Nearly 2,000 Rescued From Ruins of Hurricane Ike
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GALVESTON, Texas — Rescuers said yesterday they had saved nearly 2,000 people from the waterlogged streets and splintered houses left behind by Hurricane Ike. Glass-strewn Houston was placed under a weeklong curfew, and millions of people in the storm’s path remained in the dark.
As the floodwaters began to recede from the first hurricane to make a direct hit on a major American city since Katrina, authorities planned to go door-to-door into the night to reach an untold number of people across the Texas coast who rode out the storm and were still in their homes, many without power or supplies.
Many of those who did make it to safety boarded buses without knowing where they would end up, and without knowing when they could return to what was left of their homes, if anything.
“I don’t know what I’ll be coming back to. I have nothing,” said Arma Eaglin, 52, who was waiting for a bus to a shelter in San Antonio after leaving her home and wading through chest-deep water with nothing but her clothes. “I’m confused. I don’t know what to do.”
The hurricane also battered the heart of the American oil industry: Federal officials said Ike destroyed a number of production platforms, though it was too soon to know how seriously it would affect oil and gas prices.
Ike was downgraded to a tropical depression as it moved into the nation’s midsection and left more harm in its wake. Roads were closed in Kentucky because of high winds. As far north as Chicago, dozens of people in a suburb had to be evacuated by boat. Two million people were without power in Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana.
The death toll from the storm rose to 13. Three were in the hard-hit barrier island city of Galveston, Texas, including one body found in a vehicle submerged in floodwater at the airport. Many deaths, however, were outside of Texas as the storm slogged north.
Ike’s 110 mph winds and battering waves left Galveston without electricity, gas and basic communications — and officials estimated it may not be restored for a month.
“We want our citizens to stay where they are,” a weary Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas said. “Do not come back to Galveston. You cannot live here right now.”
Houston, the nation’s fourth-largest city, was reduced to near-paralysis in some places. Power was on in downtown office towers Sunday afternoon, and Texas Medical Center, the world’s largest medical complex, was unscathed and remained open. Both places have underground power lines.