Gov. Perry Visits Communities Impacted By Ike
Electricity Restored to 700,000 Homes and Businesses; EPA Grants Fuel Waiver
Gov. Rick Perry today visited Orange, one of the areas most heavily impacted by Hurricane Ike's landfall, followed by a visit to an Austin shelter to meet with evacuees and local officials. He emphasized that search and rescue (SAR) efforts are ongoing and that the state is working diligently with local officials and private sector partners to fully restore essential services, including power, water and fuel. The governor also urged residents who are currently in shelters to remain there until local officials have deemed it safe to return home.
"Residents who have evacuated, stay where you are," said Gov. Perry. "The worst thing that could happen is for people who are in a safe area where there is food, water and electricity to return to communities that have yet to have essential services restored."
Power companies in areas affected by Hurricane Ike continue to work around the clock to restore electricity. To date, power has been restored to 700,000 customers; however 2.2 million customers remain without power. The Public Utility Commission (PUC) of Texas has launched a feature on its website to allow customers to check power outages by entering their utility provider and zip code at http://www.puc.state.tx.us/files/ike.cfm.
At the governor's request, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for a waiver from Texas Low Emission Diesel standards (TxLED) in an effort to provide adequate diesel fuel supply for the generators, heavy equipment and other diesel-run vehicles needed for Hurricane Ike recovery. The EPA announced today they have granted the waiver.
"EPA's decision to grant this waiver will guarantee an uninterrupted, adequate diesel supply that is needed to ensure timely clean-up and recovery from Hurricane Ike," said Gov. Perry. "I want to especially thank Sen. John Cornyn - his personal call to Administrator Johnson was instrumental in securing the EPA waiver for Texas."
Search and rescue (SAR) efforts are ongoing along the Texas coast. To date, more than 3,300 residents from coastal areas have been rescued. Post-landfall, 1,570 residents were evacuated from Galveston Island to San Antonio, including 85 medical special needs patients and 110 pets. Prior to landfall, a joint Coast Guard-State of Texas SAR mission ensured the safe rescue of 125 people from Bolivar Peninsula. Since landfall, SAR operations helped evacuate 10 people from Bolivar.
As of Monday afternoon, 295 shelters were open throughout the state housing more than 34,000 evacuees; more than 720 truckloads of water and 560 truckloads of ice have been distributed throughout the storm-affected areas.
The State of Texas currently has 49 Points of Distribution (PODs) open. For a listing of the most current POD locations, visit www.governor.state.tx.us/hurricane/recovery/11167. The state will continue to supply resources as needed. There are also several FEMA-operated PODs open throughout the disaster area.
Texas residents who have been displaced by Hurricane Ike who evacuated to another state may call 1-877-541-7905 to reach the Texas 2-1-1 network and obtain information on how and where to apply for food stamp benefits or seek additional assistance.
Texas residents displaced by Hurricane Ike who evacuated to another area of Texas may call 2-1-1 from any Texas landline or Texas cell phone to obtain information on how and where to apply for food stamp benefits or seek additional assistance.
To date, Texas has taken the following actions:
Texas Department of Transportation: TxDOT is actively engaged in recovery and clean up operations along the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Ike. Crews from across the state are working in the affected areas to assess damage and clear debris from the highways. Many roadways in the affected areas are still not safe for travel because of flooding, power outages and debris. TxDOT strongly discourages travel to and within areas affected by Hurricane Ike. TxDOT continues to utilize dynamic message signs across the state to provide valuable information to motorists regarding travel and road conditions.
Department of Public Safety: Search and rescue efforts, security provision, traffic management and damage assessment remain priorities for DPS personnel. At least 1,000 troopers, eight helicopters (each with a Dive Team member) and four airplanes are taking part in post-hurricane activities. DPS personnel have participated in countless rescue efforts. DPS Disaster District operations centers remain activated in Houston, Beaumont, Bryan, Lufkin and Tyler to help coordinate state agency resources in their respective areas.
Texas Workforce Commission: A Disaster Unemployment Assistance press release was sent out this morning and all hurricane-related employment assistance is posted on TWC's hurricane information Web page at www.twc.state.tx.us. TWC is coordinating post-storm activities in affected areas to ensure employment and unemployment services are provided with Local Workforce Development Boards.
Texas Department of Agriculture: Commissioner Todd Staples is asking agricultural producers to sign up on TDA's Hay Hotline to sell or donate animal feed resources to those devastated by Hurricane Ike. Producers in need of livestock resources are also encouraged to call 1-800-TELL-TDA or visit www.tda.state.tx.us/hayhotline. TDA is sending another shipment of food to San Antonio for citizens impacted by the storm. More than 45,000 pounds of meat, potatoes, fruit and vegetables will help feed displaced residents.
Public Utility Commission: PUC has restored electricity to at least 700,000 homes and businesses. Approximately 2.2 million homes and business are still without power. Hurricane Ike caused outages throughout East Texas including Texarkana as it moved through the state.
Texas Department of State Health Services: DSHS is coordinating the deployment of federal Disaster Medical Assistance Teams to assist with hospital emergency room infrastructure and medical shelter support. DSHS also is evaluating medical transportation assets to ensure that local needs are being met. DSHS continues to follow up with area hospitals and dialysis facilities to assess conditions, operations and resource needs. DSHS is assessing the capacity of medical special needs shelters to determine if additional capacity is required.
Health and Human Services Commission: HHSC is working to get food stamp offices re-opened in critical areas. The agency is requesting federal approval to replace benefits for food stamp recipients in disaster areas and to provide emergency assistance to other victims. Texans can call 2-1-1 for the latest information about food stamps and other resources available to victims.
Department of Family and Protective Services: Adult Protective Services is coordinating with local law enforcement and other state officials to ensure that people who are elderly or have disabilities are provided needed assistance.
Texas Department of Insurance: TDI is informing insurers of what will be expected of them in the coming weeks as they respond to consumers (http://www.tdi.state.tx.us/bulletins/cat96. html). TDI staff is planning to visit shelters in Austin, San Antonio and in East Texas to offer displaced consumers assistance with contacting their insurance companies to begin the claims process. TDI is hosting daily conference calls with the Texas State Disaster Coalition to update them with information about the situation in the affected areas. And TDI's Consumer Help Line (800-252-3439) is operating with extended and weekend hours until further notice: Mon through Fri 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sat 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sun 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Department of Information Resources: DIR is working with agencies in the Ike impact areas to address circuit outages. DIR worked through the weekend and continues to work with the City of Houston and several county offices to reestablish routing for internet and web services.
The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs: TDHCA is highlighting hurricane housing resources for displaced persons and storm-affected communities on its website. Staff is assisting the Governor's Division of Emergency Management with preliminary damage assessments in storm-affected communities. The department has awarded emergency funds to several community action agencies in southeast Texas as they serve persons in need of assistance. TDHCA has reminded all affordable housing rental owners statewide to keep their apartment vacancy information current with the agency. TDHCA is also in contact with FEMA, HUD, the Texas Apartment Association, and the Texas Hotel and Lodging Association to keep current databases listing possible apartments and living accommodations. TDHCA has information ready for local communities regarding possible post-disaster housing assistance and will provide any technical assistance necessary to help these communities apply for post-disaster housing funds.
Texas Education Agency: More than three dozen districts remain closed because of water damage or lack of electricity. TEA has posted a frequently asked questions document on its hurricane webpage to provide information to districts that are either closed or are beginning to enroll evacuees: http://www.tea.state.tx.us/.
Texas Commission on Environmental Quality: TCEQ continues to contact public water systems and wastewater treatment plants. The TCEQ will work with the state department of emergency management to prioritize and coordinate assistance to these systems. The TCEQ Strike Team along with Texas Task Force Ike is in Galveston and has set up the Mobile Command Post and Unified Command. The TCEQ will coordinate with other federal and state agencies in identifying and remediating potential environmental hazards.
Texas Residential Construction Commission: TRCC is concerned that there may be a rapid influx of unregistered builders and remodelers from other states or other unscrupulous parties seeking to take advantage of homeowners affected by the hurricane. All residential builders and remodelers in Texas are required to have a Texas address and to be registered with the commission if they work on qualified projects. Homeowners are urged to thoroughly review a builder or remodeler's record with the commission and check references before they sign any work contract or agreement. Registered builders/remodelers should have a commission-issued registration certificate and/or wallet card to verify proof of registration. Cities and local municipalities are required to verify registration before issuing building permits. The commission has an online searchable database available at www.texasrcc.org to verify builder/remodeler registration. The database contains the names, DBAs, cities and registration numbers for all registered builders and remodelers. The commission will also verify builder/remodeler registrations by phone at (877) 651-TRCC or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.