HOUSTON – Authorities in the Houston area and along the Southeast Texas Gulf Coast ordered hundreds of thousands of people to evacuate Thursday as Hurricane Ike lumbered toward the coast and threatened to grow even stronger.
Traffic was building on roadways leading away from low-lying areas in Galveston County, and officials urged residents to finish storm preparations quickly.
Some gas stations were running out of fuel as residents scurried to leave.
“It’s a big storm. I cannot overemphasize the danger that is facing us,” Gov. Rick Perry said at a news conference. “It’s going to do some substantial damage. It’s going to knock out power. It’s going to cause massive flooding.”
Forecasters issued a hurricane warning for the Texas Gulf Coast from the Louisiana state line to near Corpus Christi.
The warning, which also extended east along much of the Louisiana coast to Morgan City, means hurricane conditions could reach the coast by late Friday with the front edge of the storm before its powerful center hits land over the weekend.
In Houston, gleaming skyscrapers, the nation’s biggest refinery and NASA’s Johnson Space Center lie in areas that could be vulnerable to wind and floodwaters if Ike crashes ashore as a major hurricane.