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NOAA/AP
This image from NOAA shows Category 2
Hurricane
Ike in the Gulf of Mexico
Wednesday Sept. 10,
2008.

Houston Evacuates Ahead of Hurricane Ike

September 11, 2008 02:06 PM
by Josh Katz
Tens of thousands of people are evacuating their homes on the Texas coast in preparation for Hurricane Ike, a potential Category 4 storm.
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Hurricane Ike is heading toward Texas and it is expected to make landfall between Houston and Corpus Christi late Friday or early Saturday. Thousands have evacuated to more inland locations.

Authorities ordered tens of thousands of people in low-lying areas of Harris County, where Houston is located, to evacuate. They also issued evacuation orders to residents in other Texas counties. The authorities are trying to minimize the traffic that occurred before Hurricane Rita hit three years earlier by asking “people who don’t live in eight specific zip codes in the low-lying areas and near Galveston Bay to remain at home,” according to the Associated Press.

President George W. Bush issued a state of emergency for Texas
. Gov. Rick Perry has declared a disaster and activated 7,500 National Guard troops, according to The New York Times.

Some forecasters say the storm could gain strength to become a Category 4 hurricane with winds over 130 mph, potentially causing a storm surge of up to 18 feet.

“In Houston, gleaming skyscrapers, the nation’s biggest refinery and NASA’s Johnson Space Center lie in areas that could be vulnerable to wind and floodwaters if Ike crashes ashore as a major hurricane,” the AP reports. One-fourth of the U.S. oil refining industry is located in Texas, comprising 26 refineries; most of them are located near the Gulf Coast.

Hurricane Dolly, a Category 2, hit Texas in July of this year. That storm dumped 16 inches of rain on the coast, caused 210,000 homes and businesses to lose power, and resulted in at least $1.2 billion in damage, The Times writes.

In U.S. News & World Report, Robert Roy Britt explains that Texas has historically been the brunt of a number of devastating hurricanes. Florida is the only state to be directly hit by more hurricanes than Texas. He cites many examples from Texas’s past, including a Category 4 hurricane that hit Galveston and killed between 8,000 and 12,000 people in 1900. Storm surge was the reason for most of the deaths, according to Britt.
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