GALVESTON, Texas (KTRK) — Storm preparation in Galveston is already underway this weekend as residents and local officials prepare for potential severe weather that could impact the region early next week.
Friday’s beautiful weather set the scene for locals to go outside to stock up on supplies or damage-proof their houses. The water at the beach was calm, and there was not much wind. A green flag was flying, which meant it was safe to swim.
With two storms potentially threatening the southeast coast of Texas, the City of Galveston participated in twice daily calls with the National Weather Service. On Saturday, it went to three times a day as officials tracked developments.
To help prepare the public, Galveston County Judge Mark Henry held a press conference on Saturday about Tropical Storm Laura and Tropical Storm Marco.
“(Officials) anticipate, in the next two to four hours, they are going to shift Marco’s track to the east, meaning it could possibly bypass Texas altogether,” Henry said.
He also said they are not anticipating evacuations for any areas, except potentially Bolivar Island or above Bolivar Peninsula. Judge Henry said Marco’s path shifting east is cutting them a break, while they wait for a better projection of its path.
If evacuation is necessary, Henry said buses will be available, and 15 people will be on each bus because of social distancing. He also said displaced citizens would be taken to Austin for a couple days.
His evacuation plan has been more difficult to put together because of the COVID-19 pandemic, however.
“The challenge has been our evacuation plan,” he said. “I think we have a little more confidence now. My concern was buses. We anticipated 45 people to a bus. Now, we have to anticipate 15 people to a bus. I was just briefed by one of our emergency staff that the state will send us over 100 buses. So even with 15, that’s 1,500 people. We’ve never evacuated that many before so I feel better about that.”
Henry also added they have a contract with Clear Creek ISD for more buses if need be.
He encouraged residents to have their hurricane plans and kits ready, both of which may look a little different because of the pandemic.
“Your plan might have involved going and staying with relatives. Our relatives may be more apprehensive than in previous years, so make sure the plan is still workable,” Henry said. “And make sure the kit includes PPE.”
Henry said they have all the support they need right now. Their contract with Austin allows them to send evacuees for a couple of days, but he said he hopes they don’t need it.
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