Residents running out of time to evacuate, Galveston Co. judge says

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Thursday, August 27, 2020
Galveston officials concerned for residents on Bolivar
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Galveston County Judge Mark Henry is concerned for residents on Bolivar as Laura approaches.

GALVESTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Galveston County Judge Mark Henry told residents in the area their time to evacuate is running out as Hurricane Laura continues to intensify.

The county's office of emergency management said it is monitoring Laura and is working with all local, state, and federal partners to prepare for possible impacts.

On Tuesday, Judge Henry issued a mandatory evacuation of the Bolivar Peninsula, as well as announcing the suspension of ferry services from the area to Galveston Island. The suspension took effect late Tuesday night.

Tuesday's suspension was 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 Tuesday's orders, the evacuation was mandatory for residents in La Marque who live outside the levee ring, but 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.

SEE ALSO: Galveston becomes ghost town as residents evacuate ahead of storm

Meanwhile, in the city of Galveston, Mayor Pro Term Craig Brown said the city has been working for a couple of days preparing the city's infrastructure. First responders rescheduled their activities to be prepared for any possible rescue efforts.

"Currently the city of Galveston does not have any plans to provide a checkpoint at the causeway, we're going to leave that open. If it moves and we don't receive a lot of damage with the storm, then we're going to welcome our residents back tomorrow morning," Brown said during a briefing on Wednesday. "If we have concerns, we may set up that check up as citizens come back."

Earlier Tuesday, the city of Galveston began to order mandatory evacuations shortly after the storm was upgraded from a tropical storm.

"We know we're going to take a hit from this hurricane, we just don't know how hard," Brown said on Wednesday.

WATCH:Galveston mayor says the island is prepared for Hurricane Laura

While many residents left the city, others stayed put.

"We wish you had evacuated, but if you have elected not to do that, please be safe. Shelter in a place that you're safe. And we told all of our residents that we may not get emergency services to you because of the conditions that may come from this hurricane," Brown said.

Along with the mandatory evacuation, Galveston also issued a curfew that expires Friday, Aug. 28. Anyone who violates that curfew and is out on the road for any reason other than evacuating,could face up to a $1,000 fine.

"The curfews were put into effect to provide security and safety to individuals that stay on the islands, and security to the homes and infrastructure of those that left," Brown said. "We feel this city needs to be kept safe, even though there's not a lot of people here right now, the curfew gives (officers) more support as they try to force orders and check on people."

PREVIOUSLY: Galveston officials issue voluntary evacuation for residents not protected by seawall

Galveston County is one of 23 Texas counties for which Gov. Greg Abbott declared an emergency on Sunday.

READ MORE: Gov. Abbott adds 3 more TX counties to disaster declaration