Nearly three years after rain from Hurricane Harvey caused devastating, widespread flooding in the Houston region, city officials are preparing for two storms that could potentially impact the area next week.
According to the National Hurricane Center, Tropical Depression 14 is southeast of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico and expected to become a tropical storm and possibly a hurricane as it moves through the Gulf of Mexico, with projections indicating it could make landfall on the Texas coast on Tuesday. Another weather system, Tropical Storm Laura, is approaching the gulf and is projected to make landfall Wednesday along the Louisiana or Mississippi coast.
“This coming week will be the third anniversary of Harvey and, interestingly, there are two weather systems potentially in the gulf. Isn’t that something?” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said Friday. “We don’t want anyone not to be prepared. I’ve asked all City of Houston departments to review their plans and prepare a community-wide response to make sure they have anything they need.”
George Buenik of the city’s Office of Emergency Management encouraged residents to put together a hurricane preparedness kit if they haven’t already, including items such as bottled water, non-perishable food, a flashlight, first-aid kit and a radio powered by batteries or a hand crank. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Buenik and Turner said preparedness kits also should include masks and hand sanitizer or soap.
Turner said the George R. Brown Convention Center could be used as a shelter if needed. Dr. David Persse of the Houston Health Department said residents should not seek shelter at hospitals, which are not designed to be emergency shelters and are limiting visitors anyway because of the pandemic.
“As the storms come, the virus doesn’t take a break,” Turner said.