Disaster declaration issued for 4 Houston-area counties ahead of Tropical Storm Beta

Forecasters currently predict Tropical Storm Beta will make landfall the evening of Sept. 22 along the middle Texas coast then slowly move along the coast or slightly inland through the Greater Houston region toward Louisiana. (Courtesy National Weather Service)
Forecasters currently predict Tropical Storm Beta will make landfall the evening of Sept. 22 along the middle Texas coast then slowly move along the coast or slightly inland through the Greater Houston region toward Louisiana. (Courtesy National Weather Service)

Forecasters currently predict Tropical Storm Beta will make landfall the evening of Sept. 22 along the middle Texas coast then slowly move along the coast or slightly inland through the Greater Houston region toward Louisiana. (Courtesy National Weather Service)

Updated 10:57 a.m. Sept. 23

Clear Creek and Friendswood ISDs remain closed Sept. 23, but Alvin and Pearland ISDs resumed normal operations. All University of Houston-Clear Lake campuses will be open for normal operations at 12 p.m. Sept. 23; College of the Mainland also resumed normal operations. In-person activity at San Jacinto College is canceled Sept. 23 although remote learning will continue as scheduled.

Updated 10:59 a.m. Sept. 22

Clear Creek, Friendswood, Alvin and Pearland ISDs remain closed due to weather Sept. 22. All University of Houston-Clear Lake campuses are now closed until further notice. In-person activity at College of the Mainland and San Jacinto College is canceled Sept. 22, although remote learning will continue as scheduled.

For updated storm information, click here.



Originally posted 12:44 p.m. Sept. 21

As Tropical Storm Beta approaches the Texas coast, several Bay Area school districts, colleges and city entities have announced closures for Sept. 21 “out of an abundance of caution.”

Gov. Greg Abbott on Sept. 21 issued a disaster declaration in response to the storm for 29 counties, including Brazoria, Fort Bend, Harris and Galveston. Heavy rain and flash flooding may occur with this slow-moving tropical system, although the expected rain amounts are the most uncertain part of the forecast, according to the National Weather Service’s 10:30 a.m. update.

Clear Creek ISD announced its weather-related closure at 7 p.m. Sept. 20 for the following day. This closure impacts all students, including those attending through the Clear Connections online platform, and all extracurricular activities; a decision for Sept. 22 will be made at a later time, according to a media release.

Friendswood, Pearland and Alvin ISDs all followed suit about two hours later. Like CCISD, the closures also affect online learners in those districts. Although Fort Bend County is included in the disaster declaration, Fort Bend ISD is open Sept. 21.

“Out of an abundance of caution, FISD will be closed tomorrow due to Tropical Storm Beta along with all Galveston County School Districts,” FISD Communication Specialist Kelsey Purcell said in an email. “Jeff Linder with the Harris County Flood Control District shared concerns about possible bands producing heavy rain and local flooding overnight and into [Sept. 21]. We will meet again with HCFCD late tomorrow afternoon to reassess returning to school Tuesday.”

Seabrook Mayor Thom Kolupski signed a local disaster declaration the morning of Sept. 21 to assist the city with storm mitigation and recovery. A voluntary evacuation for residents and business owners in low-lying, flood-prone areas—specifically lower Todville from Red Bluff south to SH 146 and Baywood Drive—was issued midday Sept. 19, according to a news release.

Also on the morning of Sept. 21, the city of League City closed Heritage Park, the Dr. Ned and Fay Dudney Clear Creek Nature Center, and the League City Boat ramp until further notice due to a storm surge causing flooding in the city’s low-lying areas.

Bay Area higher education institutions vary in their response to the impending storm: College of the Mainland canceled in-person classes and on-campus operations but will hold online and virtual learning as scheduled, while all University of Houston-Clear Lake locations remain open, as does San Jacinto College.

The Houston Public Works Department initiated the temporary lowering of Lake Houston on the evening of Sept. 19 in preparation for the storm, according to a news release from Mayor Pro Tem Dave Martin’s office. The lake was at a level of 42.02 feet at the time of the Sept. 19 news release, and lowering began that evening to get the lake to 41 feet, which is 1 foot below full pool, per the release. If 3 inches or more of rainfall are anticipated, the lake is lowered, per the release.

Forecasters currently predict the storm will make landfall the evening of Sept. 22 along the middle Texas coast then slowly move along the coast or slightly inland through the Greater Houston region toward Louisiana. Their confidence in the storm’s track is moderate.

By Colleen Ferguson

Reporter, Bay Area

A native central New Yorker, Colleen worked as an editorial intern with the Cy-Fair and Lake Houston | Humble | Kingwood editions of Community Impact Newspaper before joining the Bay Area team in 2020. She covers public education, higher education, business and development news in southeast Houston. Colleen graduated in 2019 from Syracuse University and the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, where she worked for the university's independent student newspaper The Daily Orange. Her degrees are in journalism and Spanish language and culture. When not chasing a story, Colleen can be found petting cats and dogs, listening to podcasts, swimming or watching true crime documentaries.