The 40 mile per hour winds and the inch or so of rain Corsicana experienced Saturday could have been worse — but for the matter of a few dozen miles.

The difference in Hurricane Ike’s path — one that took it about 40 miles east of Navarro County — pushed the worst of the effects of Ike into east Texas and Louisiana. Local officials are not disappointed with the outcome.

“It could have been much, much worse,” said Eric Meyers Jr., the county’s emergency management coordinator, as the county’s Emergency Command Center closed down Saturday afternoon. The hours preceding that statement brought together the efforts of hundreds of people in the county, all prepared for the worst, but hoping for the best.

“We missed the worst of the storm by about 40 miles,” Meyers said. The storm’s track did bring more severe weather to neighboring counties to the south and east. But the overall northeast path helped spare Navarro County from winds up to 70 miles per hour and several inches of rain.

“We were very fortunate,” said Donald McMullan, Corsicana’s fire chief and Meyers’ counterpart at the city. McMullan said his department responded to only a handful of Ike-related calls during the storms Saturday afternoon. Three homes reported damage from fallen trees during the height of the winds Saturday. One home had a small electrical fire as a result, one that was quickly extinguished.

County judge H.M. Davenport Jr. had praise for the local officials and volunteers involved in preparations for the storm, and the plans in place in the event the strike had been worse.

“It is the volunteers that make it happen ... we can’t thank them enough,” he said.

While the threat of the storm is long passed, Corsicana will still be feeling the effects of Ike with the evacuees that are still staying at the Red Cross shelter at Cornerstone Baptist Church, nursing home patients relocated from the gulf area now at Westhill Church of Christ and Heritage Oaks, and even some private homes playing host to family displaced by the storm.

The local Red Cross chapter is seeking volunteers to help staff the shelter at Cornerstone. Volunteers must be pre-screened prior to being scheduled to work at the shelter. Those interested in helping should contact the Red Cross office at 701 West Second Avenue for screening. The office may be contacted by telephone at (903) 874-4551.

Officials at the Salvation Army have been providing help with food and clothing for both the Red Cross shelter evacuees and families playing host to relatives from the gulf. Major Charles Anderson, head of the local Salvation Army operation, is asking for donations of large-size clothing for both men and women, and for food items for distribution to evacuee’s families and hotel-bound evacuees. The Salvation Army is located at 212 East First Avenue, (903) 874-7131.

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Bob Belcher may be reached via e-mail at belcher@corsicanadailysun.com

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