Friday, September 12, 2008

Thousands refuse to leave as massive Hurricane Ike approaches Galveston

Kansas City

GALVESTON, Texas | Hurricane Ike, a colossal storm nearly as big as Texas itself, battered the Gulf Coast overnight.

The storm threatened to obliterate waterfront towns and give the skyscrapers, refineries and docks of Houston their worst pounding in a generation.

Although Ike was only a Category 2 storm as it crept close to a likely landfall near Galveston about 1 a.m. today, with winds of 105 mph, it was expected to bring tides as high as 20 feet above normal, prompting warnings in coastal cities as far away as Mississippi. Officials said it could flood as many as 100,000 homes.

Texas officials said several critical oil refining centers would be underwater if a surge of 15-25 feet struck the Galveston Bay area.

Damages could reach $100 billion. Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, warned that the storm could be the worst to hit Texas in 50 years.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said the storm was colossal.

“This is a very large tropical cyclone,” said Dennis Feltgen, a meteorologist and spokesman for the National Hurricane Center in Miami. “It’s affecting the weather over the whole Gulf of Mexico in one form or another.”

In Galveston, there were dire warnings that anyone who remained behind faced “certain death” from the storm’s surge.
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