Galveston County judge says ferry to cease operations tonight ahead of storm

Residents urged to leave now

Voluntary evacuations underway in Galveston's West End

GALVESTON, Texas – Several mandatory and voluntary evacuation orders have been issued for cities and areas inside Galveston and Galveston County ahead of Hurricane Laura.

Here’s what we know right now:

Galveston County

The voluntary evacuation order issued Tuesday for residents of Bolivar Peninsula, including unincorporated areas of Port Bolivar, Crystal Beach, High Island and Gilchrist has been upgraded to a mandatory evacuation.

“The reason for that is that (the National Weather Service) is now forecasting between 5 and 8 feet of water to be over Bolivar at some point,” Galveston County Judge Mark Henry said.

Henry announced that ferry service will be suspended starting at 11:30 p.m., so people need to get out while they have time. If residents wait, they only way off the peninsula is by driving toward the storm

According to Henry, the Port of Galveston is also closed for operations and workers have been relocated to a safe location.

The judge said Tuesday that a new voluntary evacuation order for the Bayshore areas of unincorporated Galveston County, which includes San Leon and Baycliff. Henry also issued a voluntary evacuation order for the Freddiesville area along Highway 6.

People who need help evacuating can contact 409-766-2322, which is a non-emergency where people can register for help evacuating.

The state positioned 50 buses in Texas City to help people evacuate.

Henry said several other areas are in the city and county are expected to issue more orders as the storm nears the coast.

Among those is La Marque, which is under a mandatory evacuation outside of their levee system and a voluntary evacuation inside their levee system. People can contact the city of La Marque for more information on the evacuation orders.

Kemah has also issued a mandatory evacuation order. Dickinson and League City are under a voluntary mandatory evacuation order with an emphasis on low-lying areas, Henry said.

According to Henry, the good news is that the storm is relatively small compared to Ike and it is going to be mostly a wind event. However, people are still urged to take it seriously.

“We fully anticipate Bolivar being cut off from the rest of the world for a period of time,” Henry said. “... We don’t have the resources to go door-to-door and pull people out of their homes. We are giving you the best information that we have, telling you this is not going to be a safe condition.”

Henry said people should take the warning seriously and evacuate while there is still time.

“You are most likely going to be cut off. You are most likely going to lose power. You are most likely going to be very uncomfortable for a period of time,” Henry said. “...We do not have the ability to rescue you. The conditions that make it unsafe for you to be there, make it unsafe for us to try to rescue you. We will get there as quickly as we can once the storm passes.

Watch the full Galveston County update:

🔴WATCH LIVE: Galveston County Judge Mark Henry gives another update on Hurricane Laura, evacuations and more. MORE:

Posted by KPRC2 / Click2Houston on Tuesday, August 25, 2020

City of Galveston

After issuing a voluntary order Monday, the city of Galveston upgraded the order to mandatory on Tuesday. All residents were asked to secure loose items on their property and leave the island.

During a news conference Tuesday, Galveston Mayor Pro Tem, Craig Brown echoed many of Henry’s sentiments.

He said the city has been tracking Hurricane Laura for four days and because of various imminent threats, he decided to issue a mandatory evacuation.

Brown said the city has been planning for the storm for several days and is ready to handle the emergency, including helping residents evacuate to Austin on buses.

As Henry mentioned, the buses were staged in Texas City and can help 1,000 residents get off the island. While Henry said he only knows of one resident in the county who has registered for help, there are about 900 people in the city who have registered, Brown said.

“From what I can tell ... the residents of Galveston are taking this very seriously,” Brown said. “Many of the residents have already made plans to leave, or if they haven’t left, will be leaving pretty soon.”

Brown said the area may start seeing effects from Hurricane Laura Wednesday around noon in the form of a surge and high winds, “so, we want to make sure that everybody has time to get off before the effects of the hurricane start coming ashore.”

“I think the main thing is we want to make sure that those residents who need to be off the island and all the other residents who want to leave (can get) off the island,” Brown said.

According to Brown, the city has prepared will by cleaning out storm drains and preparing the water and wastewater treatment plants.

The city has also been working with CenterPoint and Texas Gas to do what they can to keep utilities going, Brown said.

Like Henry, Brown said that it is still important to take things seriously and get out while people can because rescuers may not be able to get to those in need once the storm starts.

“Our goal is to have these individuals evacuate and that is the key,” Brown said. “We have told residents who are not evacuating that they understand that we may not be able to get emergency services to them because we may not even be able to get our first responders out if the conditions are too bad.”

You can read more about this and other evacuation orders here.

About the Author:

Daniela Sternitzky-Di Napoli has been a digital news editor at KPRC 2 since 2018. She is a published poet and has background in creative writing and journalism. Daniela has covered events like Hurricane Harvey and the Astros World Series win. In her spare time, Daniela is an avid reader and loves to spend time with her two miniature dachshunds.