Harris County officials issued a mandatory evacuation for residents along the east fork of the San Jacinto River in a press conference held May 2 at approximately 2:30 p.m.

Current situation

While Harris County officials previously issued a voluntary call for evacuation for some subdivisions along the east fork of the San Jacinto River on April 30, County Judge Lina Hidalgo has now issued a mandatory call for evacuation effective immediately for residents along the east fork of the San Jacinto River between FM 1485 and Lake Houston.

Hidalgo said while the east fork of the San Jacinto River is typically about 45-50 feet above sea level, the river reached 70 feet above sea level on April 30 and is expected to reach 78 feet above sea level over the next couple of days.

"That's just 3 feet below where [the water] was during [Hurricane] Harvey," Hidalgo said. "There is [going to be] significantly higher water [than April 30], which is going to impact mobility, and not only that, but it's going to impact your ability to take care of yourself and your ability to take care of your family. So we want you out of this area. We can't force anyone to do anything, but this is a life-threatening situation, and we need you to listen to that message that we're giving. It's turning out—especially for the east side of the San Jacinto River—to be worse that we imagined."

What residents need to know

In addition to the east fork of the San Jacinto River, Hidalgo also urged some residents along the west side to either evacuate today or plan to shelter in place for the next two to three days. Those areas include:
  • Portions of Kingwood alongside the San Jacinto River
  • Forest Cove
  • North Shore
  • Belleau Wood
  • River Crest
  • King's Point
  • Atascocita Shores
  • Rio Villa (evacuate before sundown May 3)
"Those areas closest to the river also have the potential to see some structure flooding," Hidalgo said. "We don't expect structure flooding to be likely; we don't expect homes to flood, but it's possible, and if they do, it certainly will not be widespread."

The options

Hidalgo noted several shelters that have opened for evacuees and their crated pets, including:
  • Philippians New Faith Missionary Baptist Church, 7858 Angus St., Houston
  • Green House International Church, 200 W. Greens Road, Houston
  • Leon Z. Grayson Community Center, 13828 Corpus Christi St., Houston
  • Calvary Baptist Church, 816 N. Blair Ave., Cleveland
Additional shelter openings can be found by clicking here or visiting www.redcross.org/shelter.

Also of note

Hidalgo also addressed widespread power outages in the northwestern area of the county—primarily in the Spring area—due to wind damage from storms earlier May 2. Hidalgo said residents could expect to be without power for anywhere from 24-36 hours, citing officials with CenterPoint energy.

Quote of note

"We've had a tough night; folks north of Harris County had a tough night, and more is coming," Hidalgo said. "Right now, we just need people to please heed our advice and to keep themselves, their families, their pets, [and] to what extent you can help your neighbors [safe]. Please remember there's [only] so much we can do as emergency management personnel; we need folks to take that individual responsibility and do your part as well."

Stay tuned

Hidalgo signed a disaster declaration on May 2, which will allow the county to acquire additional resources and assistance if necessary. The Harris County Office of Emergency Management has also increased to the second-highest level of readiness possible, Level 2.

Hidalgo noted she has already put an item on the May 7 commissioners court agenda to address any assistance county residents may need following the storm, including debris removal.