Brownsville officials call for voluntary evacuations

Staff Report

The Associated Press

GALVESTON, Texas (AP) - Voluntary evacuations are under way in South Texas as the region prepares for a possible brush next week with Hurricane Dean.

Governor Rick Perry's office said city officials in Brownsville called for the voluntary evacuations of its more than 170,000 residents starting Saturday.

A little further north, the Texas Youth Commission began evacuating nearly 270 inmates and staff members from its facility in Edinburg. They're on buses headed to Brownwood, about 400 miles north.

Dean is currently a Category 4 hurricane. The storm ravaged the Caribbean islands Saturday and was expected to roll across the Yucatan Peninsula and into the Gulf of Mexico by Tuesday.

President Bush has signed a pre-landfall emergency disaster declaration for Texas, which allows federal equipment and supplies to be moved in now.

Perry has already activated more than 4,700 military personnel, and he says up to 10,000 could be mobilized if the hurricane strikes Texas.

Also on standby are:

-- Nearly 50 utility and cargo military helicopters, 
-- 250 special boat crews, and
-- More than 1,000 buses and drivers in San Antonio that are ready to transport special needs evacuees..