U.S. President George Bush has declared a major disaster exists in the Southern US State of Texas, after Hurricane Ike swept through the region, flooding homes and
businesses and knocking out power to millions in and around Houston --
the nation's fourth-largest city.
The president on Saturday ordered federal aid to help local recovery efforts.
Ike weakened into a tropical storm as it moved further inland to the
north and east. But it left more than four million people without power
from Houston to Galveston on the Texas Gulf (of Mexico) coast. Officials say it may take weeks to completely restore electricity.
At least one death has been attributed to the storm.
A search and rescue operation is underway in the hardest hit areas.
Authorities say they are particularly concerned about the safety of
thousands of people who defied evacuation orders in Galveston and the
surrounding area, where the storm first made landfall.
Large sections of Galveston were left underwater from massive flooding.
Winds of more than 175 kilometers per hour also knocked out power
lines, and spawned fires that officials had to let burn.
Mr. Bush also announced that his administration had extended
environmental waivers on imported gasoline, in order to offset the
disruption of U.S. fuel facilities in the Gulf of Mexico.
Gasoline prices have gone up across the country because of concerns about possible supply shortages.