AUSTIN, Texas - Sandbags started going up Tuesday along the Southeast Texas coastline, especially in Galveston and Port Arthur, where the first mandatory evacuation orders were issued.
While some residents waited, others didn't have to be asked twice.
"We have to do what we have to do, we have to leave we have to obey the authorities in order to save ourselves and others too,” a coastal resident said
With many coastal residents heading north, Gov. Greg Abbott was briefed in Austin Tuesday afternoon about resources heading into the storm's path.
"it’s anticipated to be a Category 3 hurricane, we need to be prepared for the possibility that it could increase to be a Category 4 hurricane,” said the Governor.
The big threat from the storm, according to the Governor, will be high winds. Damage could happen all the way to Texarkana. The deployment of rescue units includes a special chainsaw strike team assembled to address down power lines.
The Governor’s Office says 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, airboats, 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 wastewater monitoring teams and hazmat response teams
The state says the Texas Health and Human Services Commission and the Public Utility Commission are also assisting in response efforts.
Gas shortages happened when Hurricane Harvey approached Texas three years ago. On Tuesday the governor said steps have already been made to address the kind of panic buying that disrupted the supply chain.
"We've been surging gas supplies to the regions, knowing several things, one in the challenge in the way to the response to Hurricane Harvey, but also if you remember, there was not that much of an evacuation during Hurricane Harvey, there is more evacuation going on now, I think than there was in Hurricane Harvey, and we wanted to make sure people who were evacuating would have access to the gasoline they need,” said Abbott.
Hurricane Laura was also compared to the double hit by Hurricanes Ike and Rita a little more than a decade ago. Storm surge back then overran and crushed the Bolivar Peninsula and swamped the Strand in old town Galveston. The water that’s expected to be pushed inland by Laura may not get that high, but authorities made it clear they are not underestimating what could happen.
"Our goal is a safe, predictable, and well run evacuation,” said Chief Nim Kidd with the Texas Division of Emergency Management.
Several COVID-19 protocols are in place, according to Kidd, including testing, and not just for first responders. Tests will be made available to those who are evacuated after the storm passes.