AUSTIN, Texas - Governor Greg Abbott provided an update on the state's response to Hanna.
“The Lone Star State is taking swift action to support the communities in the path of the storm,” said Governor Abbott. “We are closely monitoring the situation and working with local officials to help ensure they have the resources they need to keep Texans safe. I urge Texans in the region to take all necessary precautions and follow the guidance of local officials. I ask our fellow Texans to keep these communities in their prayers.”
The governor issued a disaster declaration for Aransas, Bee, Bexar, Brazoria, Brooks, Calhoun, Cameron, Dimmit, Duval, Fort Bend, Galveston, Goliad, Harris, Hidalgo, Jackson, Jim Hogg, Jim Wells, Kenedy, Kleberg, La Salle, Live Oak, Matagorda, McMullen, Nueces, Refugio, San Patricio, Starr, Victoria, Webb, Wharton, Willacy, and Zapata counties.
The declaration gives the governor the ability to waive statutes or administrative rules that may hinder the response or recovery. Abbott is also requesting an emergency declaration from President Trump and FEMA.
The storm is expected to move through areas of Texas already hard hit by the novel coronavirus.
“The most important thing I could say today, is to issue a reminder to everybody in the state of Texas that just because a hurricane comes to the state does not mean that COVID-19 disappears,” said Abbott.
17 teams from the Texas National Guard will be providing COVID-19 testing in, and sanitizing emergency shelters.
“If we need to open up additional space for people to quarantine we will be using hotel rooms, we don’t want to set up anymore congregate settings than we have to,” said Chief Nim Kidd of the Texas Division of Emergency Management.
The Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio, typically used as a shelter reception hub will be used as a hotel reception hub for Hurricane Hanna. Evacuees that arrive at the sports and concert venue will be given hotel vouchers by the American Red Cross.
“Well, it’s not a busy travel season in San Antonio right now. We talked to the City manager [Saturday] morning, he said they have plenty of rooms.” laughed Kidd.
The coliseum also has space for up to 100 evacuees in need of medical attention. Abbott says another medical shelter in Pharr could serve 40 to 60 people. He added that the “Texas National Guard are providing a hundred medical personnel available to help with those who may be sheltered.”
Abbott and Kidd say PPE is being triaged to areas impacted by the storm, adding that the state is prepared to surge testing in the days and weeks to come.
Texans are urged to follow these flood preparedness and safety tips during severe weather events:
- Know types of flood risk in your area. Visit FEMA’s Flood Map Service Center for information here: https://msc.fema.gov/portal/home
- Sign up for your community’s warning system. The Emergency Alert System (EAS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio also provide emergency alerts.
- Build an emergency supply kit. For more information on how to build a kit, visit: https://www.ready.gov/kit
- Keep important documents in a waterproof container. Create password-protected digital copies.
- Protect your property. Move valuables to higher levels. Declutter drains and gutters. Install check valves. Consider a sump pump with a battery.
- Be extremely cautious of any water on roads or in creeks, streams, storm drains, or other areas – never attempt to cross flowing streams or drive across flooded roadways and always observe road barricades placed for your protection. Remember, Turn Around Don’t Drown.
Hanna was upgraded to a Category 1 hurricane before making landfall at around 5 p.m. on Padre Island about 33 miles south of Corpus Christi.
The National Hurricane Center says the Hanna made landfall about 15 miles north of Port Mansfield with maximum winds of 90 mph. At around 6:15 p.m. (CT), Hanna made its second landfall in eastern Kenedy County about 15 miles north-northwest of Port Mansfield.
FOX 7 Austin meteorologist Chelsea Andrews says that 6"-12" of rain is expected in South Texas and parts of Northern Mexico. Some areas could receive as much as 18" of rain.
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A storm surge of three to five feet is possible along parts of the Texas coasts and other hazards with Hanna include flash flooding, some river flooding, large swells along the coast, and a few spin-up tornadoes.
Hanna formed in the Gulf of Mexico Thursday evening.