The first busloads of evacuees from two coastal counties were en route to Central Texas Wednesday afternoon.
Under the state’s evacuation shelter plan, McLennan County is the designated shelter county for residents of San Patricio County and Bell County is the designated shelter county for residents of Brazoria County.
The Waco-McLennan County Office of Emergency Management set up a reception center Wednesday at the Church of the Open Door at 900 North Loop 340 in Bellmead, where the first bus carrying evacuees is expected to arrive around 4 p.m. Wednesday.
Once needs have been assessed, the evacuees will be directed to shelters in the area.
Evacuees from Brazoria County are expected to arrive at the Bell County Expo Center around 3 p.m. Wednesday.
Ike was still a Category 1 Hurricane early Wednesday afternoon, but the storm was growing in size and strength as it moved slowly over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
It’s expected to make landfall late Friday or early Saturday and could begin to produce severe weather in Central Texas by Saturday evening.
Authorities have lined up nearly 1,000 buses in case they're needed to help move many poor and elderly people who don't have vehicles.
The Department of Public Safety in Corpus Christi says an evacuation lane is open along the shoulder of northbound Interstate 37.
The Dallas-Fort Worth area is prepared to shelter up to 20,000 evacuees, using the Dallas convention center as the main site.