GALVESTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Galveston County Judge Mark Henry issued a mandatory evacuation of the Bolivar Peninsula, as well as announcing suspension of ferry services from the area to Galveston Island. The suspension took effect late Tuesday night.
According to Henry, the suspension is based on wave patterns and high winds expected from Hurricane Laura, which prompted the National Weather Service to issue Hurricane and Storm Surge warnings from San Luis Pass eastward along the upper Texas coast.
Henry also added Clear Lake Shores, Jamaica Beach, La Marque and Tiki Island to the mandatory evacuation order.
Plus, a voluntary evacuation order was issued for Bayou Vista and Hitchcock.
The most recent statistics show more than 340,000 people live in Galveston County.
In the latest evacuation orders, the order is mandatory for residents in La Marque who live outside the levee ring. The evacuation order is voluntary for residents inside the levee ring.
In Dickinson and League City, the evacuation order is voluntary. The evacuation order for residents in Kemah is mandatory.
Earlier Tuesday, the city of Galveston began to order mandatory evacuations shortly after the storm was upgraded from a tropical storm and forecasts put it as a Category 3 storm upon landfall as early as Wednesday night.
Before that, Henry on Monday signed a disaster declaration.
"Forecasts are showing the possibility of heavy rains, tropical force winds, and storm surge impacting our area," Henry said. "This storm potentially presents a serious threat to the life safety and property of our residents."
Galveston County is one of 23 Texas counties for which Gov. Greg Abbott declared an emergency on Sunday.
The county has already cleaned debris from channels and underneath bridges and is positioning resources ahead of Laura's landfall.
County officials say they are concerned about storm surge and wind damage, especially along the Bolivar Peninsula. Henry said they are anticipating a three-foot storm surge or higher if the storm goes east at all.
Henry said the county has high water rescue teams on standby along with other federally sourced assets.
"The White House [staff] called us personally and said, 'We're here. Here's our cell phone. Call us if you need us,'" said Henry. "[They said] more importantly, if you have difficulties with FEMA, occasionally it occurs, let us know about that and we'll try to do what we can."
The county assets, according to Henry, are mainly road and bridge crews. He said for this event, they will most likely not be placed along the Bolivar Peninsula since they're anticipating flooding.
"They are housed at our main facility on Highway 3 and Dickinson," he said. "We'll probably stay there until the time comes for them to be moved out."
Similar to the Galveston County declaration, Brazoria County Judge Matt Sebesta also signed a disaster declaration.