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August 25, 2017 4:45:27 PM CST

HARRIS COUNTY RESIDENTS URGED TO FINALIZE EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS PLANS, MONITOR WEATHER

With the potential dangerous and life threatening rainfall expected from Hurricane Harvey, residents are urged to finalize emergency preparations today and start monitoring the weather conditions throughout the weekend. Residents are also strongly encouraged to remain indoors at home, and if traveling, pay close attention to road conditions on travel routes.

As of 2 p.m. Hurricane Harvey officially strengthened into a Category 3 hurricane. Forecasts continue to slow Hurricane Harvey as it nears the coast and moves inland. For Harris County, the threat remains widespread rainfall of 10-15 inches, with isolated higher totals and tropical storm force winds between 40-48 mph. Major flooding of Harris County bayous and creeks is very possible along with major to record flooding on some of the rivers over southeast Texas and the coastal bend.

A Tropical Storm Warning remains in effect from Matagorda, Texas, to High Island, Texas, including Harris County and Galveston Bay. A Storm Surge Warning is issued from San Luis Pass to Port Mansfield, Texas, including all inland bays and inlets. 

Rain bands have begun to move inland along the entire Texas coast sooner than expected, especially along the upper Texas coast. The threat for tornadoes will be increasing and a Tornado Watch will likely be issued shortly for the upper TX coast. The risk for tornadoes within the feeder bands will last over the next 24-36 hours and these will be fast moving with little warning time.

The Flood Control District's Flood Operations team continues to monitor the hurricane track and intensity trends, and took the following steps in advance of the storm:

  • Secured real time rainfall and stage gages near the coast that may be flooded from sea water.
  • Removed large construction equipment from bayous and channels.
  • Secured critical equipment at the Clear Creek Second Outlet Gates in Kemah.
  • For all construction sites, removed temporary low water crossings and stockpiled materials from within the channel.
  • Continued performing debris removal service requests.
  • Fueled Flood Control District fleet and work vehicles so that crews can respond appropriately as needed.
  • Implemented the HCFCD Flood Operations plan to include critical staffing through the duration of the event.
  • Continued preparations with Harris County Office of Emergency Management, the National Weather Service, and other core partners.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is monitoring the Addicks and Barker dams and reservoirs on an around-the-clock basis to ensure continued operations and integrity of the structures, which have protected greater Houston area residents against loss of life and property over the last 70 years. When a rain event occurs, the gates are closed on the Addicks and Barker dams to reduce flooding impacts to residents downstream. When downstream runoff recedes to non-damaging stages, reservoir operations resume, and the gates are re-opened, to release water back to normal levels. To learn more about the Addicks and Barker Dam Safety Program, visit www.swg.usace.army.mil/Missions/DamSafetyProgram.aspx. For more news and information, visit www.swg.usace.army.mil

The Clear Creek Second Outlet gates will be closed through the duration of the hurricane. Once conditions are safe, the Flood Control District crew will deploy to the site to assess any damages and open the gates. For more information regarding the Second Outlet gates visit www.hcfcd.org/projects-studies/clear-creek/second-outlet-channel-and-gated-structure/.

The Flood Control District's Flood Operations team has moved into standby mode ready to mobilize crews as events develop. The Flood Control District’s phone bank will remain open through the remainder of this event. Residents are urged to call with questions regarding flooding at 713-684-4000. The Flood Control District works throughout the year to provide flood damage reduction benefits to the communities we serve. So far in 2017, the Flood Control District has: 

  • Funded approximately $163 million for projects; $17 million allocated for maintenance projects and $146 million allocated for capital projects.
  • Completed 70 percent of the second of three mowing cycles for the year across 18,000 acres of flood control property.

Stay tuned and pay close attention to messages from emergency officials as this storm is quickly changing. Heed all advice given by local emergency officials. Evacuate only if you have been told to do so.

When flooding is imminent the following are steps YOU CAN TAKE TO PREPARE: 

  • Make sure you have an adequate water supply in case service is cut off.
  • Confirm your family emergency kit is complete and ready.
  • Contact your family members and confirm plan of action and alternatives.
  • Move emergency supplies and valuables to a high, dry place in your residence.
  • Locate and put pets in a safe place.
  • Your safest option is to stay put. However, if you must evacuate to a safe location or a shelter, take your emergency supply kit and tell your family check-in contact you’re leaving. Don’t drive through flooded streets.
  • Make sure storm drains and culverts are clear from debris. Clogged drains and culverts can prevent water from traveling to the bayous and tributaries, causing street flooding, and possible house flooding, depending on the amount of rain we receive.
  • Debris should NOT be discarded in areas bayous, streams and ditches. Debris should be put in trash bins and then brought inside into garages or backyards, away from drainage ditches and storm sewers.
  • Winds can cause trees and branches to fall; trim or remove damaged trees and limbs to keep you and your property safe.
  • In areas that normally experience flooding, move vehicles to driveways or in parking garages as the storm approaches.
  • Secure patio furniture and any loose items that may be picked up by heavy winds.
  • Take video of all your belongings and important documents in case they become damaged and needed for insurance claims.
  • Never drive into high water. Turn Around, Don’t Drown! Less than two feet of water can float and wash away a vehicle. Be especially cautious at underpasses and at night when water across roadways can be difficult to see.
  • The Harris County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management has disaster preparedness resources and the latest information about conditions in Harris County at readyharris.org. The Flood Control District has a “Family Flood Preparedness” center at www.hcfcd.org/famfloodprepare.html with helpful, printable resources and flood preparedness tips.
  • This flooding event is a reminder that all residents in this area should carry flood insurance. Contact your insurance agent for more information about purchasing flood insurance, or visit the National Flood Insurance Program at fema.gov/national-flood-insurance-program or call 1-888-379-9531. Please keep in mind that new insurance policies take 30 days to go into effect. 

The Flood Control District urges all residents to monitor rainfall and bayou water levels on its Harris County Flood Warning System website at www.harriscountyfws.org. It is important for Harris County residents to be aware of conditions near their workplaces, schools and homes. Stay tuned to messages from emergency officials-- distributed through the various media outlets. Be sure to also follow us on Twitter @HCFCD for live updates.

About the Harris County Flood Control District

The Harris County Flood Control District provides flood damage reduction projects that work, with appropriate regard for community and natural values. With more than 1,500 bayous and creeks totaling approximately 2,500 miles in length, the Flood Control District accomplishes its mission by devising flood damage reduction plans, implementing the plans and maintaining the infrastructure.