Houston and Harris County officials say we're ready for major hurricane hit

Shelley Childers Image
Wednesday, September 28, 2022
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Forecasts for Hurricane Ian have pushed direct impact south of Tampa. But officials are still asking everyone who has evacuated to stay out.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Dire warnings from the sunshine state this week have rattled what was a quiet hurricane season in the Gulf of Mexico.

"This is going to be a storm like we have not seen in the past," Tampa Mayor Jane Castor said.

It is a reminder to us all that life on the Gulf Coast comes with a price.

Tampa has not seen a direct hurricane hit in more than 100 years. Now, folks like Houston-native Michael Childers, who moved to Tampa decades ago, are under evacuation for the very first time.

"You see that sky, the very, very ominous sky behind me," Childers said from Anna Maria Island's vacant beaches. "The beach is totally empty. Normally, this beach would be very, very crowded with hundreds, hundreds, maybe thousands of people out here."

Childers lives just south of Tampa in Bradenton. Authorities have asked more than 2 million people to evacuate from the west coast.

"We can relate to what those folks are going through right now," Harris County Meteorologist Jeff Lindner said.

Years of hurricanes and tropical storms along southeast Texas have certainly left their scar and, though we have remained nearly untouched the last two years, Lindner says Harris County is ready for a major evacuation.

"We all have plans in this area for how we would do evacuations by the zip codes. The coastal area evacuates first. If you're inland in Katy, Tomball, The Woodlands or Kingwood, you're not in an evacuation area," he said.

The city of Houston said that even with no current threat, they too have remained prepared, for sheltering tens of thousands of people.

"We have the water bottles. We have the cots that might be needed and then of course we have the community partners we work with to prepare food and water," Thomas Munoz, the city's Deputy Director of Homeland Security and Public Safety as well as the Emergency Management Coordinator, said.

Forecasts for Hurricane Ian have now pushed landfall south of Tampa.

Officials are still urging the millions who evacuated from the Tampa region to stay away, yet another inconvenient price to life on the Gulf.

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