13 September 2008 20:54 [Source: ICIS news]
WASHINGTON (ICIS news)--US federal and Texas State emergency response officials said on Saturday they have launched more than 50 helicopters and an unspecified number of ground and water-borne teams into coastal Texas and Louisiana in the wake of Hurricane Ike.
US Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told a ?xml:namespace>
He said additional heavy damage is reported in
Chertoff said that there have been reports “of a few deaths, but we may hear of more in the hours to come”.
He said the principal focus of federal and state authorities now is a wide scale search and rescue operation in the area of
He said the search area is much broader than that which faced emergency crews in the wake of Hurricane Katrina at New Orleans in August 2005.
Chertoff said it was still too early for detailed information on the fate of the extensive refining and petrochemical assets concentrated in the storm-struck areas along the Texas and Louisiana coasts and further inland.
“We’ll need another day for that,” he said. “But the hope is that with the storm surge somewhat less than what had been feared, we will be spared some of the worst damage to infrastructure.”
Chertoff said Hurricane Ike came ashore at a point that put the eye of the storm right up the middle of the Houston Ship Channel - along whose shores scores of chemical plants and other critical facilities are located - but that the storm surge was about 16 feet high rather than the 20-25-foot surge that had been feared.
“The critical challenge now is getting power restored to the area, and we are working with energy companies now to help do that as soon as possible,” Chertoff said.
He said that more than 7,500 US National Guard troops have been mobilized to help with the search and rescue effort. The Red Cross also is prepared to move into the hardest hit areas and can provide emergency meals for up to 500,000 people per day, he said.
Some 2.2m people fled from the
Chertoff said he spoke with President George Bush earlier on Saturday and said the president is following developments in
Chertoff said he will leave later on Saturday for
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