Gulf Coast Prepares For Hurricane Rita - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News


Gulf Coast Prepares For Hurricane Rita

The waters off the Galveston coast have been relatively calm today. But already, the mayor has called for a voluntary evacuation.

Residents are preparing there and in Houston. People like Mike Reynolds are all too familiar with severe weather. Four years ago, he lost his home in Tropical Storm Allison.

"I wouldn't hesitate for a second," he said. "I'll just be in that truck and we'll be out of here."

Thousands of evacuees from Hurricane Katrina recently arrived in Houston, but they're moving again -- some to Arkansas, some to Tennessee, some to Nebraska.

"Hopefully, I'll survive Rita," Precious Spencer, an evacuee from Louisiana, said. "Then I can get another shirt that says I survived Katrina and Rita."

Houston leaders say they're in "full prep mode" and they're ready for Rita.

"No community in the country is going to be as well prepared as we are if the current tracking chart is at all accurate," Mayor Bill White said.

Governor Rick Perry is encouraging people along the coast to get ready, in case they need to evacuate.

"We've seen the tragic effects of the deadly hurricane in recent weeks, but there's no reason to panic if you're prepared and take an orderly approach to this developing storm," he said. "This morning I issued a disaster declaration for Texas and have asked President Bush to approve the declaration and 100% reimbursement for Texas communities responding."

In communities between Houston and Galveston, schools are closing, as families prepare for the worst.

Buses will begin running tomorrow in Galveston for people who cannot leave on their own. They'll be heading to shelters in Huntsville.

Julie Tam, reporting.


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