Coast Guard Staging At Katy’s Merrell Center
About 300 members of the U.S. Coast Guard are calling Katy’s Merrell Center home, at least until the threat from Hurricane Ike passes.
The Coast Guard has established a temporary base of operations at the Merrell Center. A makeshift dormitory has been set up to allow the service men and women rest so they will be ready to begin rescue operations as soon as the immediate danger of the storm has passed.
Boats and other rescue equipment have been staged in the west parking lot.
Most of the Guardsmen sheltering in Katy are usually stationed in Galveston or Clear Lake, but with those areas under the gun from Ike, they were relocated to a safer location. A skeleton staff remains on duty in Galveston, but they may also need to be evacuated as the storm intensifies.
The Coast Guard has also been in action almost continuously since Ike began lashing the coast earlier today. Petty Officer Patrick Kelley said 72 people and 4 pets had been rescued as of 2 p.m. today.
“Almost all of these (rescues) have been on Bolivar Peninsula, and most were by helicopter,” Kelley said.
Those helicopters have now been grounded because of the weather conditions, but two larger helicopters are flying in from Mobile, Ala., that can operate in winds up to 75-80 mph. As the storm moves ashore, however, even the larger choppers will need to stand down.