'We're preparing as if we know that a Category 3 hurricane is bearing down on us': ESD 10, Tomball plan for Laura

Around Tomball, City Manager Rob Hauck said the city has tested all of its generators, topped off its fuel supplies and prepared equipment necessary for high-water rescues and tree removal as well as cleared ditches and secured shelter locations should the area feel the effects of Hurricane Laura. (Adriana Rezal/Community Impact Newspaper)
Around Tomball, City Manager Rob Hauck said the city has tested all of its generators, topped off its fuel supplies and prepared equipment necessary for high-water rescues and tree removal as well as cleared ditches and secured shelter locations should the area feel the effects of Hurricane Laura. (Adriana Rezal/Community Impact Newspaper)

Around Tomball, City Manager Rob Hauck said the city has tested all of its generators, topped off its fuel supplies and prepared equipment necessary for high-water rescues and tree removal as well as cleared ditches and secured shelter locations should the area feel the effects of Hurricane Laura. (Adriana Rezal/Community Impact Newspaper)

As the Greater Houston area looks for Hurricane Laura to make landfall later this week, Montgomery County Emergency Services District No. 10 and the city of Tomball have already begun preparing their emergency operations centers to respond to needs in the region.

Gary Vincent, chief of the Magnolia Volunteer Fire Department—which contracts with ESD 10 to provide services—said Magnolia-area entities will prepare their regional command center at the MVFD headquarters Aug. 26. The command center will include representatives from Montgomery County Precinct 2, the Precinct 5 constable's office, Magnolia ISD, the sheriff's office, the city of Magnolia and the MVFD, he said. Together, the entities are expected to make more definitive plans Aug. 26 on the likely response in the area.

"I feel very comfortable; we're very well-prepared and absolutely have a plan for providing services to the residents," Vincent said.

While the MVFD is no stranger to high-water rescues, amphibious vehicles and emergency operations, rescue operations this year could prove to be more difficult amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Vincent said. He said the group of Magnolia-area entities has discussed where residents in need could be sheltered—keeping social distancing in mind—as well as how to transport people should the area feel effects of Hurricane Laura.

"We have developed plans for rescuing people and sheltering people that involve preparations for COVID-19 screening," Vincent said. "We'll do some initial screening of people before we put them into boats or flood vehicles or things like that and again we'll do screenings and social distancing at shelters. ... We have moved supplies and things necessary to be able to provide those kinds of screenings. That's just added another layer to the challenges of the hurricane and flooding responses."


Vincent said while the department will rescue residents in danger—regardless of the presence of COVID-19—he asks residents to wear a mask and disclose any COVID-19 symptoms upon first responders' arrival to help protect other residents and first responders who may also be in rescue vehicles or at shelters.

Further, if residents are in flood-prone areas, Vincent said he encourages those residents to self-evacuate early to lessen the risk for first responders and others having to perform rescue operations.

Tomball City Manager Rob Hauck also said he encourages residents to prepare with ample food, water, prescription medications, pet food and supplies should the Tomball area lose power for a few days or weeks. Hauck said the city was without power for about two weeks during Hurricane Ike, which hit the region in 2008. He said he foresees the coming storm being more of a high-winds concern in Tomball than heavy rainfall, although the storm is still developing.

Although Hauck said he believes there is no reason at this time for residents to evacuate in Tomball, he said he encourages residents to avoid traveling on the roads if possible to allow residents from the south to more easily evacuate before the storm.

"I was just advised that our hotels are full here in town already, so clearly people are evacuating and coming up north," Hauck said. "If you don't need to be on the roads, don't be on the roads. Otherwise, be hurricane-prepared."

Around Tomball, Hauck said the city has tested all of its generators, topped off its fuel supplies and prepared equipment necessary for high-water rescues and tree removal as well as cleared ditches and secured shelter locations. Further, Hauck said the city's radio station—95.3 FM—is able to broadcast live, if necessary, for any important announcements.

"Any potentially major storm event like this, we're preparing as if we know that a Category 3 hurricane is bearing down on us," Hauck said. "We're going to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. That has always served us well—being overprepared rather than underprepared."
By Anna Lotz

Editor, Tomball | Magnolia & Conroe | Montgomery

Anna joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in May 2016 after graduating with a degree in journalism from Cedarville University in Cedarville, Ohio. In July 2017, she transitioned to editor for the Tomball|Magnolia edition. She began covering the communities of Conroe and Montgomery as well in 2020. Anna covers education, local government, transportation, business, real estate development and nonprofits in these communities. Prior to CI, Anna served as editor-in-chief of Cedars, interned with the National Journalism Center in Washington, D.C., and spent time writing for the Springfield News-Sun and Xenia Daily Gazette.



MOST RECENT

Maverick Remodeling and Construction employees use electronic gauges to determine how well a League City house that flooded from bust pipes is drying. (Jake Magee/Community Impact Newspaper)
Freeze-damaged homes might qualify for property tax reduction

As of March 31, HCAD said it had only received about 150 applications for the exemption.

Managing partners and siblings Bryan Hutson and Teresa Latsis said The Hutson Group is adding sidewalks on Houston Street with plans for other walkability improvements to accompany building renovations from North Elm to Walnut streets. (Anna Lotz/Community Impact Newspaper)
Sidewalks, renovations taking shape on Houston Street in Old Town Tomball

Managing partners and siblings Bryan Hutson and Teresa Latsis said The Hutson Group is adding sidewalks on Houston Street with plans for other walkability improvements to accompany building renovations from North Elm to Walnut streets.

As part of President Joe Biden’s plan to reopen schools safely nationwide, the department’s National School Lunch Program Seamless Summer Option is being expanded beyond the summertime. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
USDA extends free school meals provision through 2021-22 school year

Schools nationwide will be able to serve nutritious meals to all students free of charge regardless of eligibility through June 30, 2022, officials announced.

Appointments for a coronavirus vaccine are not needed at Woodforest Bank Stadium. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Appointments no longer required at The Woodlands-area vaccination hub

Everybody age 16 and up is eligible for a vaccine at the hub.

Desert Industries opened April 15. (Courtesy Desert Industries)
Deseret Industries thrift store now open on FM 1960 in Cy-Fair

The new store opened last week with clothing, home goods and more.

Hurricane Harvey hit the Houston region in 2017. (Vanessa Holt/Community Impact Newspaper)
How Harris County residents can prepare for hurricane season

After the most active hurricane season on record in 2020, Harris County officials said residents should be prepared for the upcoming season starting June 1.

Blake Smith opened Smitty’s Meat Market and Smokehouse in December 2013 in Tomball. This photo is from a December 2014 story in Community Impact Newspaper. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Smitty's Meat Market & Smokehouse to relocate to larger space in Tomball

Smitty’s Meat Market and Smokehouse is planning to relocate to a new facility at 22621 Hufsmith-Kohrville Road, Tomball, from its existing Mahaffey Road site, according to Tomball Economic Development Corp. information.

HCA Houston Healthcare Tomball achieved accreditation as a Center of Excellence in robotic surgery, according to an April 19 press release from HCA Houston Healthcare. (Courtesy HCA Houston Healthcare)
HCA Houston Healthcare Tomball receives robotic surgery accreditation

HCA Houston Healthcare Tomball achieved accreditation as a Center of Excellence in robotic surgery, according to an April 19 press release from HCA Houston Healthcare.