GALVESTON, Texas -- Rescuers said Sunday they had saved nearly 2,000 people from the waterlogged streets and splintered houses left behind by Hurricane Ike.
As the floodwaters began to recede from the first hurricane to make a direct hit on a major U.S. city since Katrina, authorities planned to go door-to-door into the night to reach an untold number of people across the Texas coast who rode out the storm.
Many of those who did make it to safety boarded buses without knowing where they would end up, and without knowing when they could return to what was left of their homes, if anything.
''I don't know what I'll be coming back to. I have nothing,'' said Arma Eaglin, 52, who was waiting for a bus to a shelter in San Antonio. ''I'm confused. I don't know what to do.''
Ike was downgraded to a tropical depression as it moved into the nation's midsection.
Two million people were without power in Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana. The death toll from the storm rose to 17.
Three were in the hard-hit barrier island city of Galveston, Texas, including one body found in a vehicle submerged in floodwater at the airport. Many deaths, however, were outside of Texas as the storm slogged north.
Authorities said Sunday afternoon that 1,984 people had been rescued, including 394 by air. In addition to people who were literally plucked to safety, the figure includes people who were met by crews as they waded through floodwaters trying to get to dry ground.
The search-and-rescue effort was the largest in Texas history, including more than 50 helicopters and 1,500 searchers.
Hundreds of people wrapped around a high school in Galveston, some with pets, overstuffed duffel bags and medicine as they waited to board a bus to a shelter.''I have nowhere to go,'' said Ldyyan Jonjocque, 61, waiting for a bus while holding the leashes of her four Australian shepherd dogs. She said she had to leave two dogs behind in her home. She wept as she told of officers rescuing her in a dump truck.