’Until the job is done’
Maurel Merette
2008/09/14
On the eve of Hurricane Ike making landfall in south Texas, Bill Shafer is already in the thick of it.

The captain of the Wichita Falls chapter of the Salvation Army is in San Antonio, awaiting the worst of the storm, which was expected to make landfall early this morning.

Shafer is scheduled to travel with a Salvation Army group to Galveston, where forecasters expect Hurricane Ike to cause the most damage.

“Once the people start coming back, they’ll need food, household supplies and cleaning kits. They’ll have to get their houses ready,” said Shafer who is one of several local residents who have been deployed to assist with Hurricane Ike’s aftermath.

While waiting to go into what promises to be a disaster area, Shafer admired the countless buses of evacuees arriving at his location — arriving with concerns over the homes they left and the reports of waves of water going over the 16-foot seawall in Galveston.

“They just don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Shafer.

Trent Anderson, district supervisor of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, said some game wardens have moved into the area.

“We do have a few that are already down, but we are keeping some people,” said Anderson, who wanted to make sure that there would be enough bodies should there be a need for a local response.

“We don’t want to deploy everybody out of here and not be able to respond,” he said.

Texas game wardens have been active throughout the state since last week with Hurricane Gustav, flooding in Lubbock and now Hurricane Ike.

According to a news release from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, more than 200 game wardens deployed for Hurricane Ike in southeast Texas.

For Anderson, preparations have been a waiting game as no one is yet fully certain of where the hurricane will make landfall. Six wardens from our district and all of the others are on standby waiting to see where they are needed, he said.

“We have to wait and see because hurricanes are very unpredictable,” Anderson said.

Businessman Tom Hebert is no meteorologist, but he does know hurricane evacuations.

Herbert, a member of the Texas State Guard, spent a week in Marshall during Hurricane Gustav’s aftermath before returning Friday in preparation for the arrival of Ike to the Texas mainland.

“We assist the emergency management coordinator in running the shelters, assist the Red Cross to make sure that the shelters run smoothly and provide some resemblance of a military presence for the people,” Herbert said.

“It’s one of the things we do; we make a commitment,” said Hebert, who is part of a Texas State Guard unit whose members are spread out in different shelters in the area.

“We’re pretty spread out,” he said. “We’re going to have eight Wichita Falls residents in Marshall, a ranger unit in Tyler that has about four or five who are from Wichita Falls.”

They expect to be out on deployment for about a week, but are prepared to be there longer if necessary, Herbert said.

“Our orders depend on the deployment. Our orders are now for a week, but if the people in our shelter lose everything, they’ll stay for more than a week,” he said. “We’ll stay until the job is done.”