Texas responders preparing for Hurricane Harvey

The Emergency Command Center will be fully operational and will remain open around the clock until the storm passes

By Cody Stark
The Huntsville Item

WALKER COUNTY, Texas — Walker County could see heavy rains and strong winds this weekend if a storm system hovering in the Gulf of Mexico continues to strengthen ahead of its expected landfall Friday.

The National Weather Service is predicting that Tropical Depression Harvey will be at least a Category 1 hurricane when it hits the Texas coast with winds reaching more than 80 mph. As of press time Wednesday evening, the center of the storm was projected to hit Matagorda Bay and follow a northeast path inland.

“The details of the track are still uncertain as is the location of where the heaviest rainfall will be,” Dan Reilly with the National Weather Service told state emergency officials during a webinar briefing on Harvey on Wednesday afternoon.

Once Tropical Depression Harvey makes landfall, it is expected to stall, which Reilly said usually means there will be heavy rain fall along its path and flooding. If the storm system keeps it current track, Walker County could see 5 to 7 inches of rain and tropical storm force winds between 30 to 40 mph late Friday or Saturday morning.

Butch Davis, the county’s emergency management coordinator, said the Emergency Command Center will be fully operational Friday and remain open around the clock until the storm passes, which could be into early next week.

“(State emergency management) Chief (W. Nim) Kidd has told us to prepare for a category 2 hurricane, so that is what we are doing,” Davis said Wednesday. “Everyone has been notified to prepare for this storm — the fire departments, Sheriff’s Office, county commissioners and EMS. Everyone is on alert and ready for anything.”

Davis said Harvey could still switching is projected path and hit either further west or east. If the storm makes landfall further up the coast toward the Galveston area, Walker County could see more rain and stronger winds than expected.

A hurricane watch is in effect in South Texas from Port Mansfield north to San Luis Pass. A tropical storm watch has been called for from south of Port Mansfield to High Island, which is north of the Bolivar Peninsula.

Emergency officials remind citizens to make sure they are prepared in case Walker County is hit hard by the storm by having a supply kit with enough food and water for each person in their family and pets for at least three days. The supply kit also needs to include medications and first-aid, flashlights, batteries, a battery-operated or hand-crank radio, cash and other items that may be needed. If a hurricane is expected to make landfall, people also need to make sure to fill up their vehicles with gasoline.

For more information on how to prepare, visit www.ready.gov.

Anyone who needs assistance this weekend can contact the Emergency Command Center at (936) 435-8035. If it is an emergency, call 911.

People are encouraged to check out the Walker County Office of Emergency Management’s Facebook page for daily information on storm conditions throughout hurricane season.

Copyright 2017 The Huntsville Item

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