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LIVE BLOG: HCTRA to resume tolls Friday morning

Signs indicate lanes that only accept EZ Tags on a Houston-area toll road in this undated image.
Signs indicate lanes that only accept EZ Tags on a Houston-area toll road in this undated image. (KPRC)

With all eyes on the Gulf of Mexico, here are the latest updates from across the Houston area.


Your resource guide

Latest forecast updates from KPRC 2 Meteorologists

LIST: These are all the evacuation orders in place in the Houston area

SCHOOL CLOSURES: All the Houston-area schools, districts and colleges that will be closed due to severe weather

LIVE SOCIAL FEED: What Houston’s experts are saying about Laura and Marco right now

Here is KPRC2′s 2020 Hurricane & Flood Survival Guide


Follow a live blog of all the latest updates on weather and closures below:

2:09 p.m. Thursday -- Tolls to resume Friday morning

The Harris County Toll Road Authority announced tolls will resume on Friday morning. The tolls had been waived for the past couple of days while voluntary evacuation orders were in effect. Those orders were lifted Thursday morning after Hurricane Laura made landfall about 120 miles east of Houston.

11:54 a.m. -- Gov. Abbott provides update on response efforts

Abbott said search and rescue teams have been dispatched, but so far, there have been no reports of missing persons in Texas areas.

11:51 a.m. -- Fire reported at chemical plant in Southwest Louisiana following Hurricane Laura

Officials are responding to reports of a fire at a chemical plant in Westlake, Louisiana. Video shows smoke coming from the plant.

7:50 a.m. -- Galveston County evacuation order partially lifted

Officials with Galveston County confirmed to KPRC 2 that residents of Galveston mainland and the island are allowed to return home.

“State Highway 87 and State Highway 124 are being cleared by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and are expected to be opened later today,” according to a news release. “TxDOT is also in the process of assessing conditions and working to restart the ferry service to the Peninsula. An additional announcement will be made later today once the transportation routes to the Bolivar Peninsula are reopened.”

Residents who live in unincorporated areas of Galveston County should check with their local authorities before returning home.

7:04 a.m. -- Man spotted on top of flooded vehicle in Vinton, Louisiana

A man was spotted on top of a flooded vehicle in Vinton, Louisiana. The man said he had been traveling overnight.

There has been heavy damage to the city as a result of Hurricane Laura.

6:46 a.m. -- Heavy damage seen in Vinton, Louisiana after Hurricane Laura made landfall

There is heavy damage seen on restaurants, buildings and gas stations in Vinton, Louisiana after Hurricane Laura made landfall.

6:14 a.m. -- Crews arrive to clear rocks from impassable roadway by High Island near Bolivar Peninsula

Crews have worked to remove several rocks blocking a roadway High Island near Bolivar Peninsula.

The roadway was impassable for several hours and is still closed for the time being.

4:37 a.m. -- Roadway impassable by High Island near Bolivar Peninsula

The roadway is impassable by High Island near Bolivar Peninsula due to large rocks covering the street.

2:19 a.m. -- Multiple outages reported in Beaumont, Port Arthur and Lake Charles

Entergy is reporting multiple outages near the Texas-Louisiana border, including Beaumont, Port Arthur and Lake Charles. The company reports that more than 56,647 affected customers.

Entergy is reporting multiple outages near the Texas-Louisiana border, including Beaumont, Port Arthur and Lake Charles. The company reports that more than 56,647 affected customers.
Entergy is reporting multiple outages near the Texas-Louisiana border, including Beaumont, Port Arthur and Lake Charles. The company reports that more than 56,647 affected customers. (KPRC)

10:00 p.m. -- Reports of high-speed wind gusts

A buoy east of Galveston is gusting to 51mph with 12-foot seas, according to Jeff Lindner, a meteorologist with the Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD).

9:50 p.m. -- HCA Houston Health announced temporary suspension of services

HCA Houston Healthcare has announced the North Channel and Fairmont locations will be suspending operations at 8 p.m.

Fairmont is scheduled to reopen at noon Thursday.

North Channel is scheduled to reopen at 7 p.m. Thursday.

If you are in need of emergency care during those hours, the emergency center at HCA Houston Southeast, 4000 Spencer Highway in Pasadena, will remain open.

9:00 p.m. -- Closures on Interstate 10

Texas Department of Transporation and the Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards have closed sections of Interstate 10.

According to TxDOT, the eastbound and westbound lanes in Lake Charles are closed.

Edwards said the state is closing Interstate 10 from around the Atchafalaya Bridge outside of Lafayette all the way into part of Texas because several stretches within that area are expected to flood.

8:40 p.m. -- North Texas opens shelter for coastal evacuees

A self-evacuation reception center for Hurricane Laura evacuees is open at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 850 South IH45, Ennis, TX 75119.

The center is for those fleeing coastal areas so evacuees can receive assistance in identifying the most appropriate shelter location.

8:30 p.m. -- Hurricane Laura call center open

The Hurricane Laura call center is open for Montgomery County residents. The number is 936-523-3918.

During times of a disaster, only use 911 if it is a life-threatening emergency.

4:30 p.m. -- Some flights out of Houston have been canceled or delayed.

Passengers leaving or arriving in Houston are asked to check the airline directly.

For departures, check here.

For arrivals, check here.

12:55 p.m. -- People on Coast preparing for Laura

Officials said the Coast can experience between two to five feet in surge.

12:53 p.m. -- Port Arthur residents bracing for Laura

Port Arthur residents are getting on buses and evacuating before Laura possibly impacts the city.

12:40 p.m. -- Cattle being evacuated from Winnie

Cattle and livestock are being evacuated before Laura is expected to hit near Winnie.

12:31 p.m. -- Residents boarding up homes before leaving Bolivar Penisula

People are boarding up their homes before evacuating Bolivar Peninsula.

9 a.m. -- METRO to suspend services ahead of Hurricane Laura

METRO Houston announced that it will be suspending serviced starting at 4 p.m. Wednesday ahead of Hurricane Laura’s landfall. Click here for more details.

8:24 a.m. -- Judge Lina Hidalgo signs disaster declaration for Harris County

6:55 a.m. -- Families in Beaumont and Port Arthur evacuating ahead of hurricane

Families in Beaumont and Port Arthur are still evacuating before Hurricane Laura touches down in the area.

The hurricane has strengthened to a major Category 3 storm with winds of 115 mph.

6:47 a.m. -- Residents continue to evacuate from Galveston

Curfew was lifted at 6 a.m. and Galveston residents are still preparing to leave ahead of Hurricane Laura. The curfew will go back into effect at 8 p.m.

6:24 a.m. -- Jefferson County under mandatory evacuation

Jefferson County residents are preparing to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Laura. The order will remain in effect for 10 days.

6:06 a.m. -- Residents preparing to evacuate Bolivar Penisula

The city of Galveston issued a voluntary evacuation order ahead of Tropical Storm Laura.

The declaration affects multiple areas including, Tiki Island, San Leon, Baycliff, Hitchcock, the Bolivar Peninsula and Galveston. Residents in the Bolivar Penisula are still preparing for Hurricane Laura Wednesday.

5:05 a.m. -- Chambers County to bus evacuees

Chambers County will bus evacuees ahead of Hurricane Laura. There is a mandatory evacuation order for residents who live in low-lying and flood-prone areas. People who live in trailers or manufactured homes are required to move to a safer location. The county is offering a limited number of charter busses to assist residents in the evacuation. The busses will depart from Anahuac High School and Winnie-Stowell Park early Wednesday morning.

Tuesday, Aug. 25

11:09 p.m. — Houston Health Department COVID-19 testing sites to remain closed

The following Houston Health Department COVID-19 testing sites will remain closed on Wednesday and Thursday due to impending Hurricane Laura:

  • Butler Stadium, 13755 S Main St.
  • Delmar Stadium, 2020 Mangum Rd.
  • Darrell Tully Stadium, 1050 Dairy Ashford
  • Kingwood Park Comm. Ctr, 4102 Rustic Woods Dr
  • Minute Maid Park, Lot C, 2208 Preston St

9:12 p.m. — Busses for evacuees in Chambers County

Chambers County is offering a limited number of charter busses to assist residents who need to evacuate. The busses will depart early Wednesday morning from two locations — Anahuac High School and Winnie-Stowell Park. Seats on the bus will be on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Residents who want to use these busses must arrive on location by 6:30 a.m. Wednesday to check in. Busses will depart at 8 a.m. Each evacuee is allowed to bring one suitcase and one small personal item.

EVACUATIONS: These are all the evacuation orders in place in the Houston area

8:10 p.m. — Gov. Abbott waives TxDOT tolls in Houston-area

Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced that all Texas Department of Transportation tolls will be wavied along the agency’s portion of SH99/Grand Parkway beginning at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

“As Hurricane Laura approaches Texas, this waiver will ensure that Texans are able to evacuate efficiently ahead of the storm,” Abbott said in the release. “I urge Texans in the area to continue to take all necessary precautions as Hurricane Laura nears the coast and heed the guidance of local officials.”

8 p.m. — Texas DPS offices to close

Due to mandatory evacuations along the Gulf Coast, several Texas Department of Public Safety offices will remain closed, the agency announced.

The Harris County DL mega centers and the DL office in Angleton will be closed starting Wednesday at noon through Thursday at least.

7 p.m. — Curfew for residents of city of Galveston

The City of Galveston has implemented a series of curfews over the next three nights ahead of Hurricane Laura. The first curfew will go into effect at 10 p.m. Tuesday night.

“Galveston Mayor Pro Tem Craig Brown signed the order Tuesday implementing the curfew, which prevents people from being on public streets or right-of-way and begins at 10 p.m. tonight,” officials wrote on Facebook. “The only legitimate reason for a person to be on the roads is to leave the island as part of the evacuation for Hurricane Laura.”

Per the curfew order, “any person found on the public right of way and not evacuating may be stopped by law enforcement and subject to a misdemeanor and an up to $1,000 fine,” officials said. The goal of the curfew is to protect residents from looters.

Curfews will be in place for these times:

  • Tuesday at 10 p.m. until Wednesday 6 a.m.
  • Wednesday at 8 p.m. until Thursday at 6 a.m.
  • Thursday at 8 p.m. until Friday at 6 a.m.

The City of Galveston has implemented a series of curfews over the next three nights for the protection of residents and...

Posted by City of Galveston, Texas - Government on Tuesday, August 25, 2020

4:32 p.m. — Lake Houston level being lowered

Houston Public Works will initiate the lowering of Lake Houston within the hour, officials announced.

The lake will be lowered to about 41 feet which is 18 inches below full pool officials said.

“It is predicted Hurricane Laura will bring 2 - 4 inches of rain to the Lake Houston Area over a six-day period, with isolated incidents of 6 inches of rainfall possible,” officials wrote. “These rainfall amounts exceed the 3-inch trigger to lower Lake Houston.”

2:42 p.m. — NASA Astronaut tweets insane pictures of Hurricane Laura from ISS

2:21 p.m. — Houston Zoo closes

The Houston Zoo announced it is closing Wednesday and Thursday due to the impending threat of Hurricane Laura.

“The animals will be cared for during the storm by a select group of team members who will stay at the Zoo throughout the weather event,” zoo officials wrote. “The animals have safe and secure barns and night houses that have been constructed to weather storms like this one.”

1:22 p.m. — Chambers County judge issues mandatory evacuation order

Chambers County Judge Jimmy Sylvia announced that he had issued mandatory evacuation orders for at-risk areas in Chambers County, effective immediately.

“Residents who reside in low lying and flood prone areas and those who live in trailer/manufactured homes are required to move to a safer location,” officials wrote. “Residents should follow the Hurricane Evacuation Routes outlined in the attached 2020 Evacuation Routes document.”

1:17 p.m. — Fort Bend County judge announces tolls waived in county

All tolls in Fort Bend County were waived beginning at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday on Fort Bend Parkway, Westpark Toll Road and Grand Parkway to support evacuations due to Hurricane Laura.

“It is encouraged that residents use these routes instead of flooded roads,” officials wrote. “Tolls will remain waived through Friday, August 28 at 11:59 p.m. to assist in the region’s hurricane response and recovery.”

12:55 p.m. — Austin area activates shelter plan to prepare for evacuees

The City of Austin and Travis, Hays and Williamson counties have activated the Capital Area Shelter Hub Plan at the request of the State of Texas to begin preparing to receive evacuees from coastal communities.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in substantial changes to the plan to shelter evacuees,” officials wrote. “These changes include assigning evacuees to hotels instead of a few or single large congregate shelter. At this time, the planned locations to receive evacuees and the locations of hotels for evacuees are not being made public. Some of this information will be provided in subsequent updates.”

10:38 a.m. — CenterPoint Energy urges residents to prepare for potential outages lasting weeks

CenterPoint Energy urged residents to prepare for possible weeks-long outages due to Hurricane Laura. Here’s a breakdown of estimated outage times from the company:

HURRICANEWIND SPEEDESTIMATED OUTAGE
CAT 1winds 74-95 mph7 to 10 days
CAT 2winds 96-110 mph2 to 3 weeks
CAT 3winds 111-130 mph3 to 5 weeks
CAT 4winds 131-155 mph4 to 6 weeks
CAT 5winds 156 mph and up6 to 8 weeks

10:33 a.m. — Harris County Judge waives toll road fees

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo announced Monday that tolls on the Harris County Tollway have been waived as residents evacuate areas that are expected to be hardest hit.

7:34 a.m. — Officials encourage residents to make preparations to leave as storm surge concerns on coastal communities increase

Portions of Seabrook, specifically lower Todville from Red Bluff south to SH 146 and Baywood Drive, are most prone to storm surge and flooding.

The National Weather Services has issued a Hurricane and Storm Surge Watch for these areas with an anticipated two to four feet of storm surge in Seabrook based on the current track of Tropical Storm Laura. Due to the potential for storm-surge, the City of Seabrook determined it is in the best interest of the residents in the area to make preparations to leave.

7:30 a.m. — Galveston County prepares ahead of Tropical Storm Laura; mandatory evacuation ordered Tuesday

Galveston County Judge Mark Henry issued a disaster declaration for the area just hours after the city of Galveston issued a voluntary evacuation order ahead of Tropical Storm Laura. The voluntary evacuation has since upgraded to a mandatory evacuation as of Tuesday. Read more here.

Monday, Aug. 24

6:30 p.m. — Houston under Tropical Storm Watch

The city of Houston is under a Tropical Storm Watch with coastal portions of the city under a Storm Surge Watch.

“The City of Houston is working to coordinate its response to Tropical Storm Laura,” officials wrote in a release. “Mayor Sylvester Turner has ordered all City departments to prepare for a storm to impact our area. This includes working with the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) to have the information and resources they need to prepare for the storm’s arrival.”

6:15 p.m. — Tropical Storm Warning issued for Montgomery County

A Tropical Storm Warning was issued for Montgomery County, officials announced in a release.

“Tropical Storm Laura is expected to make landfall with winds at 105 MPH which would make Laura a Category 2 Hurricane,” officials wrote. “Confidence is beginning to increase in a track over Southwest Louisiana or far East Texas. We still cannot rule out a shift to the West; this would bring more severe storm surge and winds to Montgomery County.”

6 p.m. — KPRC 2 reporters are covering severe weather from Brazoria County to Louisiana. Here’s what they saw Monday

Workers board up shops in the French Quarter of New Orleans, Sunday, Aug. 23, 2020, in advance of Hurricane Marco, expected to make landfall on the Southern Louisiana coast. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Workers board up shops in the French Quarter of New Orleans, Sunday, Aug. 23, 2020, in advance of Hurricane Marco, expected to make landfall on the Southern Louisiana coast. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

With all eyes on the Gulf of Mexico and the two hurricanes brewing just a day apart, residents along the coast, from Louisiana to Brazoria County, are preparing for the worst. While the path of Tropical Storm Laura and Tropical Storm Marco remain uncertain Monday evening, residents and local leaders are taking preemptive measures to stay safe.

KPRC 2′s reporters visited areas all along the Gulf Coast to meet with officials and residents who spent Monday preparing for severe weather. See those videos here.

6 p.m. — Orange County issues mandatory evacuation order

Orange County and city officials announced a mandatory evacuation order for all of Orange County at 6 a.m., Tuesday.

“Citizens who cannot evacuate themselves can find transportation resources at either of the two embarkation sites in the county,” officials wrote in a Facebook post. “Evacuees can arrive at location at 9 am, Tuesday, Aug 25th, 2020.”

The two locations are Lamar State College Orange, 410 Front Street in Orange and Vidor Elementary, 400 Old Hwy 90 E in Vidor.

5:55 p.m. — Brazoria County judge issues disaster declaration

Brazoria County residents prepare as area under storm surge watch
Brazoria County residents prepare as area under storm surge watch

Brazoria County Judge Matt Sebesta signed a disaster declaration Monday ahead of the looming threat of Tropical Storm Laura.

“This Disaster Declaration was signed in the event of severe flooding, storm surge, and damaging winds due to tropical weather,” officials wrote.

4:30 p.m. — Astros to play a double-header Tuesday

With the potential impact that Tropical Storm Laura may have in the Houston area, the Houston Astros have made some changes to their schedule this week.

Thursday’s game between the Astros and the Los Angeles Angels at Minute Maid Park will be played on Tuesday as part of a double-header beginning at 3:05 p.m. These will be two 7-inning games. Read more here.

4:05 p.m. — Texas A&M mandatory evacuations

Texas A&M University announced that it was issuing mandatory evacuation orders for all students on the Texas A&M University at Galveston campus effective Tuesday.

3:30 p.m. — Galveston County judge issues disaster declaration; Galveston city issues voluntary evacuation order

Galveston County Judge Mark Henry issued a disaster declaration for the area just hours after the city of Galveston issued a voluntary evacuation order ahead of Tropical Storm Laura.

According to Henry, the declaration affects multiple areas including, Tiki Island, San Leon, Baycliff, Hitchcock, the Bolivar Peninsula and Galveston.

“Forecasts are showing the possibility of heavy rains, tropical force winds, and storm surge impacting our area,” Henry said in a press conference Monday afternoon. “This storm potentially presents a serious threat to the life safety and property of our residents.” Read more here.

3:20 p.m. — Anahuac ISD closes ahead of severe weather

The Anahuac Independent School District announced it will be closed Tuesday, Aug. 25 through Friday, Aug. 28 “due to the concern for the safety of our staff and students,” officials announced.

2:26 p.m. — Texas National Guard mobilized in response to Tropical Storms Marco and Laura

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Monday that more than 70 members of the Texas Army, Air National Guards and the Texas State Guard with the Texas Military Department (TMD) have been activated and are prepositioning throughout the state of Texas ahead of Tropical Storm Marco and Tropical Storm Laura.

“Multiple Texas Army National Guard ground transportation teams with high profile vehicles are currently moving to support local and state agencies,” the governor’s office wrote in a release. “Currently, UH-60 Blackhawks and UH-72 Lakota air crews have been alerted at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and San Antonio to assist with any emergency search and rescue or emergency evacuations. Additionally, Texas State Guard service members stand ready to provide assistance with local shelter and logistical operations in the affected counties.”

1 p.m. — ‘Be prepared’: Leaders urge Houston-area residents to prepare for landfalling hurricane as forecast evolves

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo speaks about storm preparations in Houston on Aug. 24, 2020.
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo speaks about storm preparations in Houston on Aug. 24, 2020. (KPRC)

Leaders from both Harris County and Houston urged residents in the area Monday to prepare for the landfall of a hurricane while keeping a watchful eye on the forecast.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner both emphasized that meteorologists are still trying to determine where Tropical Storm Laura will hit, but the current forecast has the storm tracking into southwest Louisiana as a Category 2 storm by early Thursday. Both Hidalgo and Turner said that’s just too close for comfort. Read more here.

12:30 p.m. — Brazosport ISD closing Tuesday through Thursday

Brazosport ISD will be closing Tuesday through Thursday (Aug. 25-27).

"Given the uncertainty of Tropical Storm Laura in the Gulf of Mexico, we have determined it is in the best interest of our students and staff to take action and close schools Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday," the district said on their website Monday.

The district said there will be no classes for virtual at-home learners or in-person learners on these closure dates.

12 p.m. — Mandatory evacuations for Port Arthur

Meteorologist at Harris County Flood Control District, Jeff Lindner confirmed to KPRC 2 chief meteorologist Frank Billingsley the City of Port Arthur will be ordering a mandatory evacuation effective at 6 a.m. Tuesday morning.

11 a.m. — Chambers County issues disaster declaration

The Chambers County judge has issued a disaster declaration for the area due to the imminent threat of tropical storms Marco and Laura.

According to official documents, the declaration was issued because "extraordinary measures must be taken to alleviate the suffering of people and to protect or rehabilitate property."

The declaration will take effect immediately and will last no longer than seven days, according to official documents.

10:30 a.m. — Coast Guard preparing

The Coast Guard is urging people to stay off the water as tropical storms Marco and Laura approach the Gulf Coast. Here are some tips they offered Monday:

Stay off the water. Hurricanes and tropical storms can be deadly and our ability to conduct rescues can be diminished or non-existent at the height of a storm. Be prepared, stay informed and heed storm warnings.

Be prepared. Owners of large boats are urged to move their vessels to inland marinas where they will be less vulnerable to breaking free of their moorings or to sustaining damage. Mooring lines should be doubled in case of high winds. Boats that can be trailered should be pulled from the water and stored in a place that is not prone to flooding. Those who are leaving their boats in the water are reminded to remove EPIRBs and to secure life rings, life jackets, and small boats. These items, if not properly secured, can break free and require valuable search and rescue resources to be diverted and may put first responders in harm’s way to ensure people are not in distress.

Evacuate as necessary. If mandatory evacuations are set for an area, the public should evacuate without delay. Coast Guard personnel and other emergency responders may not be able to evacuate or rescue those in danger during the storm.

Stay informed. The public should monitor the progress and strength of the storm through local television, radio, and the Internet. Boaters can monitor its progress on VHF radio channel 16. Information can also be obtained on small craft advisories and warnings on VHF radio channel 16.

RELATED: Texans hit stores to buy emergency supplies despite the uncertainty of tropical storms

10 a.m. — No major changes

The 10 a.m. NHC forecast is out and there have been no major changes in the track for Marco and Laura. Laura is still our primary concern as Marco is forecast to fall apart as it moves closer to Houston.