Ike Moves Past Houston to Head North

GALVESTON, Texas (AP) - Hurricane Ike remains a Category 2 storm with winds topping 100 miles per hour as the ferocious storm moves past Houston and continues churning north.

Ike battered the coast with driving rain and ferocious wind gusts after coming ashore in Galveston around 2 a.m. this morning. Officials say nearly 3 million people are without power.

Fires were burning untended across Houston and 911 operators were inundated with more than 1,200 calls in the past 24 hours.Thousands of homes and government buildings had flooded, and roads were washed out.

Andrew Barlow, a spokesman for Gov. Rick Perry's office, said emergency responders would, quote, "probably do the largest search and rescue operation that's ever been conducted in the state of Texas."

Firefighters in Galveston responded to about 60 rescue calls before suspending operations late yesterday.

Though 1 million people fled coastal communities near where the storm made landfall, authorities in four counties alone said roughly 140,000 ignored mandatory evacuation orders and stayed behind.

There was some good news: a stranded freighter with 22 men aboard made it through the brunt of the storm safely, and a tugboat was on the way to save them.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)