Game Warden Takes Storm Prep Personally as Neighbors Brace for Ike

Tom Harvey, 512-389-4453,

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8 p.m. CDT

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ANAHUAC, Texas — Game Warden John Feist doesn’t call it community policing, but it probably fits the definition. As Hurricane Ike approached the upper Texas coast Friday afternoon, Feist made a 90-mile loop through the middle of Chambers County, checking on friends and neighbors.

Some were planning to stay through the storm. Some were planning on leaving. More than a few were already gone.

"Before this gets too bad, I want to know who is here," Feist said. "If someone needs help getting out, I want to know that, too."

At the Moody Ranch, foreman D.D. Leggett was loading tools into the back of a horse trailer. In another horse trailer, a nervous paint and two sorrel quarter horses were loosely tied to slats.

"We’re going," Leggett said. "I’ll probably go to my dad’s."

After making sure Leggett didn’t need any help and that the ranch’s gate would be locked behind him, Feist said his goodbyes: "Call us if you need anything," he said.

At another spread south of town, Pine Island schoolteacher and rancher Jean Lagow was dropping off a flatbed trailer and rushing across the Farm-to-Market Road to pick up one last piece of plywood.

"I’ve moved five herds of cows and 280 bales of hay today, and I still have to get all the dogs in the house with me," she said.

The lanky game warden pulled on a pair of gloves and helped the woman with her last two tasks.

Feist and four other game wardens are riding-out the storm in Chambers County. Other game wardens are staged with airboats and river boats in Silsbee, north of Beaumont. If needed, they’ll tow boats south in the morning.

Farther west, 26 game wardens with Strike Team One are ready to move in as soon as the storm passes.

How the Chambers County game wardens will be employed Sat. is anyone’s guess, Feist said. They may be sent through High Island to Bolivar Peninsula, or east to Port Arthur.

They may have plenty to do in largely rural Chambers County. Search and rescue, delivery of food, water and ice, and the prevention of looting are all duties familiar to game wardens in the wake of storms.

At the end of the day, as winds built toward tropical storm strength, Feist finally pulled up to his own home just east of Anahuac. The electricity had failed, and the game warden quickly unloaded his freezer and refrigerator into ice chests, grabbed his sleeping bag and several changes of clothes, and reported to the Chambers County Sheriff’s Office to shelter overnight.

"I just picked-up all the dead branches in the yard," he sighed, as he drove away. "Guess I’ll have to do it all over again, next week sometime.

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