From Staff Reports



As Hurricane Ike continues to bear down on the Texas coast, TxDOT announced Thursday night that Interstate 45 traffic will not experience a “contra-flow” — the conversion of all lanes to travel in one direction.

Darwin Myers, area engineer for TxDOT, passed that word to the Daily Sun following a meeting of local emergency officials Thursday evening at the county’s emergency operating center. Myers said TxDOT crews would maintain a high presence on the Interstate to assist with traffic flow, and provide courtesy assistance to stranded motorists. Heavy northbound traffic is anticipated to continue through Friday, with residents expected to clog southbound lanes as early as Saturday for a return to the gulf after Ike makes landfall.

Corsicana and Navarro County are still forecast to experience severe weather conditions beginning as early as Friday night with outflow bands from Ike, and more severe weather Saturday and Saturday night, according to Eric Meyers, county emergency operations director.

Rains nearing four to six inches, with isolated higher amounts remain possible, Meyers said, along with winds of 30 to 50 miles per hour. Higher gusts are possible, as are powerful, isolated tornados. The county’s EOC Web site, www.navarrocountyoem.org, posts the latest forecast and radar imagery from the National Weather Service. A flash flood watch for Navarro County was issued Thursday by the weather service.

At least 190 evacuees from the City of La Porte are expected to seek shelter in Navarro County, according to Corsicana Fire Chief Don McMullan.

“Right now, only 190 that we know of, but we have the capacity to handle up to 600,” McMullan said.

Other “special needs” evacuees from nursing homes located along the gulf are also returning to Corsicana, Meyers said. A similar evacuation of the patients during Hurricane Gustav brought nearly 300 nursing home patients to shelters located in the city through an agreement with several churches, the hospital and Navarro College.

Any evacuees not from La Porte will be directed to continue their travels northbound to Mesquite to be assigned a shelter at an evacuee center there. Signs along the Interstate will direct evacuees to the center, located at 15515 Interstate 20 at Lumley Road, McMullan added.

County crews are going to be standing by in case of local damage from winds and rain, as are all off-duty police and sheriff’s deputies.

Residents are advised not to call the emergency number with non-emergencies, though.

“If they have problems with phone, electricity or utilities, call their providers, not 9-1-1 for assistance,” said Capt. Bret Latta, with the Navarro County dispatch office.

Officials also said the 9-1-1 system should not be used for obtaining road or travel information. A 24-hour travel and road condition hotline offered by the state is available by calling 1-800-452-9292.

People who want to volunteer their services to assist with local evacuees should go to the Red Cross office, not Cornerstone Baptist Church, according to coordinator Rick Lamb. The Red Cross will need to run background checks and provide them with some instructions, he said.

Threats of severe weather locally as a result of Hurricane Ike prompted some changes in local sports schedules. Both the Corsicana and Mildred football games have changed kickoff times to 5 p.m. today. The Daily Sun Web site will post any other sports schedule changes as they are received.

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