Colleges and universities along Texas’ Gulf Coast began emptying out today in anticipation of Hurricane Ike’s arrival by early Saturday, possibly as a Category 3 or 4 storm.
Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi, which bills itself as “The Island University” because of its location on a small coastal island, ordered everyone except essential personnel to leave. International students and some staff members were bused to Texas A&M International University, in Laredo.
Staff members at the university’s art museum, which looks out at Corpus Christi Bay, were scrambling to wrap and elevate valuable paintings. A Gulf research center was planning to move boats to a local mall’s parking garage. Faculty and staff members were sent home to begin securing their houses and then, for many, evacuating inland.
The University of Texas Medical Branch, in Galveston, has not evacuated patients, but officials there said the university would close tomorrow because the area was expected to be hit with tropical-storm winds and a storm surge by early Friday. Dry ice was being delivered to research buildings, and researchers were told to load their freezers in anticipation of power outages.
Del Mar College, a community college in Corpus Christi, also closed on Wednesday.
The University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College have begun piling sandbags around buildings and preparing to board windows, “but right now, we’re just watching the progress of the storm to see where it goes,” said Leticia Fernandez, a spokeswoman for the joint campuses.