The latest on preparations at the Texas coast - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

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The latest on preparations at the Texas coast

As evacuees move north, the toll road fees in Harris County and Houston have been waived.

They're hoping that will help traffic to keep moving. In Galveston, they're not opening shelters, trying to get people to leave. So, hundreds of thousands from the coast are scrambling now to fill their tanks and head north.

It's bumper to bumper on Houston highways today.

TX-DOT posted signs urging drivers to keep their tanks full.

While Galveston issued a mandatory evacuation, Houston officials told residents on higher ground to stay put.

"If you're not in a surge zone stay where you are. Be prepared to ride out the storm. Stay off the highways. We've got traffic flowing pretty well, we need to keep it that way so that those that are truly in danger of the surge can get out of town," said Judge Ed Emmett of Harris County.

"I can tell you there are going to be people that are going to be scared because of the heavy winds that will happen. This is not going to be pleasant. This is not going to be pleasant," said Mayor Bill White.

In Galveston, residents boarded up their homes and businesses. As hundreds of thousands hit the highway, gas stations and grocery stores are packed.

Some drivers pulled up to find fuel tanks already tapped-out, and food supplies dwindling.

"My wife called and said she heard some stores were running out of water, so I figured I'd pick some up," said Larry Zoller.

Hurricane Ike has already shown his dangerous strength as he ripped through the Carribean.

Dozens died in Haiti, and more than 300,000 homes are destroyed in Cuba.

Governer Rick Perry held a press conference today. He urged coastal residents to leave before ike makes landfall, and thousands are coming here.

The following east Texas roads have been designated as evacuation routes by TX-DOT.

Highway 69 in Cherokee and Smith Counties.

Highway 259 in Rusk and Gregg Counties.

And in Anderson County, Highway 287.

All of these highways are expected to see heavy traffic, and you are encouraged to avoid these routes if at all possible.

And as we mentioned earlier, events around the area are being rescheduled or cancelled because of Ike, including Festival on the Square.

 Courtney Lane, reporting. clane@kltv.com

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