Cinco Ranch, TX damage
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff says, while Hurricane Ike has truck the coast of Texas and the west coast of Louisiana, an "exceptionally broad storm surge" has affected eastern Louisiana, Mississippi and down the Texas coast.
Chertoff says, as example, there have been "very, very significant surges" in Beaumont and in Cameron Parrish and Lake Charles. However, the impact in Galveston and in the Houston ship channel was not as great as had been anticipated.
Storm surges, he says, reached 16-feet in some areas.
Now that the hurricane has made landfall, Chertoff says sustained winds are down to tropical storm levels. But he says rain will cause flooding in Texas and further into the United States.
"This is still," Chertoff warns, "a dangerous storm."
The primary search and rescue focus, he says, is concentrated in Orange County and Cameron Parrish, Louisiana, Galveston and the eastern part of Harris County.
He says Coast Guard and National Guard assets are being pressed into service.
Other areas that aren't experiencing flooding problems still have their problems, he says, with downed trees and power lines. He is urging people in those areas to be cautious when they venture outside.
"There is a systematic plan to conduct search and rescue ground, water, and air," he says.
Chertoff says more than 2 million people have been evacuated in Texas. About 130,000 more in Louisiana. It's still too early, he says, for them to return home.
The secretary says Pres. Bush has declared 30 counties in Texas major disaster areas.
He says people in Houston are being urged to drink only bottled or boiled water.
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