AUSTIN, Texas - As Hurricane Laura heads to the Texas coast, Gov. Greg Abbott has issued an updated state disaster declaration, adding 36 more counties, including Travis County.
Abbott says the additions are due to the threat of severe rain, wind, and flooding stemming from the storm. Hurricane Laura is currently expected to impact the Texas coast and Southeast Texas as early as Wednesday, bringing heavy rainfall, flooding, high winds and storm surge.
Abbott held a press conference earlier Tuesday to discuss how the state is preparing for Hurricane Laura, including setting up evacuee reception centers in San Antonio, Dallas-Fort Worth and Austin with buses provided to transport evacuating Texans. More than 225,000 hotel rooms are also available across the state to provide shelter to evacuees.
Evacuation centers have been set up in the following locations:
- San Antonio: 254 Gembler Road, San Antonio, 78219
- Austin: Circuit of the Americas at 9201 Circuit of the Americas Boulevard, Austin, 78617
- Dallas Fort-Worth: Mesquite Reception Center at 15515 E. IH-20, Mesquite, 75181
- Ellis County: Knights of Columbus Hall at 850 S IH-45, Ennis, 75119
"Hurricane Laura is rapidly intensifying and poses a major threat to communities in Southeast Texas and along the coast," said Abbott in a release. "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."
Hurricane Laura currently sits at Category 1 but is expected to become a Category 3 or 4 storm as it makes landfall over Southeast Texas and Southwest Louisiana late Wednesday or early Thursday, according to the state. Beginning Wednesday, the area will experience tropical-storm-force winds, heavy rain, significant storm surge, possible flash flooding, and rising water levels, with the chances of hurricane-force winds increasing Wednesday evening.
Heavy rainfall will shift into Northeast Texas on Thursday. The state says the primary water threat will be from storm surge and 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, 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.