HOUSTON - Officers with the Houston Police Department provided mobility and security plans ahead of the events leading up to former President George H.W. Bush’s funeral.
“We are proud of the efforts this week by Houstonians to honor President Bush. The motorcade to Ellington yesterday was really the start of a blessed opportunity for us as a city and a nation to honor a true American hero who was dedicated to the service of others,” said Matt Slinkard, executive assistant chief with the Houston Police Department.
HPD said the U.S. Secret Service is overseeing the entire plan but police, the Texas Department of Safety and the Department of Homeland Security are also helping with the efforts.
According to the office of Emergency Management coordinator for the city of Houston Rick Flanagan, the OEM will be operating on an alert status starting Wednesday afternoon.
The president will lie in repose for public viewing starting Wednesday evening at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church, the place of worship he and Barbara Bush attended for more than 50 years.
Bush's body left the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday and arrived at Ellington Field around 4:30 p.m.
From there, the president’s body was taken to St. Martin's Episcopal Church.
Starting around 6 p.m. on Wednesday, members of the public were given the chance to pay their respects as the president’s body lies in repose at the church, located at 717 Sage Road.
The only way to arrive at the church is to ride a shuttle.
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“We ask everybody to be patient. We expected a lot of people to be out there,” said Andrew Skabowski, with METRO.
The shuttles started running between Second Baptist Church on Woodway Drive and St. Martin's Wednesday evening. Shuttles began loading at 4:45 p.m., and the first bus left around 5:15 p.m.
The last bus for the public viewing at St. Martins' Episcopal Church officially left around 5:20 a.m Thursday.
According to authorities, there was a backup at the church, so lines had to close and the bus had to leave early in order for church officials to have time to prepare for President George H.W. Bush's funeral service at 10 a.m.
METRO said about 20 buses will be available and each bus can hold about 50 people. Bus drivers wore decorative socks in honor of the president.
Roads will be closed in the area and the closures are expected to cause delays. Only residents and business owners will be allowed through the area near the church.
Closures started Wednesday at 11 a.m., Riverway Drive between Sage Road and South Post Oak Lane. Sage Road between Tangle Lane and Woodway Drive and Woodway between Chimney Rock Road and North Post Oak Lane are also closed.
All roads will reopen Thursday around 1 p.m. If possible, officials said, the roads will be reopened sooner.
“Pack your patience and a good attitude and remember: If you’re delayed slightly in one of these areas, remember you have a unique opportunity to pause and reflect on honoring someone who did so much for his fellow man, nation, and I think it’s worthwhile being delayed a little bit to reflect on how we treat one another, so pack your patience,” said Slinkard.
No foot traffic will be allowed at St. Martin's Episcopal Church. Everyone must check in at Second Baptist, where they will be screened. No photography will be allowed while Bush's body lies in repose. No backpacks or weapons will be allowed.
The public viewing at the church will close around 6 a.m. Thursday in preparations for Bush's funeral.
The private funeral will be held at the church starting around 10 a.m.
After the funeral, around 11:30 a.m., Bush's body will leave the church and head to the Union Pacific Railroad Westfield Auto Facility in Spring.
Around 1 p.m. Thursday, Bush’s body will depart via train from Spring, bound for College Station.
Bush's body is expected to arrive in College Station around 3:45 p.m. He will be buried alongside former first lady Barbara Bush and their daughter Robin.
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