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Sept. 15, 2008
Ike Update From TPWD: Game Wardens Complete Search and Rescue, Parks/Wildlife/Fisheries Staff Assess Damage
1 p.m. CDT — Update 7
Below is information sent by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to the Governor’s Press Office today. The governor’s office is coordinating official communication about Ike for the State of Texas, including TPWD activities. The following information is provided as a service and convenience for TPWD’s audience. For complete information, see the Texas governor’s web site at http://governor.state.tx.us/, or news media may phone the press office at (512) 463-1826.
Texas Game Wardens/TPWD Law Enforcement Division
- TPWD has had approximately 200 game wardens and associated boats and equipment deployed for Hurricane Ike. Today, while some strike teams complete search and rescue in places like the Bolivar Peninsula, many game warden teams are turning to a law enforcement mission in other affected areas across Southeast Texas and East Texas.
- As part of a multi-agency response coordinated through the governor’s office, game warden teams today are fulfilling local government requests for enforcement and assistance in Angelina County, Jasper County, Grimes County, Brazoria County and other areas.
- Today on the Bolivar Peninsula, 15 game wardens in seven airboats are completing search and rescue and loading airboats with food and water for people who may be still be stranded in flooded peninsula communities. The entire peninsula still under mandatory evacuation order, and TPWD teams are offering to take anyone who wishes to leave to safety.
- Saturday, Capt. Rod Ousley of the Beaumont office and eight game wardens worked in Bridge City and Orange with airboats. By 4 p.m. they had completed more than 50 rescues, plucking people from rooftops and second story windows, bringing them back to National Guard trucks.
- In Galveston, about eight game wardens normally based in that area continue to help patrol and search residential areas, using boats to navigate flooded streets in some cases.
- Dozens of other wardens based out of Region 4 in Houston are likewise continuing to search, rescue and assess damage in the counties and city areas they normally patrol.
Texas State Parks
- This morning, a total of 23 Texas State Parks remain closed due to Ike in Southeast and East Texas, down from 37 closures at the event’s height. For the current list of park closures, see the TPWD Web site ().
- Since the storm event began, 5,315 evacuees have been given shelter at 59 state parks outside of Ike’s path. Evacuees from storm-damaged areas are allowed to tent camp or stay in RVs or campers at no cost in Texas State Parks, and they may stay in cabins or screen shelters at discounted rates. The latest information on parks closed or accepting evacuees is available through the TPWD Web site (). The public can also phone individual state parks to see whether a park is closed or accepting evacuees.
- Hurricane Ike delivered a powerful blow to Texas State Parks. Two coastal parks, Galveston and Sea Rim, sustained catastrophic damage. Structures and facilities at Sea Rim near Port Arthur appear to be a total loss. At Galveston Island, Ike caused heavy beach erosion and swept away the park headquarters building, restrooms, and shelters.
- Seven other state parks and the LaPorte regional office suffered significant damage ranging from downed trees and power lines to storm surge flooding and wind damage to buildings and facilities. These parks include Lake Livingston, Martin Dies, Jr., the San Jacinto Battleground / Battleship Texas, Huntsville, Daingerfield, Martin Creek Lake and Mission Tejas.
- Four state parks sustained moderate damage-Brazos Bend, Sheldon Lake, Village Creek and Caddo Lake. Three parks took only light damage-Goose Island, Mustang Island, Stephen F. Austin, Fanthorp Inn, Washington on the Brazos, Fairfield Lake, Tyler and Atlanta.
- The San Jacinto Battleground was significantly damaged by storm surge flooding and wind, with widespread downed trees and fencing. The park store and Battleship TEXAS restrooms were flooded, the site well house destroyed, among other damage.
- A fire Sunday morning at Mission Tejas severely damaged the approximately 1,000-square foot headquarters building (not a historic structure). Authorities and staff are looking into the cause, but it’s possible an emergency electrical generator caught on fire.
- Wildlife Division staff assisted with search and rescue in Jefferson County at the request of local officials, and other staff are assessing damage to facilities and habitats in affected areas.
- Several Southeast Texas wildlife management areas near the coast where the landscape normally consists of wetlands, marshes and coastal prairies are all or partly underwater today, including the Murphree, Candy Abshier, Lower Neches and Hurst WMAs.
- At Murphree WMA near Port Arthur, the Jefferson County storm levee held back the storm surge, protecting WMA buildings from flooding. The levee can resist a 14 foot crest and staff report the area had 11 feet of seawater surge. One Murphree shop building was severely damaged by high winds, but other facilities are reported in relatively good shape.
- At Hurst WMA near Lake Jackson, the main office and bunkhouse appear to be in relatively good condition, with no apparent damage to equipment. A barn had doors blown off or other damage. One lean-to structure with deer blinds inside was destroyed.
- Northeast Texas WMAs suffered minor structural damage, such as sheet metal blown off of storage sheds at Engeling WMA. Alazan Bayou and Whiteoak Creek WMAs have no power. Flooding in low-lying areas and downed timber are widespread across the region.
- Aerial overflights are taking place today to assess ecological impacts and damage to various TPWD facilities. But longtime division staff member Jim Sutherlin had this to say from the Murphree WMA in Port Arthur: "The Murphree area looks like the Gulf of Mexico. Wildlife impacts to every thing that doesn’t fly will be significant like it was back in the early 1960s with Hurricane Carla. I expect a great reduction in reptiles and amphibians, particularly alligators, but also snakes, frogs, all the things that move on the ground in the coastal plains. We need to assess the full impacts, and that will take some time. It will set plant communities back to very early successional stages, and we’ll see big changes in the landscape when this water comes off, for a couple of decades. That’s something we’ll see as our careers mature, and the young people starting careers in wildlife ecology now will follow it as we followed Carla."
- The Coastal Fisheries Division, which maintains multiple offices, boats, laboratories and fish hatcheries on the coast, appears to have weathered the storm without major damage, except for flooding to rented office space in Port Arthur. The larger TPWD Dickinson office complex is in relatively good condition. Sea Center Texas in Lake Jackson sustained only minor damage.
On the Net:
- TPWD Emergency Information: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/site/emergency/
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