By JUAN A. LOZANO Associated Press
HOUSTON (AP) — Officials in South Texas, which has been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic in recent weeks, said they’re also prepared to handle any challenges from Tropical Storm Hanna, which was headed their way and expected to make landfall this weekend.
“And don’t feel like since we’ve been fighting COVID for five months that we’re out of energy or we’re out of gas. We’re not. We can do these two things together and we’re going to win both of them. And so, we’ll get through this,” said Corpus Christi Mayor Joe McComb.
Corpus Christi is in Nueces County, one of several COVID-19 hot spots in Texas. Officials in Nueces County said this week that 60 infants tested positive for the virus from July 1 to July 16.
Other counties in South Texas, including Cameron, where Brownsville is located, have also seen their hospitals and morgues fill up due to the pandemic.
Hanna was about 260 miles (420 kilometers) east of Corpus Christi, according to the 10 a.m. CDT advisory from the National Hurricane Center. It had maximum sustained winds around 45 mph (75 kph) and was expected to make landfall along the Texas coast, likely somewhere between Corpus Christi and Brownsville on Saturday.
The main hazard from Hanna was expected to be flash flooding, said Chris Birchfield, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Brownsville. Areas of South Texas could see anywhere from 3 to 8 inches of rain, with some parts possibly seeing up to 12 inches.
“We could be dealing with significant flash flooding across much of deep South Texas,” Birchfield said.
Nueces County Judge Barbara Canales said she was aware that the tropical storm would be another burden on top of the impacts from the pandemic in the county, which has about 362,000 residents.
Canales asked residents to remember their preparedness for such tropical storms along with “doing the thing that matters I think the most every single day inside the COVID-19 pandemic: Take care of each other.”
Officials reminded residents to wear their masks if they needed to get extra supplies at grocery stores or if they had to shelter with neighbors in case of flooding.
“It’s going to be difficult if you’re crowding in with another family to keep your social distancing up,” McComb said. “That’s going to be a challenge and we don’t want to exacerbate the COVID-19 by having to try and get together and protect ourselves during these weather events.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has announced that various resources to respond to the tropical storm are on standby across the state, including search-and-rescue teams and aircraft.
Some resources placed on standby in case of flash floods included search-and-rescue teams from Texas A&M Task Force 1, a statewide urban search and rescue group; boat teams from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department; and search-and-rescue aircraft from the Texas Department of Public Safety.
“Throughout the weekend, Texans should heed the guidance from local officials and remain vigilant against this severe weather to keep themselves and their loved ones safe,” Abbott said.