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Sunday, August 22, 1999
4:00 p.m. Update
Click here for closures and road conditions
Click here for the location of shelters in San Antonio
City Officials: It's too late to leave now.
Corpus Christi residents were cautioned against leaving the city after 2 p.m. because the commute to San Antonio could take as long as eight hours, city officials said.
As of 4 p.m., Bret was about 80 miles south-southeast of Corpus Christi, moving to the north-northwest at 8 mph. Maximum winds were near 140 mph, with higher gusts. City officials said the storm is expected to make landfall south of the city at about 4:30 p.m.
A tornado watch is in effect until 2 a.m. Monday for the Coastal Bend.
A mandatory evacuation order is in force for San Patricio County, including the cities of Ingleside and Aransas Pass.
Forecasters are also predicting a storm surge of eight to 12 feet above normal astronomical tides. The storm surge could be higher at the heads of bays, forecasters said. The cities of Rockport and Port Aransas could have water up to six feet deep in places. Aransas Pass will also likely experience flooding officials said.
With traffic slowed to a crawl, heavy rains and wind gusts, evacuees likely would not make it to San Antonio before the storm hits land, said Mayor Loyd Neal.
"If you have not left, look around your neighborhood, give a helping hand to the elderly," said Peter Teahem, a Red Cross disaster relief worker.
As of 3 p.m. Sunday, the Texas Department of Transportation had closed State Highway 361 from Aransas Pass to the ferry landing to Port Aransas, highway department officials said.
Park Road 22 to Padre Island also had been closed. However, cars still were being allowed to travel from the island to the mainland, officials said.
City Manager David Garcia said San Antonio shelters are filling up. Emergency workers have set up a staging area at McCreless Mall, 4100 S. New Braunfels, in San Antonio, he said. There, evacuees will be placed in shelters and given directions.
City officials have cut off water supplies to Padre Island and North Beach, officials said.
Water mains have broken throughout the city, said Corpus Christi city water superintendent Danny Ybarra, including a 20-inch cast iron water main in the Up River Road area where problems have been reported throughout the week.
"Fixing a main like that takes time - time that we don't have," Ybarra said. "Right now all we've done is isolate it, and when the storm blows through, we'll go back and fix it."
Ybarra said the department is getting water storage facilities prepared for Bret's aftermath.
"We have to stabilize (the system) so we can use the water after the storm goes through."
About 325 prisoners were evacuated from a Nueces County Jail early Sunday because the building is not believed to be strong enough to withstand hurricane force winds, said Nueces County Sheriff Larry Olivarez.
At the police dispatch center on the fourth floor of the police station, dispatchers prepared to camp out.
Sleeping bags and pillows were piled beneath a desk, and extra food was brought in.
"We're prepared to stay," said police Capt. Michael McKinney.
Should the electricity go out, the center will be powered by diesel generators, he said. Officials tested the power source Saturday and operated on it for 45 minutes without problems, he said.
The USS Inchon became the evacuation point for more than 700 sailors from the mine countermeasure and coastal mine hunting ships. The ship has provisions for 1,000 sailors for 45 days and has full water tanks for drinking water. At about 4 p.m. Sunday the ship pushed away from the pier at Naval Station Ingleside with about 1,000 sailors on board. During the storm most will remain within the berthing areas on board.
The Inchon originally planned to ride out the storm at sea, but technical problems kept the 600-foot ship in harbor. The smaller mine hunters are moored in a heavy weather mooring system at the base.
"The fact that we didn't leave turned us into the best evacuation area for the sailors on the other ships," said Cmdr. Bruce Watson, acting executive officer on the Inchon. "Because those ships are away from the pier, if anything happened to them the sailors would be going swimming. Once we get the rest of the sailors evacuated to the ship we will turn into an island until this blows over."
Islands virtually empty
Mustang and Padre Islands were virtually emptied by noon Sunday, and police were not allowing motorists back onto the islands, city officials said at a press conference shortly before noon.
The city issued an order prohibiting price gauging. Merchants will be prohibited from taking advantage of the disaster by selling or leasing fuel, food, medicine or other necessities at an excessive price.
If all local radio stations and television stations lose power, San Antonio radio station KXYX will provide radio service to Corpus Christi, said city spokesman Ted Nelson.
Utility crews are on standby in case of disruptions in service, officials said, and debris crews are making plans for cleanup.
Police are making preparations to monitor the streets for looting, officials said.
State of emergency
Corpus Christi city officials declared a state of emergency at 8 a.m. Sunday as Hurricane Bret drew dangerously close to the Coastal Bend.
Emergency officials urged Corpus Christi residents to evacuate the area - advice that thousands took as evidenced by lines at gas stations and heavy traffic headed out of town. Evacuation orders have been given to residents of Padre and Mustang islands.
The university was evacuated by about 9 a.m. Sunday, and all university activities schedule for Monday have been cancelled.
Thousands of Coastal Bend residents headed inland with shelters being set up in San Antonio, Austin and Victoria.
As of 10 a.m., Central Power and Light officials were reporting only minor electrical outages, said Jessica Mahaffey, CPL spokeswoman.
The Corpus Christi Independent School District has closed all schools for Monday, as has the Taft ISD. Del Mar College also will be closed on Monday.
Closings and road conditions:
- Corpus Christi Independent School District will be closed Monday, Aug. 23
- Taft Independent School District will be closed Monday, Aug. 23
- Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi has evacuated students from the campus. All university and South Texas Institute for the Arts activities are cancelled for Monday, Aug. 23
- Robstown Independent School District will closed until further notice 774-7302 (Jesse Rojas)
- The Texas A&M University-Kingsville campus has been evacuated and closed. All offices will be closed Monday, Aug. 23.
- Del Mar College has canceled convocation for Monday, Aug. 23 and both campuses will be closed until further notice.
- City of Alice facilities and offices will be closed until further notice.
Shelters in San Antonio that are taking in evacuees from the Coastal Bend:
- Texas Department of Transportation reports that there are no roads in the Corpus Christi district at this time.
- Traffic moving out of Corpus Christi on State Highway 358 to Interstate Highway 37 is very slow.
- Northbound traffic on Interstate Highway 37 is reportedly moving steadily at about 40 mph
- U.S. Highway 281 is reportedly moving at a normal rate
- U.S. Highway 181 north from Portland to Sinton is moving very slowly. The Department of Public Safety is routing traffic to one lane, in some areas. Highway 181 at State Highway 123 is reportedly congested, with traffic moving slowly.
- Traffic moving on U.S. Highway 77 in the Kingsville area is reportedly moving at 50-55 mph. Traffic on Highway 77 in the Refugio area is moving very slowly.
- State Highway 35 in Aransas County is open with traffic moving steadily.
- Traffic is moving north on State Highway 186 in the Bayside area is steady with no water reported on the roads at this time.
- Trinity Baptist Church, 319 East Mulberry, at Highway 281 and Mulberry. Capacity 400.
- William Hobby Middle School, 11843 Vance Jackson, at Vance Jackson and Huebner. Capacity 250.
- Roosevelt High School, 511 Walzem Road, at 410 and Walzem. Capacity 300.
- Alamo Heights High School, 6900 Broadway, at Broadway and East Castano. Capacity 350.
- Neff Middle School 5227 Evers Road. Capcity 325.
- Holmes High School, 6500 Ingram Road. Capacity 300.
- Jay High School, 7611 Marbach Road. Capacity 250.
- Marshall High School, 8000 Lobo Lane. Capacity 400.
- Lanier High School, 1514 West Durango. Capacity 600.
- Judson High School, Grey Campus, 9695 Schaefer Road. Capacity 350.
- Burbank High School, 1002 Edwards, special needs shelter.
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