Office of the Governor Rick Perry

Update on State Efforts in Preparation for Hurricane Gustav

Sunday, August 31, 2008  •  Austin, Texas  •  Press Release

Gov. Rick Perry has ordered additional state resources to support evacuation efforts from the southeast Texas coast and Louisiana prior to the landfall of Hurricane Gustav.  According to the National Weather Service, Gustav is currently a Category 3 hurricane with winds at 120 mph and potentially strengthen before making landfall on the Gulf Coast.  

"I urge Texas residents to heed the warnings from local leaders to keep their families and themselves safe as this hurricane heads toward the Gulf Coast," Governor Perry said.  "Texas has pre-deployed substantial resources and stands ready to respond to either a direct hit or serious flooding as a result of Hurricane Gustav. We will continue to work with our local leaders, federal partners and neighbors in Louisiana throughout this storm." 

Today, Gov. Perry joined President George W. Bush, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Alabama Gov. Bob Riley and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour on a video teleconfercence to discuss preparations for Hurricane Gustav.  

A tropical storm warning and hurricane watch remains in effect from west of Cameron, La., to just east of High Island, Texas.  A tropical storm warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected within the warning area within the next 24 hours.  A hurricane watch means that hurricane conditions are possible within the watch area, generally within 36 hours.

The state of Texas assisted local leaders and emergency responders in successfully evacuating and sheltering nearly 10,000 special-needs Texans from Chambers, Orange and Jefferson counties.   Hardin, Jefferson and Orange counties have issued mandatory evacuations, which include the cities of Beaumont and Port Arthur. 

Following the mandatory evacuation of the city of New Orleans beginning at 8:00 a.m. this morning, Texas state resources began mobilizing aerial resources and personnel to support the evacuation of an estimated 1,000 medical special needs evacuees from Louisiana to Texas.

Currently, 27 buses transporting Louisiana residents who cannot evacuate themselves are en route to shelters in the Dallas/ Fort Worth area.  Texas is also preparing for an estimated 45,000 general population evacuees to Texas from Louisiana.

The Emergency Management Council and State Operations Center are fully activated. The State Operations Center is closely monitoring Tropical Storm Gustav and holding twice daily conference calls with federal, state and local officials, private industry partners, volunteer organizations and the National Weather Service.

To date, Texas has taken the following actions:

Texas Military Forces: Up to 7,500 guardsmen, 15 aerial resources, and six C-130 aircraft have been activated, some of which have begun deploying to transport medical special needs evacuees from New Orleans to Austin today.

Texas Engineering Extension Service: Texas Task Force 1 and Texas Task Force 2 are preparing assets and will be mobilized today to provide search and rescue capabilities as needed.  A team of 40 members of Texas Task Force 1 are deploying to Louisiana today to assist evacuation efforts.

Department of Public Safety: Commercial Vehicle Enforcement troopers have inspected buses that are being used for evacuations.

Texas Department of State Health Services: The agency is providing oxygen tanks at each of the temporary fueling stations in East Texas for evacuees. A respiratory therapist is at each of the stations.  DSHS is providing health-related evacuation suggestions on its website (www.dshs.state.tx.us)

Health and Human Services Commission: The state's 2-1-1 information and referral network has responded to thousands of calls for information about shelter locations and evacuation routes.

Department of Family and Protective Services: The agency has provided information to foster parents in the evacuation areas and activated a hotline, 800-252-5400, where caregivers can report their new locations once they reach a safe area.

Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs:  Hurricane housing resources for communities are on the agency's website (www.tdhca.state.tx.us). TDHCA is reminding all affordable housing rental owners statewide to keep their apartment vacancy information current as they supply information to TDHCA. TDHCA will contact community action agencies in the projected path of the storm and advise them that they may be called upon to serve additional persons based on the events transpiring. 

Texas Department of Criminal Justice: The TDCJ LeBlanc Unit in Beaumont completed the evacuation of 1,100 inmates to units in Huntsville and Livingston.  TDCJ Gist State Jail in Beaumont also completed the evacuation of 2,080 inmates to units in the Palestine and Huntsville areas. 

Texas Department of Agriculture: The agency has identified commodities that are available for distribution, and is coordinating with the Salvation Army and the American Red Cross.

Texas Animal Health Commission: TAHC is coordinating with its member agencies and other animal care agencies to shelter animals.

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality: TCEQ is authorizing fuel waivers as necessary and is prepared to respond to impacts from Hurricane Gustav.  A strike team capable of handling hazardous materials is on standby.  TCEQ is working with local agencies to be prepared to address any environmental impact issues that may result from Gustav.

Texas Public Utility Commission: The Public Utility Commission is prepared to coordinate a significant response into potential affected areas in order to restore power in a timely and effective manner.

Texas Education Agency:  School districts in the interior part of the state are making preparations to open as shelters, if needed.  The TEA webpage, www.tea.state.tx.us/gustav/, is providing school officials with the latest school-related hurricane information.

Texas Department of Information Resources: A DIR Texas Computer Security Incident Response Team remains on standby.

Texas Department of Insurance: TDI continues to monitor Hurricane Gustav and remain in contact with its insurance stakeholder group, the Texas State Disaster Coalition. TDI is also encouraging Texas consumers to prepare for the storm and offering insurance tips (www.tdi.state.tx.us). TDI has contacted the Louisiana Department of Insurance to begin coordinating assistance to Louisiana insurance consumers who may be heading to Texas.

Texas Department of Transportation:  Previously planned lane closures for I-10 in the Houston area have been cancelled through Monday, Sept. 1. All previously planned lane closures in the Houston and Beaumont area are currently suspended.  Major construction on U.S. 59 entering the city of Lufkin from Houston has been suspended.  Dynamic message signs are being used to urge residents along the coast to fuel up their vehicles. TxDOT personnel are also sweeping roadside shoulders and patching pavement along potential evacuation routes.

Fuel Team: The Fuel Team has ensured the availably of fuel in the evacuation areas and potential impact areas of Gustav.  

Volunteer organizations throughout Texas are working with local officials to shelter evacuees from Texas and Louisiana.

Gov. Perry is briefed on Hurricane Gustav preparations by Jack Colley, Chief of the Texas Governor's Division of Emergency Management. Steve McCraw, the Governor's Director of Homeland Security sits to his left.
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