NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - Nacogdoches County emergency response leaders are warning residents that it’s a good idea to prepare for the effects of Hurricane Laura, even if the storm doesn’t have the same impact on Nacogdoches County as it does surrounding counties.
A First Alert Weather Day has been declared for Thursday as Hurricane Laura is expected to move over the Texas-Louisiana border, bringing with it heavy rainfall, localized flash flooding, and potentially damaging winds, according to Meteorologist Makayla Lucero.
Unlike previous hurricanes impacting Nacogdoches, evacuees are strongly encouraged not to stop.
“Nacogdoches is not a hub for sheltering,” explained Nacogdoches County Judge Greg Sowell.
The judge and other emergency planners had detailed phone conferences with state emergency planners.
“Evacuees will be going west and going north and directed past Nacogdoches,” said Sowell.
But from experience, emergency workers know not all evacuees will choose to pass thru.
"I know our hotels in Nacogdoches are pretty much full and have been since yesterday, either full or with reservations."
Nacogdoches County is under contract with Newton and Jasper County officials to house evacuees from those counties at the Nacogdoches County Civic Center. Sowell was notified Tuesday morning the space would be needed
"At what's called a point to point shelter."
Organized bus transport of evacuees from that region is expected. But this time the center will only hold a third of its capacity.
"Right now, with the COVID restrictions that are in that's been dropped down to 125," said Sowell.
In addition, the center’s second floor will be used to house DPS troopers.
The first two of possibly a hundred troopers arrived this afternoon.
A few churches, willing to take the risk that COVID-19 presents, will house evacuees if wind and flooding force locals out of homes.
Meanwhile, storm routines are encouraged. Gas station lines formed by noon today.
"Make sure you have food and water stocked for three days. Medications for several days," advised Larissa Philpot, acting a spokesperson for both the city and county.
“At this point, it’s a waiting game to see what this storm actually does,” said Sowell.
Philpot suggested, "please rely on KTRE and the National Weather Service for guidance."
The advice is sound.