Forward-deployed Game Wardens Assist Elderly Evacuees at Staging Area, Prepare for Ike’s Landfall

Tom Harvey, 512-389-4453,

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9:39 p.m. CDT

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NAVASOTA, Texas — The first of more than 90 elderly evacuees from Baytown, Texas, arrived at the Camp Allen Conference and Retreat Center here this afternoon.

A bus with 22 residents from Swan Manor Assisted Living arrived at about 3:30 p.m. after mandatory evacuations were imposed in portions of Southeast Texas. Greeting them were many of the 26 Texas game wardens comprising Strike Force One. They handed frail men and women down steep bus stairs to walkers and wheelchairs as Camp Allen staff led them to their first-floor hotel rooms.

The game wardens are forward-deployed to Camp Allen, awaiting the landfall of Hurricane Ike. They are prepared to use river boats and air boats to conduct search and rescue and recovery operations in the immediate aftermath of the storm as directed by the State Operations Center in Austin. The wardens in Strike Force One are part of a multi-agency emergency response network coordinated through the Texas governor’s office.

On Thursday afternoon, game warden Maj. Rolly Correa urged the men and women on his team to get rest while they could.

"This is not going to be a drill," he said. "It’s going to happen."

But, before downtime, there were 90 Baytown residents to help to safety.

"When we reserved this place last time, we knew it could be accepting evacuees and we offered to assist the staff however we could," said Correa.

Gloria Clepper, director of operations for Camp Allen, said 70 more residents of St. James House are due to arrive this afternoon. St. James House is owned and operated as a conference center by the Episcopal Diocese of Texas, as is Camp Allen.

"We know we’re in the line of fire this time around," Clepper said, since Camp Allen is in the projected path of Hurricane Ike. "We’ve done everything we can to secure the property, and we’ll just hunker down."

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