With Hurricane Laura strengthening Tuesday (Aug. 25) as it approaches the east Texas Gulf Coast, Bellaire and West University officials are making preparations and calling on residents to do their part to mitigate the effects of expected high winds and heavy rains.
While mandatory and voluntary evacuations have been ordered along the coast — complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic — the main concerns inland with the fast-moving storm are wind damage, including power outages that Gov. Greg Abbott warned Tuesday could last for extended periods.
The 1 p.m. report from the National Hurricane Center calls for Laura to grow to at least a Category 3 storm at landfall overnight Wednesday-Thursday west of the Texas/Louisiana border. It is expected to remain at strong tropical storm force as it sweeps quickly through Houston early Thursday morning. The first effects from winds are forecast for late Wednesday.
Forecasters and public officials caution that many variables are still at work that could alter some of the forecast, but that emergency preparations are in order.
Bellaire will elevate its Emergency Operations Center to Level 1 at 3 p.m. Wednesday from a current Level 3, and West University will do the same Wednesday night. Each will have essential city personnel staffing the EOCs and on the streets through the duration of the storm and its most severe aftermath.
Both cities have canceled solid waste collection for Thursday.
The following are updated actions taken by each city:
- City offices closed to the public Thursday and Friday.
• Trash/recycling/yard waste collection canceled for Thursday and possibly Friday. Residents should not place any items curbside for collection.
- Pools and the Recreation center closed Thursday-Friday.
- Parked vehicles should not be parked in the street on Wednesday night and Thursday to aid with needed cleanup, as well as emergency vehicle access.
- Solid waste pickup disruption: No collection Thursday for sections A, B and E, resuming the next scheduled pickup day on Monday. Recycling pickup will take place as scheduled Wednesday, but residents are urged to bring in bins as quickly as possible and to secure any other items that could float and block drains. Regular solid waste pickup is expected to resume Friday.
- Changes in scheduled city meetings: Tonight’s Flood Mitigation Task Force meeting has been postponed. Wednesday’s Building & Standards Commission meeting and Thursday’s Bellaire LIFE Advisory Board meeting are canceled.
Residents in both cities are urged to sign up for their respective emergency notifications through the municipal websites at BellaireTX.gov and WestUTX.gov and to follow the cities’ social media accounts on Facebook and Twitter.