UPDATE: Montgomery County officials preparing for Hurricane Laura; high winds and some rain expected locally

Hurricane Laura is expected to bring heavy winds to the region this week. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Hurricane Laura is expected to bring heavy winds to the region this week. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Hurricane Laura is expected to bring heavy winds to the region this week. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Updated Aug. 25 4:48 p.m.

Montgomery County officials advised residents to prepare their homes for strong winds brought by Hurricane Laura Aug. 25, and a disaster declaration was issued in the county as the storm bears down on the Greater Houston area.

In an updated issued at 3:52 p.m. Aug. 25, the Houston/Galveston National Weather Service forecast office said the storm is expected to reach the Gulf Coast as a major hurricane late Wednesday and early Thursday. Montgomery County remains under a tropical storm warning as of 4 p.m., with significant potential wind and rain impacts expected in the area.

Montgomery County was also added to Gov. Greg Abbott's Aug. 23 disaster declaration, and Keough said the county had declared a local state of disaster Aug. 25.

“This is going to be wind event, and it’s going to cause widespread trouble, we believe," Keough said at a press conference.

Keough said residents should stock up on at least one week's worth of food and water for their families and pets, remove outdoor objects and furniture on their property, fill prescriptions and fuel their vehicles ahead of the storm's arrival. Power outages throughout the area are also expected, Keough said, and residents should prepare for a possible loss of power and have flashlights available, Keough said.

Jason Millsaps, executive director of the county office of emergency management, said convalescent shelters are being prepared throughout the county. Additional precautions related to COVID-19, including lower shelter capacity and the availability of supplies such as personal protective equipment and sanitary materials are also in place.

“Montgomery County is prepared for this storm. We’ve been preparing for a week and everybody’s been working very hard to make sure that we are on top of our business as we enter into this time of potential crisis," Keough said.

Earlier in the afternoon, Conroe ISD announced the closure of its campuses and district operations Aug. 26-27. More information on the district's plans for Aug. 28 is expected Thursday.

Posted Aug. 24

The Montgomery County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management is advising residents to prepare for some local effects from the expected landfalls of tropical storms Marco and Laura later this week.

The two storms bearing down on the Gulf Coast are expected to make landfall over the coming days, according to the Houston/Galveston National Weather Service forecast office. As of 4 p.m. Aug. 24, NWS forecasts show a weakened Tropical Storm Marco potentially tracking through the Greater Houston area early Wednesday morning, with Tropical Storm Laura—which is expected to strengthen to hurricane status Aug. 25—following early Thursday.

Montgomery County remains under a tropical storm watch as of 4:38 p.m. Aug. 24. The NWS said significant potential wind impacts and limited potential flooding rain impacts can be expected from the storms. Gov. Greg Abbott's Aug. 23 disaster declaration covering 23 coastal Texas counties does not include Montgomery County, but the governor did advise residents in the area to take precautions.

"As Hurricane Marco and Tropical Storm Laura approach Texas, the state is taking necessary precautions to protect our communities and keep Texans safe," Abbott said. "I urge Texans in the path of these storms to plan ahead and heed the guidance of their local officials."

Meghan Arthur, public information officer for the Montgomery County emergency management office, said the agency was continuing its local preparations for the storms Monday afternoon.

“We are making sure that the agencies within Montgomery County are on alert and they’re ready and that, also, all of our resources are," Arthur said.

Arthur said the main effect Montgomery County residents can expect from the storms throughout the county is high winds, although forecasts for the weather systems may still change in the coming hours and days as the storms move through the region.

“At this time, we’re not expecting a large rain event, but of course, ... there’s still uncertainty, and we’ll know more as we get closer to the storms making landfall," Arthur said. "From what we’re understanding, ... this isn’t going to be a rain event just due to the fact that the storm is moving so fast."

With high winds anticipated throughout the area—the NWS said wind speeds of 58-73 miles per hour could occur—Arthur advised county residents to clear their homes and yards by trimming trees, bringing smaller outdoor furniture inside and tying down larger outdoor items. She also said residents should prepare hurricane kits with recommended essential items as well as supplies related to the coronavirus and plan to avoid making plans for large gatherings when seeking shelter from the storms.

"We’re asking people in addition to their general preparedness kit that they also put in things for COVID[-19]. So [pack] your mask and hand sanitizer, those kind of things, and try to stay away from [congregating at] shelters and making plans with family elsewhere," she said.

The emergency management office is maintaining pages on its website for Marco and Laura and will provide storm updates on its Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Nextdoor social media accounts. A general preparedness guide for the 2020 hurricane season is also available on the emergency management office's website.

Residents seeking more information from the emergency management office may call 936-523-3900, email eoc@mctx.org or visit www.mctxoem.org.
By Ben Thompson
Ben joined Community Impact Newspaper in January 2019 and is a reporter for The Woodlands edition.


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