WASHINGTON, Sept. 13 (UPI) -- U.S. President George Bush Saturday declared 29 Texas counties disaster areas and was preparing to inspect damage cause by Hurricane Ike.
He and U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff were to fly to Texas as soon as weather permitted, the Houston Chronicle reported, with Chertoff expected to arrive sometime Saturday afternoon.
"Obviously this is a huge storm that is causing a lot of damage, not only in Texas, but also in western Louisiana," Bush said Saturday morning. "This storm has yet to pass."
The disaster declaration included Galveston and Houston, the two cities most directly impacted by the hurricane, which was reduced to tropical storm status Saturday afternoon.
The White House also said Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator R. David Paulison had named Sandy Coachman as the coordinating officer for FEMA's recovery operations in Texas. Officials said damage surveys had been scheduled and more Texas counties may be declared disaster zones after fuller assessments are made.