September 15, 2008

Ike Blamed for at Least 28 Deaths

Officials blamed at least 28 deaths on Ike, the hurricane that cut a path of destruction across several states before breaking up in the nation's midsection.

It's also likely to be the second most costly storm in U.S. history, with some damage estimates above the $20 billion mark, the Christian Science Monitor reported.

Meanwhile, relief trucks have begun rolling into Texas, bringing ice, water and food, the Monitor reported.

On Galveston Island, search and rescue officials said health conditions were deteriorating and mosquitoes were becoming a serious problem, the Chronicle said. One man with about 1,000 mosquito bites had to be airlifted out.

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff warned of possible "unpleasant surprises" as boat and helicopter rescue crews slogged through the debris fields of Galveston and Crystal Beach.

Galveston City Manager Steve LeBlanc said 15,000-20,000 residents of a population of about 60,000 were on the island Monday, while about 3,000 were trying to evacuate.

Buses have been taking residents to shelters in San Antonio, LeBlanc said, adding that Austin expressed willingness to accept more evacuees.

"The bottom line is that Galveston can't adequately accommodate its population," he said.

"Do not come back to Galveston," Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas warned those who evacuated to escape the storm. "You cannot live here at this time."