Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo urged residents to prepare for a hurricane as the track and intensity of Tropical Storm Laura remains uncertain.
She said the greatest threat posed by Laura likely would be high winds and a storm surge, and urged the public not to make comparisons to historical storms.
“This is not Harvey, this is not Imelda, this is not Allison. This is Laura,” Hidalgo said. “Every storm is different, and we urge folks not to use any prior storm as a template for what could or will happen.”
Laura is expected to strengthen to a hurricane Tuesday, possibly as strong as Category 2, before making landfall in southeast Texas or southwest Louisiana on Wednesday, the National Weather Service predicted Monday afternoon.
Hidalgo said residents should prepare hurricane kits and check which evacuation zone they live in.
The mayor of Port Arthur ordered an evacuation beginning Tuesday morning for the 55,000 residents of that city on the Texas-Louisiana border. City of Galveston leaders issued a voluntary evacuation for residents in low-lying areas and on the west end of the seawall.
Houston and Harris County have no present plans to order an evacuation. Hidalgo said residents in coastal areas should be ready to leave at a moment’s notice, as an evacuation order likely would come sometime Tuesday.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said residents should be prepared for high traffic on freeways heading away from the coast. He asked residents to stay off the roads if possible to keep evacuation routes clear and secure anything outside their homes that could blow away in high winds.
Generally speaking, you run from flooding and you shelter from winds. Unless you’ve been told to evacuate, you should probably prepare to shelter in place. In the meantime, stay calm and check Space City Weather for the most up to date forecasts.