Saturday, September 24

GOVERNOR PERRY'S NEWS CONFERENCE AT 10:15AM CDT

Governor Rick Perry of Texas is holding a televised press conference presently.

He is indicating that the Galveston-Houston area has been largely spared, although damage assessments have not been completed at this hour. He's still awaiting more detailed information from the Beaumont, Port Arthur, Sabine Pass area in southeastern Texas, which, along with southwestern Louisiana, took the brunt of Rita.

He's asking evacuees from the coastal areas not to begin their return back to the area today and to their residences. That would be premature, he indicated. Fuel inventories have yet to be re-stocked, roadside services may still not be open, and, most importantly, contro-flow lanes will not be used for the reverse exodus to come.

Authorities are working on plans for a "staggered" return back to Galveston-Houston in an effort to avoid the severe gridlock that faced outbound evacuees prior to the storm.

Indeed, the governor encouraged those who remained in southeast Texas to ride out the storm to remain in their homes or shelters today and not to get out on roadways, as such traffic could frustrate emergency responders.

Governor Perry said that 10 Mass Care Strike Units will be providing food, water, and ice to those in need. In addition, 18 Air Operations will be working in 18 affected counties of Texas. Plus, Integrated Ground Support Teams are being moved into impacted areas to also distribute food, water, ice, and medical supplies.

The Houston Astrodome remains the venue for command headquarters.