AUSTIN — Today Gov. Rick Perry recalled the Texas National Guard, Texas Task Force 1 and other emergency personnel and equipment from Louisiana in anticipation of Tropical Storm Rita entering the Gulf of Mexico. Current projections indicate that Rita will continue to strengthen into hurricane force and could threaten the Texas coast by the end of the week.
“With the potential of another major hurricane forming in the Gulf of Mexico and threatening the Texas coast, the time is now to begin mobilizing our resources and implementing our plan to ensure an orderly response before Texas is hit,” Perry said. “For the past three weeks, our emergency personnel have been assisting our neighbors devastated by Hurricane Katrina and over the last year our state has heightened preparations for dealing with a catastrophic storm. While we continue to hope that day never comes, Texas must be ready if it does.”
During the past 24 hours, Perry directed his Division of Emergency Management and Texas Homeland Security Director Steve McCraw to begin contacting Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials, the Louisiana Governors Office and Gen. Charles Rodriguez of the Texas National Guard to expedite the pull-out of Texas emergency forces.
If Rita continues to strengthen and threaten Texas, emergency forces will be redeployed by mid-week to appropriate staging areas near the Texas coast.
In the meantime, state emergency management officials have activated the State Operations Center, where weather situations are monitored continuously and daily conference calls with locally elected officials are held to assess local needs and coordinate state and local responses.
“As the state works with local leaders in implementing emergency response plans, it is important that Texans living along the coast begin making their own personal evacuation arrangements in anticipation of a hurricane making landfall late this week,” Perry said.