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Schools Closed As Storm Nears

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Classes for Texas schoolchildren from Port Arthur to Brownsville were cancelled late last week, as Gulf Coast residents braced themselves for Hurricane Gilbert, a mammoth storm that killed at least 29 people during its rampage through the Caribbean Sea.

The storm, which had sustained winds of up to 120 miles per hour, was expected to make its landfall on Sept. 16.

Because emergency efforts were being coordinated at the local level, the number of schools that cancelled classes was unavailable. A spokesman for the state police department's emergency operating center in Austin noted, however, that evacuations were under way in most of the low-lying coastal areas, including Brownsville, Galveston, Jackson County, and Padre and Mustang islands.

Schools in Galveston and neighboring cities were closed on Thursday and Friday, and all residents were being encouraged to evacuate. Henry Boening, the Galveston school district's assistant superintendent for business, said that three of the city's schools were being made available as emergency shelters.

A team of city officials, including the district's superintendent, planned to remain in the city as the storm hit the coast.

Officials said a decision on when to reopen schools would depend on the amount of damage inflicted by the hurricane.--jw

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