The State Disaster Operations Center has been ramped up since Wednesday in anticipation that Harvey would become a hurricane and slam into Texas.
On Friday, after being briefed by disaster coordinators, the governor warned they were not bracing just for a hurricane but what will follow. "This is going to lead to what was described earlier in our conference call as record flooding at multiple locations,” said Governor Abbott.
Abbott was told that most hospitals on the coastline have completed the evacuation of patients. He was also told there are options for those fleeing the storm. They can stay in state parks for free or in a shelter.
Those managed by state and local authorities only have a capacity of about 41,000.
"It does seem to be a low number, but here is the other part of that, we don’t know how many hotel rooms and other places where people may go, what stats have shown us is people only 10% of the population that’s evacuated actually go to a shelter,” said Chief Nim Kidd with the Texas Division of Emergency Management.
Those who run shelters were also advised by DPS Director Steve McCraw to not to ask anyone about their immigration status. "And that goes not just for those locations, but getting out of those locations, we have these inland checkpoints, if we are having issues in terms of needing to be evacuated form low lying areas, ...in the Rio Grande valley, ...we need to move people, and life is first,” said Director McCraw.
Governor Abbott was told that temporary power and communication equipment will be brought in after the hurricane begins to downgrade. Emergency responders, including National Guard units, will start the search and recovery process once conditions allow for that to begin.
Abbott had this to say when asked if the call to evacuate came too late.
"I think it is important for the local officials who have the authority and responsibility for this to be the ones to make the call, I can be suggestive, of what I would do, is if I was living in the Houston region, as I once did, I would decide to head to areas north of there,” said Governor Abbott.
Officials in Harris County responded by urging people not to heed Abbott’s advice, and to shelter in place.