Fort Bend County Judge KP George issued a disaster declaration Wednesday and activated the county’s emergency management plan and emergency operations center in preparation for Hurricane Laura.
“I encourage everyone to stay careful and stay prepared, and get their information from the right sources,” George said. “I encourage everyone to continue to follow the (county’s) social media pages and the Fort Bend County Homeland Security and Emergency Management website.”
George offered a reminder that practicing social distancing and wearing masks in public is essential to combating the COVID-19 pandemic in the midst of preparing for the coming storm. According to the latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center, Laura is expected to be a Category 4 storm when it makes landfall near the Texas-Louisiana border late Wednesday or early Thursday.
“We need to continue to be cautious with our behavior when we are out,” George said. “This is not the time to let our guard down.”
Fort Bend County Emergency Management Coordinator Mark Flathouse said residents should limit use of county roadways to essential travel to aid evacuees from Brazoria County and Galveston County and other coastal communities.
“The next 12 hours are critical for Fort Bend County,” Flathouse said. “To see if we are going to be impacted and what impacts are going to be due. And the other thing is if it does not impact us directly, that we are here for all of the other citizens on the coast and throughout Texas.”
Flathouse recommended in the event of landfall at Galveston or closer to the Houston area that those seeking shelter before the storm makes landfall should do so in Central Texas outside the path of the storm. After the storm has passed, Flathouse said the county will work with the Red Cross and local churches to provide shelter and aid for those in need in Fort Bend County or other neighboring counties.
Fort Bend County Drainage District Manager Mark Vogler said the county will be well prepared to handle flooding, adding “conditions couldn’t really get any better than they are right now.”
“The ground is relatively dry, all of our channels are empty, the Brazos River is low, the Barker Reservoir is empty and has full storage capacity available. The direction the storm is predicted to go is up to the northeast, but if it changes and heads up to the northwest, the reservoirs along the Brazos River watershed are all empty and have full storage capacity available to them.
“If we get 3-5 inches (of rain) over a 6- to 7-hour period of time, or even a 3-hour period of time, our system is (poised) to function well,” Vogler added. “… There will be some street flooding, possibly, but that should be expected.”
U.S. Rep. Al Green of Texas’ 9th Congressional District encouraged constituents to heed precautions of local officials regarding both coronavirus and Hurricane Laura.
“As we attempt to prepare for Hurricane Laura, I want my constituents to know that I am with them waiting the storm out in Houston. I encourage everyone to be safe, use your best judgement, and stay abreast of all local updates,” Green said in a statement. “While we take the necessary storm precautions, I urge us to remember that we are still grappling with a national health crisis. Keep your mask and hand sanitizer handy.
“If you have been tested for coronavirus recently, be sure to attain your results and follow up with your primary care practitioner as soon as possible,” he continued. “If you have tested positive or are experiencing symptoms and you are at home self-quarantining, please continue to do so to protect others from contracting the virus. If you are self-quarantining and your home is likely to be affected by Hurricane Laura, please relocate to a safe alternative.”
For more information related to Fort Bend County’s Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management or its response to Hurricane Laura, visit https://fbcoem.org/.
The county’s emergency alert notification system can be accessed via text message. Interested mobile phone users should text “FBCALERT” to 888-777.