HOUSTON – Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo held a news conference Monday afternoon to urge residents to prepare for Tropical Storm Beta.
Hidalgo was joined by other Harris County officials including meteorologist and Director of Flood Operations, Jeff Lindner.
During the news conference, Hidalgo said Harris County residents needed to remain vigilant because Beta is a slow-moving storm and could bring flooding inland due to some bands of heavy rain.
“At any moment, anywhere in Harris County, we could see heavy rain and possibly flooding," Hidalgo said. “We could get 4 to 8 inches, and if it is spread out, we are OK. But, if we get 4 to 5 inches very quickly ... that could lead to bigger issues.”
Hidalgo said Beta will not compare to Harvey or Allison in terms of massive amounts of water being dumped across the area, but the bands could bring heavy rain to any given area and residents should be prepared whether they get hit or not.
The Harris County Emergency Operation Center is activated to a level three, which is increased readiness. Hidalgo said emergency responders and other organizations, like the Red Cross, are ready to step in where needed.
Due to safety concerns, Harris County public health testing sites will be closed Monday and could be closed Tuesday, but that has not yet been decided, Hidalgo said.
Hidalgo said people should not “sleep on potential impacts from the storm." Residents should take advantage of all the accurate information that is available to the public through local news and country resources, Hidalgo said.
“We have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to sources of trusted information that is weather-related,” Hidalgo said.
High-water traffic maps, maps of bayou levels and rainfall amounts are available at ReadyHarris.org, among many other sources, Hidalgo said. People can also text “Beta” to 888777 to sign up for local updates.
The judge also took the opportunity to remind people to be careful while driving.
“Remember, our streets are designed to collect water and convey it to our bayous and our channels ... so don’t tempt it by driving through high water,” Hidalgo said.
Hidalgo asked that people not drive through flooded areas, drive around barriers that have been put in place and to try to stay home once it gets dark.
She also reminded people that the region is still in the midst of hurricane season and to not let your guard down.
“Hurricane season is not done with us this year,” Hidalgo said. " ... even if we make it through this storm unscathed, there could be another one before this season is out, so build your kit and make a plan for evacuation."