it can drop anchor.

The freighter had been headed south from Port Arthur, Texas, and is loaded with petroleum coke -- a petroleum byproduct.

The Coast Guard said in a news release it received a distress call around 4 a.m. from the Antalina, a Cypriot-flagged freighter. It said the vessel had "lost main propulsion 90 miles southeast of Galveston" and was unable to steer.

Coast Guard Capt. Bill Diehl said the freighter had been "in the direct line of the path of the storm and lost its engines."

He said the Coast Guard is keeping radio communications with the freighter, and its news release said the Coast Guard is in hourly contact with the crew.

The Coast Guard also worked to airlift people and their pets from their cars and homes on the Bolivar Peninsula, a narrow stretch of land that separates the Gulf of Mexico from Galveston Bay, as the wind and rain from Hurricane Ike slapped the Texas coast.

The guard issued a statement saying "Coast Guard Air Station Houston launched a HH-65C rescue helicopter and crew to airlift and transport approximately 22 to 50 people" who had called authorities for help. iReport.com: Commander briefs Coast Guard crews

There had been warnings for residents to evacuate beforehand, and Chief Petty Officer Michael O'Berry, interviewed by CNN, was asked why they didn't get out in time. VideoWatch Ike begin to spill water into Texas »

He said he thinks the residents "didn't understand, I guess, the strength of the storm. As it came about, they realized it's a lot stronger than they may have anticipated."

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