As initial figures from Hurricane Gustav were reported to commissioners Monday, officials warned that the approaching Ike might not be so sparing and urged residents to take warnings seriously.

“Ike doesn’t look very positive,” said Jeff Kelley, emergency management coordinator. “The timeline is going to be short. We’re going to have to make some quick decisions in the next couple of days.”

Hopefully, he said, Ike would be a near miss or better. County Judge Carl Thibodeaux warned that “ … we didn’t have water for Rita, so even if this thing goes to Galveston we’ll still be on the northeast corner; we’ll still have storm surge.”

Some 1300 special needs individuals were evacuated by the county from Gustav, Kelley said. 

Officials counted 1,822 meals served by the county at about $2.65 per person, per day; a big savings, he said, compared to Jefferson County’s reported $10 per person. 

“I want to personally thank Marlene Merritt, the sheriff-elect’s wife,” Thibodeaux said. “She was down there the whole time.” Merritt served meals at First United Methodist Church’s Malloy Center. 

Thibodeaux complained about recent negative news stories in which evacuees in Marshall found the food and accommodations subpar. “They just blasted Marshall, with all of these people up there helping out our people,” he said. “You want to read about the good things that these people did. People are always going to complain if you don’t feed them filet mignon every day.”

In other business, Sheriff Mike White and his jail staff were honored for score perfect tallies in inspections and staying in compliance with Texas Minimum Jail Standards for 10 years. 

White said credit should go to Jail Administrator Ralph Osborne and Assistant Jail Administrator Kristi Williams. He also thanked Operations and Maintenance Director Mark Wimberly for behind the scenes work during inspections.

Adam Munoz Jr., himself a former sheriff and now executive director for the Texas Commission on Jail Standards, told commissioners that jail staffs must pass more than 600 minimum standards.

“It’s rare in Texas to achieve what Orange County has done,” he said. “An inspector looks very long and hard before he passes or approves something.” 

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