Perry issues disaster declaration for state

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Governor Rick Perry declared disasters in 88 Texas counties today to allow officials there to begin preparing for Hurricane Ike.

That's as the storm whistles toward the Gulf of Mexico. Forecasters say it could enter the gulf by tomorrow night.

Perry placed up to 7,500 National Guardsmen and 19 aerial resources on standby. He also urged coastal residents heed warnings from local officials.

The declaration comes a week after a similar declaration last week in advance of Hurricane Gustav.

Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center warned that, after passing into the Gulf of Mexico sometime tomorrow night, Ike could make landfall in the U.S. over the weekend, possibly not far from Corpus Christi.

However, storm paths are hard to predict several days in advance, and forecasters warned the storm could come ashore anywhere from Louisiana to Mexico.

As of 10 p.m. Central time, the Category 1 storm, with 80-mile-per-hour winds, was 140 miles southeast of Havana, Cuba.

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Besides the military forces, the following precautions have been initiated:

- Texas Task Force 1 and Texas Task Force 2 are on standby;

- Dynamic message signs are being used to urge residents along
the coast to fuel up their vehicles;

- Fuel monitors are working to ensure adequate fuel supplies
along potential evacuation routes and monitoring demand increases;

- Texas is coordinating with 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.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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