At a media briefing held at noon at the Tyler Police Department, City of Tyler Mayor Barbara Bass reported that the City of Beaumont ordered a mandatory evacuation at 7 a.m. this morning due to Hurricane Ike. The City of Tyler has activated the emergency management plan in response to the event.
The Tyler Emergency Operations Center has been stood up as of 9:30 a.m. this morning. It will be staffed by City emergency personnel, City management, and liaisons from Smith County, the Texas State Guard, and the North East Public Health District. The Center is responsible for coordinating the response to the emergency situation.
Currently, 12 buses are enroute from Beaumont and self evacuees have already begun to arrive in Tyler. The first three shelters in Tyler have been opened and additional shelters are being mobilized at this time.
The Tyler Reception Center at Faulkner Park has been opened to process evacuees presenting in Tyler. Evacuees who need to stay in a shelter must present at the reception center to be assigned to a shelter. Self-evacuees who will stay in a hotel do NOT need to go to the reception center; they can call 211 for information on area hotels with vacancies. Maps of local hotels will also be available at the Reception Center.
Tyler is the designated location for special needs evacuees from Beaumont, Texas. It is estimated that this number could be as high as 6000 estimated evacuees. During Hurricane Gustav, Tyler received 3,300 evacuees that were housed in shelters and an additional 2,000 self evacuees who stayed in local hotels.
"We are actively preparing for the arrival of evacuees which are expected in the early afternoon," said Mayor Bass. "The timeline for establishing services is extremely compressed and we are working closely with all of our partners - the County, Red Cross, local shelter locations, Public Health District, and the Baptist Children's Family Services (BCFS) - to ensure shelters are available."
Because of the changing path of Hurricane Ike, evacuations that are typically called for at H-72 (Hurricane minus 72 hours) are now being conducted at H-45.
Smith County is inspecting vacant City of Tyler facilities to select a secondary location for the pet shelter. Initially, local kennels will be accessed. Evacuees must bring their pet to Faulkner Park for processing into the pet shelter.
City of Tyler personnel are preparing for the storm by inspecting all major street crossings, bridges and culverts to ensure drains and creeks are clear to prevent flooding. All City crews have been placed on standby in preparation for responding to the storm. Oncor will stage crews in Tyler as needed to be able to quickly respond once the storm hits. Oncor also has 30 tree-trimming crews on their way to Tyler at this time.
"Tyler will likely experience severe weather as a result of the storm," said Fire Chief David Schlottach. "Residents should prepare by fuelling up vehicles, securing outdoor items, and stocking up on emergency supplies such as batteries, food and water."