Gov. Abbott warns COVID-19 will complicate any evacuations as Cristobal brushes Texas

Updated

2:06 pm CDT, Friday, June 5, 2020

Satellite imagery shows swirling clouds approaching the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday, June 4, 2020. MUST CREDIT: NOAA

Satellite imagery shows swirling clouds approaching the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday, June 4, 2020. MUST CREDIT: NOAA

Photo: NOAA, Handout / Handout

Photo: NOAA, Handout / Handout

Satellite imagery shows swirling clouds approaching the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday, June 4, 2020. MUST CREDIT: NOAA

Satellite imagery shows swirling clouds approaching the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday, June 4, 2020. MUST CREDIT: NOAA

Photo: NOAA, Handout / Handout

Gov. Abbott warns COVID-19 will complicate any evacuations as Cristobal brushes Texas

While Tropical Depression Cristobal is currently on a track to make landfall in Louisiana, Gov. Greg Abbott and emergency management officials warned Friday that some East Texas residents should be preparing over the weekend to evacuate their homes if need be.

Those who live within 50 miles of the Sabine River are most likely to be evacuated if flooding occurs, Abbott said. Local officials are planning to begin evacuations earlier than usual to guard against the spread of the coronavirus.

“In typical Texas fashion, we are dealing with multiple challenges,” Abbott said. “This situation is different from other types of storms we’ve dealt with in the past.”

State and local officials have arranged for motel rooms to be available to evacuees so that families can stay together without possibly spreading COVID-19 to others, Abbott said. Any emergency shelters that open will be able to accept fewer evacuees than normal for social distancing purposes.

“As local officials go about their task of responding to this tropical storm challenge, they need to be cognizant constantly of the possibility that this could stoke people coming together in ways that could transmit COVID-19,” Abbott said.

Capacity will also be limited on evacuation buses, which will be able to take about a third as many passengers as usual, said Nim Kidd, chief of the Texas Emergency Management Division. He advised residents to make sure they have enough personal protective equipment and hand sanitizer.

So far, Cristobal is expected to bring heavy rains "and nothing more" to Texas, Abbott said, while cautioning that conditions can change quickly: “We’ll just need to see which way it tracks, and we will know more about that in the next 24 to 48 hours.”


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About the Author: Robert Eckhart, Austin Bureau

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