Galveston To ‘Hunker Down’ As Ike Moves Ashore
At an afternoon press conference, the Galveston mayor and city manager announced an 8 p.m. curfew as the main force of Hurricane Ike moves ashore, and said city emergency personnel will “hunker down” an hour later.
Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas said she has ordered a curfew from 8 p.m. – 5 a.m. for tonight, tomorrow and Sunday. A possible extension of the curfew will then be re-evaluated depending on the damage sustained from the hurricane.
She also said a “shelter of last resort” has been established at Ball High School. The shelter will be open for the duration of the storm and will only provide food, water and restrooms. There will be no volunteers at the shelter to assist evacuees and no cots or bedding is available.
“It’s minimal, but it’s a shelter from the storm,” Thomas said.
She also said that Mayor Pro Tem Danny Webber has relocated to the emergency operations center on the mainland to ensure the city government can continue to operate even if the island is completely cut off from communication. Thomas and City Manager Steve LeBlanc are riding the storm out in the San Luis Hotel on the Galveston Seawall.
LeBlanc said about 150 people have already arrived at, or been taken to, the Ball High School shelter. The city and the Galveston Independent School District also have employees taking temporary shelter at the school.
LeBlanc also said that there have been 12 high water rescues in the city so far today, and there has been at least one house fire on the west end of the island that could not be reached by emergency personnel.
“Obviously, the island is already flooding pretty severely. The west end is getting torn up pretty severely,” LeBlanc said. “And the worst is yet to come.”
Starting at 9 p.m., city emergency personnel will take shelter and will not be able to respond to calls for help.
“We will hunker down at the San Luis (Hotel),” LeBlanc said. “We’re not going to send out staff out in harm’s way.”
LeBlanc also estimated that 40 percent of the city’s population chose not to heed the mandatory evacuation order and are riding out the storm in Galveston.