Authorities in the Houston area and along the southeast Texas Gulf Coast ordered hundreds of thousands to evacuate today as Hurricane Ike lumbered toward the coast and threatened to grow even stronger. Traffic was building on roadways leading away from low-lying areas in Galveston County, and officials urged residents to finish storm preparations quickly. Some gas stations were running out of fuel as residents scurried to leave.
"It's a big storm. I cannot overemphasize the danger that is facing us," Gov. Rick Perry told a news conference. "It's going to do some substantial damage. It's going to cause massive flooding." Ike is expected to become at least a Category 3 storm, with winds upward of 111mph, before it comes ashore, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said. Some forecasts indicate Ike could grow to a Category 4, with winds of at least 131mph. Emergency officials warned it could drive a storm surge as high as 18 feet.