HOUSTON - Hurricane Ike, a colossal storm nearly as big as Texas itself, began battering the coast Friday, threatening to obliterate waterfront towns and give the skyscrapers, refineries and docks of the nation's fourth-largest city their worst pounding in a generation.
But even as towering waves started crashing over the 17-foot Galveston seawall and floodwaters rose in low-lying areas, it became clear that many of the 1 million coastal residents who had been ordered to get out refused to so and were taking their chances.
Authorities in three counties alone said roughly 90,000 stayed behind, despite a warning from forecasters that many of those in one- or two-story homes faced "certain death."
"I believe in the man up there, God," said William Steally, a 75-year-old retiree who planned to ride out the storm in Galveston without his wife or sister-in-law. "I believe he will take care of me."
Daniel Brown, a forecaster at the National Hurricane Center, said Ike was about 600 miles across, roughly the distance between Houston and Panama City, Fla. "It takes up almost the northern Gulf," he told CBS News.
As it zeroed in on the coast, it trapped 60 people who had to be rescued from the floodwaters near Galveston by helicopter, breached levees in rural Louisiana, and tossed around a disabled 584-foot cargo ship in the Gulf.
Before sunset Friday, power had been knocked out to 70,000 customers along the coast, including 15,000 in Galvaston. That number that was expected to climb quickly throughout the night, according to Centerpoint Energy, the primary electricity provider for the region.