With the potential for two hurricanes to impact Texas within days of each other, Gov. Greg Abbott has declared the entire Texas Coast and Bexar County, which will be used for staging of the state’s response and sheltering, as state disaster areas. He is seeking a federal disaster declaration for the same counties.
The counties covered by the governor’s declaration are: Aransas, Bexar, Brazoria, Calhoun, Cameron, Chambers, Galveston, Hardin, Harris, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson, Kennedy, Kleberg, Liberty, Matadorda, Newton, Nueces, Orange, Refugio, San Patricio, Victoria and Willacy.
As of Sunday afternoon, Marco had strengthened into a hurricane. The latest track shows it blowing ashore well east of Texas. On the other hand, Tropical Storm Laura is due to hit the U.S. later in the week and has shifted its path west. It could pose a direct threat to Texas.
Texas Division of Emergency Management Chief Nim Kidd said there remains a lot of uncertainty with the forecasts about these two storms, but the models indicate the possibility of a Category 3 hurricane with the potential for up to 15 inches of rain.
“It is incredibly important for everybody that could be in the path of these storms to constantly heed local warnings about what may be happening in your community, understanding this is very swift moving and there could be rising water happening very quickly,” said Abbott.
San Antonio’s Alamo Regional Command Center has been activated to coordinate the state’s response. More than 800 Texas National Guard Troops are standing by to assist with rescues and evacuations. In addition, the Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Parks and Wildlife and Texas Task Force 1 are engaged and ready to respond. There is shelter space for up to 5,000 evacuees, and two facilities are available to care for any COVID-19 patients forced from their homes.
Abbott said mitigating the spread of COVID-19 remains a top priority throughout the state’s response to these weather events.
“As we continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are fully prepared to respond to the oncoming hurricanes of Marco and Laura,” Abbott said.
Citing continuing improvement in the number of positive tests and COVID-19 hospitalization numbers, the governor said it is essential that Texans continue to wear their masks and practice social distancing.