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Tropical Depression Harvey has been upgraded to a hurricane by the TDEM Texas State Operations Center. Increased rain and wind is expected to arrive by Friday evening and to intensify through the weekend.
The City of Huntsville urges residents to be prepared as the storm may intensify rapidly. If the Hurricane is upgraded to a Category 3 storm, it will be the first such to hit the Texas Gulf Coast since Hurricane Alicia.
Locally, there is potential for heavy rain and winds up to and exceeding 40 miles per hour, with heavier weather conditions further south and along the Texas coast. Storm surge along the coast could begin as early as Friday morning (August 25, 2017). A Category 3 hurricane may have winds up to 115 miles per hour with gusts up to 138 miles per hour.
River flooding may occur based on storm intensity and movement. Area lakes and reservoirs may be making water releases to allow for anticipated rainfall, which may already be causing river flow and can continue to impact water levels. State weather authorities note tornadoes may be a threat from Friday through the weekend.
Because Tropical Depression Harvey is expected to present dangerous conditions and due to possible intense rainfall levels in isolated areas, statewide emergency managers are considering a stronger than usual response for such a storm and are working on a reduced timeline. The next statewide briefing will occur at noon on Friday (August 25,2017), while the National Weather Service office in Houston will be briefing area officials up to four times daily through the storm.
State agencies and statewide human services organizations are activating teams and services to continue preparations and move resources. Walker County Emergency Manager Butch Davis said their Emergency Operations Center will be staffed continuously beginning 7 a.m. Friday (August 25, 2017), while preparations for sheltering and other local needs has begun with all local entities. Local non-emergency needs, as always, can be addressed by calling 936-435-8035 (emergency calls should always be handled by calling 911). Please make preparations for your household and allow law enforcement to focus on emergencies as much as possible.
The City is considering closing the Transfer Station and Recycling Center on Saturday (August 26, 2017). Any possible changes to Solid Waste Services next week will be relayed as announced. City crews continue to fill and check City generators and ensure the City fleet is prepared.
Walker County Judge Danny Pierce and City of Huntsville Mayor Andy Brauninger are prepared to issue disaster declarations as needed. At this time, the Governor has not included Walker County in a declaration. The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), area Swift Water Rescue Teams, and the Walker County Small Animal Issues Committee are on standby for full activation in affected areas.
The Huntsville Independent School District (http://www.huntsville-isd.org/) and Sam Houston State University (http://www.shsu.edu/) will provide public information about events scheduled for this weekend. Citizens can check the HISD and SHSU websites and follow them on social media for updated information as the storm develops.
Weather conditions are dependent on storm intensity and movement which can change often. Residents should follow conditions on social media and through local media sources to be sure they have the latest information and are prepared for changes. Residents can follow the National Weather Service reports on their website at www.weather.gov. For updated local information, follow social media posts on Facebook and Twitter for the City of Huntsville and the Walker County Office of Emergency Management (OEM).
County and City officials continue to make assessments of the situation. “Our primary purpose is to secure and ensure the safety of those impacted and of our community and to continue serving the public at the highest level and with as little disruption as possible, said Mayor Brauninger. “Stay in touch by following the City’s website and social media channels so you have facts.”
Preparation and patience are necessary for everyone to safely and successfully get through the storm. Discuss your plan with your family, remembering to account for pets and those with special needs. Neighbors and the elderly may also need assistance. To help plan or find links to other agencies, visit www.HuntsvilleTX.gov/ReadyHuntsville or www.Ready.gov. Additional information is available on the Walker County OEM webpage at http://www.co.walker.tx.us/department/?fDD=22-0.
The City of Houston Office of Emergency Management has provided the following additional information and recommendations:
Tropical Storms can bring heavy rain, strong winds, storm surges, and power outages. The main threat from this system will be heavy rainfall, which is likely to cause flash flooding and area flooding.
Although the exact track and intensity of this system is uncertain - it is important for residents to pay close attention and begin taking steps in the event an emergency situation occurs as a result of this storm.
Steps to Take Now
- Ensure your family has 5-7 days worth of food, water and supplies. This includes enough prescription medication to get you through this period, in case pharmacies and doctors' offices are closed.
- If you have seniors, children, pets or other special circumstances, make sure their individual needs are met.
- Develop a family communication plan, so that you know who to check in with after a storm. Visit ready.gov for more information on how to do this.
- Monitor current conditions with the National Weather Service at weather.gov/houston, and the National Hurricane Center at hurricanes.gov.
- Know how to turn off your utilities, this includes electricity, water, and gas. Only turn off gas if instructed by local officials or by CenterPoint Energy.
During these types of situations, rumors and misinformation can be everywhere. That's why it is important to seek out official information from trusted sources.
For more information, contact City of Huntsville Emergency Management Coordinator John Waldo at firstname.lastname@example.org or the Office of the City Secretary/PIO at email@example.com.