Deadly Ike Weakens, Victims Face Aftermath

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CBNNews.com - Grim statistics in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike, now downgraded to a tropical storm.

Two people in Louisiana died at the hand of Hurricane Ike according to authorities and likely two other people in Texas.

A 16-year old boy drowned in his house on Bayou Dularge, La., when he fell through wooden pallets used as flooring and floodwters rose according to an investigator with the Terrebonne Parish coroner's office.

Senior Investigator Gary Alford also told the Associated Press that 57-year-old Donald Celestine died from a broken neck after he was knocked down by the hurricane force winds.

Texas authorities are reporting that one woman died her bed after a tree fell on her home and crushed her. Another storm victim, a 19-year-old man, was away by water and wind on a jetty in Corpus Christi. The Coast Guard searched for the young man but did not find him.

Before hitting the U.S. Ike powerful storm system created dangerous conditions which killed dozens of people in the Caribbean.

Ike is now a tropical storm with top winds at about 40 miles-per-hour. It's moving through northeaster Texas into Arkansas. It still carries with it a serious threat of tornadoes and is dropping a lot of rain on the Lone Star state.

Rescue workers combed communities along the Texas gulf for residents who didn't listen to warnings to evacuate. Authorities estimate about 140,000 people stayed home.

They're trying to rescue those who need help getting out of flooded homes which are dark and hot without electricity.

As CBN News reporter John Jessup and crew  traveled through the storm damaged area Saturday they reported that debris is blocking southbound access on Insterste 45. 

About 6 miles from Galveston, FEMA officials are conducting an incident management assessment to determine the best way to get relief efforts to stranded residents.

An option under consideration includes air dropping food, water, and other essential supplies.

Hurricane Ike finally weakened to a Category 1 storm, Saturday morning, but not before leaving a path of flooding and damage along the Gulf.

Click play to view footage of the storm as it approached the Galveston shore in the middle of the night.

Overnight, the storm battered the Texas coast, sending rivers of water through already flooded towns and knocking out power as far as Louisiana. 

Ike is expected to make a turn towards Arkansas later Saturday.

The AccuWeather.com Hurricane Center warns that as Ike's winds continue to churn, the threat of tornadoes also rises.  Twisters oftentimes develop on the east side of a tropical system. 

"The threat area with Ike will be centered on Louisiana and as far north as Missouri this afternoon and into tonight," AccuWeather.com Expert Senior Meteorologist Jim Andrews said.

Saving the Stubborn

Nearly 1 million Texans evacuated after warnings that Ike was on his way, but some thought they could stick the storm out.

"I believe in the man up there, God," 75-year-old William Steally said. "I believe He will take care of me."

In Galveston, rescue crews gathered up more than 300 people who ignored urges by officials to leave the area or face "certain death."

The eye of the hurricane barreled across Galveston around 3:10 a.m. EDT.  Forecasters say it was a "strong" category two hurricane just shy of qualifying as a category three. 

Rescue teams worked through the night trying to get to folks who didn't heed the warnings to evacuate.

"The unfortunate truth is we're going to have to go in ... and put our people in the tough situation to save people who did not choose wisely. We'll probably do the largest search and rescue

operation that's ever been conducted in the state of Texas," said Andrew Barlow, spokesman for Gov. Rick Perry.

Even though they couldn't see much in the dark while making rescue efforts - rescue teams could already tell the damage was extensive from the high winds, rain and flooding.

Ike's Center Gone, Winds Still There

Since Ike was almost the size of Texas itself, the coastal cities were still being pounded through the early morning, Saturday, as the back-side of the storm moved through.

"We don't know what we are going to find. We hope we will find the people who are left here alive and well," Galveston Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas said. "We are keeping our fingers crossed all the people who stayed on Galveston Island managed to survive this."

Forecasters predicted the worst winds would come to areas after the eye of the storm moved through.

Experts believed sky-scrapers in Houston, the nation's fourth largest city, could withstand the high winds but said a lot of windows would shatter at the force of high wind gusts.

'This is a Giant'

Bachir Annane, a scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Hurricane Research Division, described Ike as nothing the state had ever seen before.

"Wind doesn't tell the whole story," Annane said. "It's the size that tells the story, and this is a giant."

The scope of the storms reach is causing power outages across Texas and Louisiana. Power companies are reporting a total of almost three million homes without electricity.

Meanwhile in Louisiana, about 1,800 homes and business were flooded in coastal Cameron Parish. All 2,900 homes in the area may face flooding, Gov. Bobby Jindal said.

Source: The Associated Press, the Houston Chronicle, ABC News One, AccuWeather.com

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