Ark. Guard Told to Prepare for Hurricane Ike

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Arkansas National Guard soldiers who manned Fort Chaffee as it took in Hurricane Gustav evacuees have been told to prepare for more fleeing Hurricane Ike as it churns toward the Gulf Coast.

National Guard Captain Chris Heathscott says the 250 soldiers at Fort Chaffee helped the remaining evacuees board buses Sunday to head to the Fort Smith Regional Airport, where three chartered flights took them home to Louisiana. Those soldiers, on orders to be at base until September 15, will clean, restock linens, ready-to-eat meals and toiletries and keep an eye on the approaching storm.

Heathscott says the Guard has been told to be "prepared for the possibility of bringing in another 4,000" people. About 2,300 sought refuge at the old army post in west Arkansas as Gustav approached. Heathscott says another 44 Guard soldiers and airmen who traveled to Louisiana to handle air space control in the wake of Gustav will remain there through Ike.

Crews from Entergy Arkansas, the state's largest electricity supplier, say they've restored power to nearly all those affect by Gustav. This afternoon, the company said a little more than 200 customers remained without power, with most in Hot Springs.

Forecasts show Ike crossing Cuba and skirting Key West by Tuesday on a trek to the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The storm likely will strengthen to perhaps Category 3 storm on its way to a landfall late in the week somewhere between the Florida Panhandle and the Texas coast.

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