PORT ARTHUR, Texas (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — Port Arthur’s mayor on Monday said he will issue a mandatory evacuation order for the Southeast Texas city Tuesday morning before Tropical Storm Laura makes landfall.
Laura was expected to make landfall near the Texas-Louisiana border Wednesday night or early Thursday morning. Port Arthur is about 30 miles from the Louisiana border.
Forecasters believe Laura could strengthen into a Category 3 hurricane.
Port Arthur Mayor Thurman Bartie said he will ask the city’s more than 54,000 residents to evacuate their homes starting 6 a.m. Tuesday, unless the current forecast changes and pushes Laura’s landfall farther east.
“If you decide to stay, you’re staying on your own,” Bartie said.
Indigent individuals unable to leave on their own will be transported by bus to Walker County, which is north of Houston, Bartie said.
Officials in Houston asked residents to prepare supplies in case they need to shelter at home without power for a few days or if they needed to evacuate their homes if they live along the Gulf Coast. Shelters were being prepared that followed precautions designed to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Forecasters have said Laura could change course and make landfall near Houston.
“We are battle tested. We are ready to deal with this situation as well,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said Monday.
Preparations in Houston came one day before the three-year anniversary of Hurricane Harvey, which dumped up to 50 inches of rain in the Houston area, flooding more than 150,000 homes.
Various state resources to respond to severe weather have been placed on standby or positioned across Texas, including helicopters, water rescue teams and members of the Texas Army National Guard.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)