Prepping for the storm, City crews prepare for impeding rains

Published 4:59 am Saturday, August 26, 2017

By Dawn Burleigh

The Orange Leader

Hurricane Harvey’s forecasted slow march through south Texas could result in record rainfall and insured losses. Harvey is expected to make landfall near Corpus Christi, which hasn’t seen a hurricane in 47 years.

Harvey is the first Category 3 hurricane to hit the Texas coast since 1970 when Corpus Christi was struck by Hurricane Celia, which had 130 mile per hour winds causing $453 million in insured losses. The costliest storm to ever hit Texas was the last hurricane to make landfall, Hurricane Ike on September 13, 2008, near Galveston.  Insured losses from Ike were estimated at $12 billion.

“We can only hope that 47 years of growth in and around Corpus Christi can withstand Cat 3 winds and a storm surge that most of the city’s residents have never seen,” Mark Hanna, a spokesperson for the Insurance Council of Texas, said.  “Besides the wind damage, the storm is also expected to cause major flooding along the coast and other parts of Texas.  This is why we remind Texas residents that flood insurance can be very valuable for persons living outside flood zones.”

Corpus Christi city officials have called for a voluntary evacuation for its residents. Mandatory evacuations have already been ordered for the nearby residents of Port Aransas, Aransas Pass, Rockport, Ingleside, Taft, Sinton, Portland and Gregory.

Coastal residents along the upper Texas coast toward Houston have been evacuating and traveling inland toward central and north Texas.  Major thoroughfares such as Interstates 35 and 45 are receiving heavy traffic in the hours leading up to Harvey’s landfall.

Weather forecasters expect Hurricane Harvey to stall at some point upon making landfall and possibly reverse its path toward the gulf.  This unusual weather event is expected to result in massive rainfall that could exceed two feet in some locations.

“We urge Texans to get to a safe location before the storm hits and hopefully avoid unnecessary travel until the rains and winds subside,” Hanna said.  “Most of the deaths from hurricanes result from drowning.”

With the anticipated heavy rains extending over the next few days, flood insurance will play a critical role in the post-storm recovery.  While flood insurance takes care of homes and businesses, comprehensive insurance coverage provides flood protection for your vehicles.  Comprehensive coverage is optional so check your policy to make sure you have the coverage in place.

“If your car or truck has been submerged in flood waters, drivers shouldn’t try and start the vehicle,” Hanna said.  “Starting a vehicle that has been under water may cause more damage and result in the vehicle becoming totaled.”

City of Pinehurst and Orange County Drainage District were spotted throughout the area cleaning out waterways to endure proper water flow with the anticipated rain.

City of Pinehurst Public Works crew were in the Harding Addition on Thursday cleaning ditches of leaves and debris.

“We are cleaning out some of the bad areas we have in preparation of the hurricane,” John Toney, Pinehurst Public Works Director, said. “Some of the ditches have not been touched in years. The leaves and debris build up preventing water flow.”

The crew was working on an area on 40th Street when they discovered a blockage to a tie in to a county drainage ditch.

“We cleaned it out and got it flowing again,” Toney said. “Hopefully, it will help prevent flooding.”

In other preparations, the city also drained a retention pond so excess storm run off would have someplace to go.

The crews continued working long after residents headed home from work.

They continued clearing out drainage ditches near Whataburger and Big Lots.

“I commend the city crews,” City of Pinehurst City Administrator Robbie Hood said. They were working very hard along with emergency management coordinator. When weather is at its worst, that’s when our city employees are at their best.”

While Lamar State College – Orange announced cancelling classes scheduled for Monday, August 28, and Tuesday, August 29, other local school districts are monitoring the situation and will make a decision at a later time.

At press time, Orange County remains under a Flash Flood watch with the north west side of the county under a Flood Warning.

Orange County is anticipated to see 15 plus inches of rain on Saturday, according to the National Weather Service Lake Charles.

Hurricane Harvey, expected to be a category 3 or 4 hurricane when it makes landfall on the central Texas coast Saturday morning, will weaken to a tropical storm on Sunday, before slowly moving up the upper Texas coast early next week. It is too early to know for sure if it will move offshore, or stay inland as it moves up the Texas coast next week.

Hurricane Harvey continues to strengthen and is expected to make landfall on the central Texas Coast as a category 3 hurricane. Orange County is currently preparing for extended rain and possible flooding that may last for several days. Officials will continue to monitor this situation closely and will keep Orange County residents updated with the most accurate information as it becomes available.

Orange County residents are encouraged to closely monitor the situation by visiting the National Weather Center or the National Hurricane Center online at and

Orange County Officials have NOT called for an evacuation at this time, but want to urge all Orange County citizens to be prepared, according to a press release.

The primary concern for Orange County currently is the extended rainfall and possible flooding in the days ahead. Officials in all surrounding areas are consistent in asking citizens to take extra precautions with regards to this extended rainfall and the threat of rising waters.