Local leaders are taking steps to get out in front of Hurricane Laura.
West University Mayor Bob Higley and Bellaire Mayor Andrew Friedberg have signed disaster declarations Wednesday (Aug. 26) as Laura moves toward the Louisiana coast as a potentially catastrophic Category 4 storm with comparatively mild tropical storm effects here.
A hurricane warning is in effect from San Luis Pass, Texas, to the Intercoastal Waterway in Louisiana, with a tropical storm warning from Sargent, Texas — about 70 miles east of Galveston — to San Luis Pass.
Forecasters say rain and thunderstorms could hit Bellaire-West U tonight with 15-25 mph winds gusting to 30 mph and more. The highest probability will like occur between 9 p.m.-3 a.m.
Both cities closed city offices and facilities Wednesday afternoon, to remain closed Thursday, and moved their Emergency Operations Centers into Level 1 preparedness, with a corps of essential personnel on-site 24/7 to deal with effects of the storm. They began making preparations Tuesday, including adjusting solid waste collection schedules.
Bellaire residents, who received recycling pickup service Wednesday, were reminded to retrieve and secure their bins as quickly as possible. Both cities reminded residents to clear vehicles from the streets, clear property of any items that could become problematic in winds and rains, and check storm drains near their homes for possible obstructions.
Bellaire reminds residents of its no-wake ordinance that prohibits vehicles from traveling at a speed or in a manner that will create a wake on a flooded street, dangerously pushing water onto property.
If the forecast holds, though, this area will be fortunate. Because of a relatively dry summer, coupled with the fast-moving nature of the storm, authorities believe the bayous will be able to handle the rainfall, and that any power outages will be spotty and brief. The disaster declarations will facilitate West U and Bellaire receiving assistance, though, if there are emergency situations or damages.
Houston ISD and Houston Community College are closed Wednesday and Thursday, and METRO was scheduled to suspend service at 4 p.m. Wednesday.