Racing against time, crews try to reach those feared stranded in Hurricane Ike’s floodwaters

GALVESTON, Texas (AP) âÄî Rescue crews canvassed neighborhoods inundated by Ike’s storm surge early Sunday morning, racing against time to rescue those who faced a second harrowing night trapped amid flattened houses, strewn debris and downed power lines. One team of paramedics, rescue dogs and structural engineers fanned out under a nearly full moon on a finger of land in Galveston Bay. Authorities hoped to spare thousands of Texans âÄî 140,000 by some estimates âÄî who ignored mandates to flee Hurricane Ike from another night among the destruction. Some had been rescued, but unknown thousands remained stranded. Only four deaths had been blamed on Ike so far âÄî two in Texas and two in Louisiana âÄî and rescuers hoped to keep that tally from rising. But roads blocked by waist-deep water and downed trees kept many rescuers at bay as they struggled through the largest search-and-rescue effort in state history, just a day after the Category 2 storm crashed into Texas with 110 mph winds. Gov. Rick Perry’s office said 940 people had been saved by nightfall Saturday, but that thousands had made distress calls the night before. Another 600 were rescued from Louisiana floods. The storm weakened to a tropical depression early Sunday, but was still packing winds up to 35 mph as it dumped rain over Arkansas and traveled across Missouri. Tornado warning sirens sounded Saturday in parts of Arkansas, and the still-potent storm downed trees and knocked out power to thousands there. Ike was the first major storm to directly hit a major U.S. metropolitan area since Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005.