Texas preps for blast from Hurricane Ike

UNDATED (AP) - Here's the latest on Hurricane Ike as the storm heads for the Galveston area:

-- Governor Rick Perry's office says tropical storm winds have begun, with Ike's landfall expected early tomorrow. Perry's office says the eye of the storm is expected to cross just west of Galveston Bay and the Houston Ship Channel. That could create a storm surge over 16 feet in Galveston Bay, Sabine Lake and Port Arthur.

-- Perry spokeswoman Katherine Cesinger (SESS'-in-jer) says officials are working on an estimate on how many Texans have evacuated with state assistance. As for how many people evacuated on their own -- she says there's no estimate. Nearly 80 shelters have been set up across Texas to accept evacuees, including as far away from the Texas coast as Amarillo. An air evacuation center if set up in El Paso if needed to accept special needs medical evacuees. Buses that were used to evacuate people who needed state assistance are finishing up and being staged in San Antonio, Longview and Dallas to ride out the storm.

Cesinger also says there have been no significant gasoline shortages throughout the evacuation.

-- Texas Task Force One rescue missions included evacuating more than 475 medical special needs patients and some family members by air and ambulances.

Military aircraft were used to move about 70 patients, including ten critical care and ten neonatal patients, from the South East Texas Medical Center in Port Arthur -- which could be swamped.

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


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