Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Hurricane Ike Updates: Aerial Photos, Power Outages, Animal Rescue, and More

Gilchrist, Texas on the Bolivar Peninsula after Hurricane Ike (Gilchrist, Texas on the Bolivar Peninsula, photo by Smiley N. Pool for The New York Times)

Hurricane Ike Updates: Aerial Photos, Power Outages, Animal Rescue, and More

ASSESS YOUR HOUSE OR BUSINESS DAMAGE ONLINE: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has created a website where you can go look at recent (within the past day) aerial images of the Texas Gulf Coast most affected by Hurricane Ike, including the Bolivar Peninsula, Galveston, west Galveston Island, and the area around Palacios. You can go directly to the Hurricane Ike Base Map Index Page and click on the appropriate section box on the map (shown below) or, for more instructions, begin at the Hurricane Ike Images Page. Their site states "This imagery was acquired by the NOAA Remote Sensing Division to support NOAA national security and emergency response requirements." Image file size is between 1 MB and 3 MB, and in an effort to acquire imagery in a timely manner, clouds may be present in the imagery.

Hurricane Ike Aerial Image Map Index Image squares include (but are not limited to) the following named places: Bacliff, Caplen, Cedar Lakes East, Christmas Point, Flake, Freeport, Frozen Point, Galveston, High Island, The Jetties, Lake Como, La Porte, League City, Mud Lake, Palacios Point plus south and east, Port Bolivar, San Luis Pass, Sea Isle, Texas City, and Virginia Point.


Utility repair trucks gathered at Gulf Coast after Hurricane Ike (Utility repair trucks at a fairground in Montgomery County, photo by Brad Loper of Dallas Morning News via AP)

POWER RESTORATION -- As of late Monday, power outages are reported as:
**CenterPoint Energy still has 1.56 million people without power in the Houston area -- their main website is here but I could not get their outage update links to work
**Entergy states they have 374,462 customers in areas like The Woodlands and Conroe without power -- go here to read their Hurricane Ike update page
**TNMP (Texas-New Mexico Power) with a total customer base of 115,000 in Texas City, Angleton, Dickinson, etc., report 79,000 still without power -- click here to access their site's outage update by community

Austin Energy on Tuesday has sent approximately a dozen trucks to help restore power on the Gulf Coast, with plans for crews to work 16 hour shifts and stay for a few weeks. In many areas, all of the electrical poles are missing, meaning a complete reconstruction of the entire infrastructure.


"LOOK AND LEAVE" POLICY NOW IN EFFECT FOR GALVESTON: Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas today announced that Galveston residents who want to come back to briefly check on their property will be allowed to do so between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., but must show photo identification at check points. Galveston current has no running water, no sewage, no electricity, no gas, and no hospital.


SCHOOLING FOR EVACUEES: The Texas Education Agency has a hurricane information web site with a list of school closings for parents, as well as operational instructions for school districts. In Austin, parents are requested to enroll their children in school here if they anticipate remaining in town longer than ten days.


DEATH TOLL: As of last night, the U.S. death toll had reached 33, including 7 in Texas, 7 in Indiana, 6 in Louisiana, 4 in Ohio, 3 in Missouri, 2 each in Tennessee and Illinois, and one each in Arkansas and Kentucky. The storm killed more than 80 people in the Caribbean.

Perhaps the first U.S. death attributable to Hurricane Ike is that of Michael Moxley, a 19-year-old man who was walking on a jetty on North Padre Island near Corpus Christi on Friday as Ike began rolling in when a 6-8 foot wave swept him off his feet and out to sea. The Coast Guard search for him was called off Saturday night.


PRICE GOUGING: The Texas Attorney General's office is investigating hundreds of claims of price gouging following Hurricane Ike, primarily for gas and lodging but also for food, water, and generators. To report price gouging, call the emergency Consumer Complaint Hotline between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. at (800) 252-8011.


(Cattle being driven to fresh water on the Bolivar Peninsula, Texas, photo from Texas Parks & Wildlife Department/Associated Press)

ANIMAL RESCUE AND ASSISTANCE: The Humane Society of the United States have land and water teams on the move in Southeast Texas, and going to their website will give you details of what is being done, as well as tell you how you can help. The Houston SPCA has an Animal Rescue line number at 713-861-0161 to report lost or found animals in that area.

In addition to packs of dogs, disturbed snakes, and alligators at large in storm-ravaged areas, the devastated Bolivar Peninsula has an extra problem in the form of a tiger on the loose. One resident, a collector of exotic animals, has been holed up in a local Baptist Church with his lion and rescuers have declined to enter to check on his well-being. The tiger apparently escaped from an exotic pets center in Crystal Beach and is looking for food. Animal experts are on their way to catch the predator.

There are tens of thousands of farm animals, primarily livestock, who are going without food or safe water to drink. Owners of livestock are asked to contact their local emergency management officials, or call the Texas Animal Health Commission at 1-800-550-8242 extension 296.

To assist in the care of farm animals in the stricken region, you may:
**Offer financial donations through the Texas AgriLife Extension Service at their website or by calling 979-845-2604. They are setting up horse and cattle feed donation and distribution sites.
**Contact the Texas Department of Agriculture at their Hay Hotline or call 1-800-Tell-TDA to sell or donate animal feed, hay, or other resources such as feed and water troughs.

ELDERS ABANDONED DURING HURRICANE: Independence Hall, a federally-subsidized housing complex in Houston, is now under investigation because its 292 low-income and disabled elders report they were abandoned by the staff during Hurricane Ike. A state rescue task force is now treating the residents and finding them other shelter.

For more information about what you can do to help, check CNN's Impact Your World website.

Crystal Beach, Texas on the Bolivar Peninsula, before and after Hurricane Ike (Crystal Beach, Texas on the Bolivar Peninsula, before and after Hurricane Ike)