Governor Greg Abbott today held a press conference at the Alternate State Operations Center in Austin where he provided an update on the state’s response to Hurricane Laura. This hurricane is expected to impact the Texas Coast and Southeast Texas as early as Wednesday and bring heavy rainfall, flooding, high winds, and storm surge. The Governor also received a briefing from the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM), which included an update on response and preparedness efforts from state agency directors and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Additionally, the Governor announced that he has added 36 counties to his State Disaster Declaration due to the threat of severe rain, wind, and flooding.
During the press conference, Governor Abbott discussed the threat of high winds as well as life-threatening storm surge where Hurricane Laura makes landfall. The Governor also discussed evacuation efforts throughout the state, and announced that reception centers in San Antonio, Dallas-Fort Worth, and Austin will open later today. The state is providing buses to transport Texans that are evacuating. There are also over 225,000 hotel rooms available across the state to provide shelter to evacuees. A full list of mandatory and voluntary evacuations can be found on the Texas Hurricane Center web page. Governor Abbott urged Texans to take action now to protect themselves and their property.
“Hurricane Laura is rapidly intensifying and poses a major threat to communities in Southeast Texas and along the coast,” said Governor Abbott. “Texans in the path of this storm should waste no time preparing for the impact of Hurricane Laura and take immediate action to keep themselves and their loved ones safe. I urge our Southeast and Coastal communities to heed the guidance of local officials, follow evacuation orders, and remain vigilant as we brace for the impact of Hurricane Laura. The State of Texas will continue to monitor this storm and provide the resources needed to keep Texans safe.”
Hurricane Laura was upgraded from a Tropical Storm earlier today. It is currently a Category 1 hurricane but is expected to gain strength to a Category 3 or 4 hurricane as it makes landfall over Southeast Texas and Southwest Louisiana late Wednesday or early Thursday. Beginning Wednesday, these areas will experience tropical storm force winds, heavy rain, significant storm surge, possible flash flooding, and rising water levels. The chances of hurricane force winds will increase Wednesday evening. Heavy rainfall that begins over Southeast Texas on Wednesday will shift into Northeast Texas on Thursday. The primary water threat will be from storm surge. Texans are urged to remain vigilant and aware as Hurricane Laura continues to head towards Texas.
Additional state resources have been rostered to help respond to Hurricane Laura. TDEM has activated the following resources and personnel:
- Texas A&M Forest Service: Incident management teams, chain saw crews, firefighting strike teams, and water evacuation and rescue teams
- Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service: Urban search and rescue teams and swift water rescue teams, including Texas A&M Task Force 1 and 2
- Texas A&M Agrilife: Agents positioned to support emergency operations centers and disaster finance teams
- Texas Military Department: High profile water rescue vehicles, airplanes and helicopters for evacuation and rescue, shelter management teams, evacuee tracking network teams, 6th Civilian Response Team available for Hazmat response
- Texas Department of Public Safety: Rescue helicopters, command and control airplanes, swift water rescue boat teams, flood response boat teams, dive boat teams, as well as Troopers, agents, and Rangers to assist local Law Enforcement with evacuation and securing evacuated areas
- Texas Parks and Wildlife: Game Wardens, State Park Police, swift water rescue boats, Shallow water evacuation boats, air boats, incident management teams, and a helicopter rescue team
- Texas Department of State Health Services: Emergency Medical Task Force (EMTF) Ambuses, EMTF ambulances, EMTF Medical incident management and support teams
- Texas Department of Transportation: High profile water rescue vehicles, traffic control devices, and flood protection barriers
- Texas Commission on Environmental Quality: Water and waste water monitoring teams and hazmat response teams
The Texas Health and Human Services Commission and the Public Utility Commission are also assisting in response efforts. For more information on the state’s response to Hurricane Laura, as well as resources for those impacted by the storm, visit the Texas Hurricane Center.
Reception Centers for Evacuees:
San Antonio (Opening at 3:00 PM CT today)
254 Gembler Road
San Antonio, TX 78219
Austin (Opening at 4:00 PM today)
Circuit of the Americas
9201 Circuit of the Americas Boulevard
Austin, TX 78617
Dallas-Fort Worth (Opening at 7:00 PM today)
Mesquite Reception Center
15515 E. IH-20
Mesquite, TX 75181
Ellis County (Opening at 7:00 PM today)
Knights of Columbus Hall
850 S IH-45
Ennis, Texas 75119