AUSTIN (KXAN) — Gov. Greg Abbott has declared a state of disaster for 23 Texas counties ahead of Tropical Storm Marco, which is expected to hit near the Texas Gulf Coast Monday night. The storm was classified as a hurricane Sunday afternoon but downgraded early Monday morning to a tropical storm.
These counties include all 22 coastal surge counties as identified by the National Weather Service, in addition to Bexar County — which Abbott says is included for staging and sheltering.
The counties included in the disaster declaration are:
- San Patricio
In addition to the state disaster declaration, Abbott is requesting Pres. Donald Trump declare federal emergency in these counties as well.
‘This will help the state meet critical emergency requirements, including evacuation and sheltering,” Abbott said.
The Governor said as the storms progress, there may be additional needs to expand the counties included in the disaster declaration.
Throughout any evacuation efforts, mitigating the spread of COVID-19 is a top priority, the Governor said.
“As we continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are fully prepared to respond to the oncoming hurricanes of Marco and Laura,” Abbott said.
Abbott explained that the Texas Division of Emergency Management has activated The Alamo Regional Command Center and has ordered 100 buses to arrive at the center on Sunday. Additionally, Texas DPS, Parks and Wildlife and Texas Task Force 1 will all be on hand to assist, Abbott said.
The TDEM, Abbott said, has also activated fuel and hygiene services, based on need during previous hurricanes, like Hurricane Harvey. This is in addition to the activation of resources to shelter at least 5,000 evacuees.
The Texas Department of Health and Human Services, meanwhile, has activated 50 ambulances and has identified two facilities — one in San Antonio and the other north of Houston — that will be able to care for COVID-19 patients during the storms.
More than 800 personnel from the Texas Military Division, including the National Guard, are being assigned to sheltering teams, disinfecting teams, and mobile testing squads.
The state is also preparing for flooding — especially on Interstate 10 near Winnie in Chambers County. I-10 in this region, Abbott said, can become submerged during flooding. The Texas Department of Transportation is on standby with seven miles of barriers and pumps.
Abbott says it appears both Marco and Laura will cross paths at Texas’ border with Louisiana.
In addition to Marco, the state is also preparing for Laura’s intensifying into a Category 3 hurricane, with TDEM Chief Nim Kidd saying the Texas gulf region could see up to 15 inches of rain.
“It’s incredibly important for everybody who could be in the pathway of these storms to constantly heed local warnings about what may be happening in your community,” said Abbott. “There could be rising water very quickly.”
The Governor stressed familiar hurricane adages, like “Turn Around, Don’t Drown.”
Abbott said Texas is working with FEMA to respond to the oncoming hurricanes — which come during an already precarious time in Texas.
“As we respond to these oncoming hurricanes, it is essential that everybody in every community continue to do everything that you can to maintain your distance from others. To remember the safety practices that you have adopted over the past few months, that is to wear a mask, to sanitize your hands. To use all the strategies that now have proven to be so successful in Texas.”