Oil, Petrochemical Workers Evaucated As Andrew Looms Off Coast With AM-Hurricane Andrew Bjt
HOUSTON (AP) _ Offshore oil rigs were abandoned and petrochemical plants along the upper Texas coast were evacuated Tuesday as Hurricane Andrew continued its trek across the Gulf of Mexico.
Although the deadly storm seemed to take aim at Louisiana’s south-central coast, forecasters also cautioned that Andrew could strike the upper Texas Gulf Coast.
Some schools were closed. In Beaumont, county jail inmates were helping residents board up their homes.
Evacuations were recommended in Orange and Jefferson counties as well as the Bolivar Peninsula on the eastern end of Galveston Bay. There is no provision in Texas for mandatory evacuation.
Jo Moss, spokeswoman for the Texas Division of Emergency Management, said it was too early to know how many people were leaving.
John Davis, a furniture store owner in Port Arthur, was.
″I don’t think people are taking it too seriously, but when you talk about 140 mph winds, there ain’t going to be too much left,″ Davis said as he boarded up his store windows. ″You can take it from me, Andrew is no prince.″
Many of the buildings in Beaumont and Port Arthur were boarded up Tuesday, and downtown areas were deserted.
Hundreds of workers were sent home from Chevron Corp.’s refinery in Port Arthur.
″We’re completely shut down and evacuated except for a very small hurricane duty personnel who will remain at a secure location,″ said Chevron spokeswoman Bonnie Chaikind. The plant employs about 1,487 people.
The Star Enterprise refinery in Port Arthur, with about 1,500 employees, also was closing. The refinery is a joint partnership between Texaco and Saudi Refining Inc.
Shell Oil Co. evacuated 850 employees from rig platforms in the gulf, said spokeswoman Eydie Pengelly. Shell also had curtailed some operations at a plant west of New Orleans.
Some workers who left work went home to pack up their belongings and leave the area entirely.
Ricky Bumbardner said he finished loading barges Monday night for his employer, Scurlock Oil Co. On Tuesday, he was busy getting his family out of Sabine Pass, a tiny coastal town sitting on the edge of the upper Texas coast.
Phillips Petroleum Co. evacuated rigs in the gulf and told 60 workers in Lafayette, La., to leave so ″they could take care of their homes and families,″ said spokesman Jere Smith.