AUSTIN, Texas — At a press conference Tuesday, Gov. Greg Abbott gave an update on the state's response to Hurricane Laura, saying residents should prepare for a strong storm.
Abbott said Texas needs to be prepared for the possibility that Hurricane Laura could make landfall as a Category 4 hurricane. Abbott said Laura might be similar to past storms such as Hurricane Ike and Hurricane Rita. He did say, however, that Laura was not likely to be a replication of Hurricane Harvey.
Abbott's press conference came on the three-year anniversary of Hurricane Harvey's landfall, coincidentally. Abbott said in the wake of Harvey, Texas was "battered and bruised, but we were not broken."
"The spirit of Texans came together," Abbott said. "With tremendous resiliency, [we] responded to the devastation that was wrecked by Hurricane Harvey."
Abbott said Hurricane Laura is expected to make its impact as a "wind event." He said Laura is slated to be a fast-moving event. According to Abbott, officials expect the storm to be out of Texas in nearly one day.
One of the challenges Laura poses to Texas, according to Abbott, would be water surge. Abbott said water surge may exceed 10 feet in some areas. Another challenge Abbott eluded to was a significant amount of rainfall. Abbott said if anyone lives in the path of Laura, people in those areas are subject to river flooding and flash flooding.
Abbott said tornadoes may also be spawned by the storm. He cautioned people to do whatever they can to protect their lives, pets and property. Abbott said there were only a few more hours after his 1 p.m. press conference to take swift action regarding their own safety and the safety of their property.
Abbott said mandatory evacuations have been issued in Jasper County, Jefferson County, Newton County, Orange County, the City of Galveston and the City of Port Arthur. Voluntary evacuations were issued in Brazoria County, Chambers County, Harris County (ZIP code zones A and B), City of Nassau Bay, City of Seabrook, City of Tiki Island, City of Jamaica Beach and Bolivar Peninsula.
Evacuation centers have opened across Texas to shelter Hurricane Laura evacuees. Here are the locations:
- Austin: the Circuit of the Americas at 9201 Circuit of the Americas Boulevard
- San Antonio: 254 Gembler Road
- Dallas: the Mesquite Reception Center
- Ennis: the Knights of Columbus Hall at 850 S. Interstate 45
Laura was upgraded from a tropical storm to a hurricane Tuesday morning. According to meteorologists, Hurricane Laura is expected to be a Category 3 hurricane before it makes landfall along the Louisiana and Texas coasts. It will make landfall late Wednesday or early Thursday.
The major hurricane will have winds of around 115 mph, capable of devastating damage.
"The waters are warm enough everywhere there to support a major hurricane, Category 3 or even higher," said National Hurricane Center Deputy Director Ed Rappaport. "The waters are very warm where the storm is now and will be for the entire path up until the Gulf Coast."
The City of Austin has an agreement with the City of Galveston to provide shelter during the mandatory evacuation. The City of Austin has confirmed it will take in evacuees from Galveston.
On Sunday, Gov. Abbott declared a State of Disaster for 23 Texas counties ahead of the storms, including the 22 coastal surge counties as designated by the National Weather Service, as well as Bexar County for the purposes of staging and sheltering.
During his press conference, Abbott announced a State of Disaster for 36 more counties: Anderson, Angelina, Bowie, Cass, Cherokee, Dallas, Fort Bend, Franklin, Greg, Grimes, Harrison, Houston, Leon, Madison, Marion, Montgomery, Morris, Nacogdoches, Panola, Polk, Red River, Rusk, Sabine, San Augustine San Jacinto, Shelby, Smith, Titus, Travis, Trinity, Tyler, Upshur, Walker, Waller, Wharton and Wood.
MORE HURRICANE COVERAGE: