Large electrical generators are being staged to provide power, emergency vehicles are being safely stored on ships and a vessel designed to serve as a floating gas station are all on standby to support rescue and recovery operations in the wake of Hurricane Rita, Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta announced.
"We are doing what needs to be done to support local efforts to rebuild and recover after Hurricane Rita," Secretary Mineta said. "We are prepared to deploy ships and generators to help teams save lives, restore basic services and begin the reconstruction process."
Specifically, the Department of Transportation is taking the following steps as of Friday, September 23, to support the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the states of Texas and Louisiana as Hurricane Rita approaches:
Ports and shipping
Using two Ready Reserve Vessels, the SS Cape Vincent and the SS Cape Victory, docked at the Port of Beaumont to shelter over 70 of the city's emergency vehicles so once the storm passes they can be unloaded and immediately deployed.
Preparing the S.S. Potomac, a pipeline vessel currently at the Port of Orange in Texas, to serve as a floating gas station to provide fuel for emergency and relief operations along the Texas and Louisiana coasts as needed.
Working to arrange delivery of large electrical generators to Mississippi to provide emergency power if needed to resume pipeline operations once Hurricane Rita passes.
Trains and equipment
Discussing the possibility of using railroad locomotives as portable power sources should emergency and rescue crews need temporary electricity and provided the tracks are passable.
Temporarily suspending repair work on I-10 Twin Spans Bridges between Slidell and New Orleans so crews can secure equipment in advance of Hurricane Rita. The contractor will be given an extra day to complete the project for every day work is delayed by weather.
Engineering teams are already on the ground in Texas and Louisiana to support state and local efforts to assess key roads and bridges and to begin planning emergency repairs if needed.
Provided four large civil aircraft to support the evacuation of over 4,250 mostly elderly or sick people from Beaumont by special airlift in anticipation of Hurricane Rita.
Supported the evacuation of over 1,500 people by air from Houston.
Commercial airlines temporarily halting service later Friday at both Houston-Hobby and George Bush Intercontinental until after Hurricane Rita passes.
Providing over 800 buses in response to requests from Texas and Louisiana officials to help to support evacuation efforts.
Trucks and supplies
Delivering thirteen refrigerated trailers, one tanker of diesel fuel, seven trucks of tarps, five trucks of plastic sheeting, six trailers filled with cots, one trailer filled with tents, 62 trailers filled with MREs, one trailer filled with medical cargo and one filled with sleeping bags to FEMA staging areas in Texas. Will also deliver at least two trailer-loads of water per day until further notice.
During the Hurricane Katrina relief effort, the Department sent supplies to staging areas in both Texas and Louisiana. Many of these supplies remain available to support Hurricane Rita relief operations as well.
Secretary Mineta added that more equipment and resources can and will b made available to support evacuation, relief and recovery operations as needed by FEMA, state and local officials.
*Please note that the figures provided reflect a snapshot in what is a quickly evolving story and are all subject to change.