Thousands Rescued in Ike Aftermath

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Nearly 2,000 people have been rescued along the Texas coast as crews continued to search through debris and flooded streets for survivors after Ike.

Weary residents are now in search of the basics, like food, water, and adequate shelter.

By Monday afternon, the death toll from the storm had risen to at leat 32 across nine states.  At least 13 of the deaths were in the Midwest.

Millions of people from Texas to Chicago are still without electrical power.

In Houston, officials are urging residents to stay inside.  A weeklong curfew from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. has already been issued in the city.

"In the interest of safety, we're asking people to not be out in the streets in their vehicles or on foot," Chief Harold Hurtt said.

President Bush Plans Visit

President Bush will visit Texas on Tuesday to assess the area and help with recovery efforts.  He has already declared Texas a disaster area and issued a federal order to get immediate aid into the affected areas.

"This is a tough storm and it's one that's going to require time for people to recover," he said from the White House.

"It's very important for citizens, who I know are anxious to get home, to take your time and listen, take the advice of the local folks," the President said.

Search and Rescue Continues

Rescue crews are working in shifts around the clock to find stranded residents who didn't or couldn't evacuate.

"When you stay behind in the face of a warning, not only do you jeopardize yourself, you put the first responders at risk as well," Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said. "Now we're going to see this play out."

Texas leaders agree and expressed frustration over the situation.

"This is a democracy," said Mark Miner, a spokesman for Texas Governor Rick Perry. "Local officials who can order evacuations put out very strong messages. Gov. Perry put out a very strong warning. But you can't force people to leave their homes. They made a decision to ride out the storm. Our prayers are with them."

Some Victims Have Regretted Decision to Stay Behind

It was a decision that some residents later regretted. Lisa Lee and her family were stranded on the roof of their Bridge City home with their two dogs.

Sheriff's deputies spotted them and drove in as safely as they could. Lee, her husband and 16 year-old brother, William Robinson, had to dive into the eight-foot deep floodwaters and swim to their rescuers. Their dogs paddled along with them.

They were taken to a local Baptist Church turned shelter for storm victims. Robinson told reporters, "It was like a dream," as he and his sister attempted to recover from the ordeal at the church shelter.

Galveston resident Michael Geml has held on through other storms in his bayfront community.  He says Ike convinced him to leave next time a storm approaches.

"I'll never stay again," Geml said. "I don't care what the weatherman says - a Category 1, a Category 2. I thought I was going to die."

Many local officers and rescue workers believe it could take a week to get to everyone who is stranded.

"We will be doing this probably for the next week or more. We hope it doesn't turn into a recovery," said Sheriff's Sgt. Dennis Marlow in Orange County, where more than 300 people had to be rescued from flooded homes. He said that was only "a drop in the bucket" compared with the number still stranded.

Crews had to wait-out half the day on Saturday for winds to die down before they could start searching for many victims trapped in some of the hardest hit areas.

Governor Perry called it "the largest search-and-rescue operation in the history of the state of Texas."  More than 50 helicopters were used in the search along with 1,500 searchers who made up teams from federal, state and local agencies.

One man pulled from danger in the rescue mission was Ronnie Sharp, 65, along with his dog Princess.

"I was getting too many snakes in the house, otherwise I would have stayed," Sharp said. He said he lost everything in the flood but his medicine and some cigarettes.

Sedonia Owens, 75, stayed behind in Galveston with her son, Lindy McKissick, to ward off looters.

The Associated Press reports she was armed with a shotgun watching flood-waters recede from her neighborhood.

"My neighbors told me, 'You got my permission. Anybody who goes into my house, you can shoot them'," Owen said according to the AP.

It Could Have Been Worse

Authorities agree the good news is that so far there have only been a few deaths associated with the storm.

The storm surge didn't get as bad as expected with records showing only 15 feet high waves instead of the estimated 25 to 50 foot waves anticipated.

Meanwhile, as Louisiana struggled to recover from Hurricane Gustav, Ike also left its mark as hundreds of homes flooded and power was knocked out. 

Sources: Associated Press, ABC News One, AccuWeather.com, National Hurricane Center

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