Hurricane Nicholas: SE Texas leaders urge residents to 'stay off the roads' as storm moves in

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- As Hurricane Nicholas moves closer to the Texas coastline, officials across the Houston area have told residents to stay off the roads as the storm moves in.

Officials in the Houston area said the possibility of our area seeing flash flooding is their main concern.

HOUSTON



Mayor Sylvester Turner told Houstonians in a tweet, "Help yourself out and help us out and plan to be off the roads by sundown [Monday]."



During a news briefing on Monday, he reassured the city is as ready for this storm as it could be for any storm.

"This is not a new experience for those of us who have lived in this city for quite some time. We know what to do when these events come," Turner said. "Every system, every weather event is different. No storm is the same. But our preparation, in large part, remains the same each and every time."

Houston Police Chief Troy Finner also urged residents to "use common sense and stay off the road."

Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña echoed Turner's advice to stay off the roads but also advised Houstonians to be aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide.

"In addition to the rain, we are expecting significant winds. If we have power outages and you are using generators, please ensure that those generators are at least 20 feet from your home and that the exhaust is not pointing into the homes," Peña said. "Carbon monoxide is odorless, colorless, but it is lethal. Please be cautious."

Leaders already warned residents about possible street flooding as the system moves in.

If you notice barricades on the road, officials say do not ignore them. It's best to just turn around.

WATCH: HFD 'better prepared' for Tropical Storm Nicholas-related rescues
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Houston Fire Department said it is better enhanced to handle high-water rescues from Tropical Storm Nicholas. However, they urged people to remain at home.



According to Turner, 43 barricades had already been placed around the city in preparation for street flooding. The barricades are for everyone's protection. Finner pleaded that you should not try to move them or go around.

"Please do not move the barricades. They're there for a reason and the most dangerous time on any storm and when it's flooding is at night," Finner said. "We say it all the time, turn around, don't drown. Everybody in the city, let's be safe and stay at home if you don't have to be out."

Available high water equipment from multiple agencies has also been distributed all across the city in preparation for the storm.

Turner addressed residents and the possible severity of the storm.

"Just because you don't hear 'Hurricane', it could be a system developing in the Gulf," Turner said. "And, with what we have seen, these systems can really accelerate very, very quickly."



Houston Public Works and all other departments have been activated to respond to a severe weather emergency.

Public works officials already lowered Lake Houston by one foot ahead of incoming rain, but are prepared to lower it even more if necessary."

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WATCH: Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner provided an update on the city's preparation efforts ahead of Tropical Storm Nicholas.



All shifts of call takers at the Office of Emergency Management have been brought in to prepare to respond to calls as quickly as possible, Turner said.

He also added that CenterPoint Energy crews are prepared to tackle any outages that may come with the storm.

HARRIS COUNTY



In a Monday night update, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo thanked residents for being off the roads as authorities saw a decrease in traffic. But urged those who are still out and about to find a safe place indoors.

Despite some changes in Hurricane Nicholas, Hidalgo reminds people that this is not over.

"The heavier rains aren't expected to come in until later [Monday] night, we could still see impacts on our roads, and even structures," Hidalgo said. "We can't let our guard down."

County officials are operating with all hands on deck in anticipation of the hurricane's arrival. While less rainfall expected, Hidalgo added that the wind is going to be a bigger factor.

"That could mean sustained winds of 40 MPH. Gusts of 50 MPH. That means falling tree limbs. It means some power line failures, perhaps a downed fence," Hidalgo added.

The Harris County Pct. 4 Constable's Office is also preparing for possible flooding. They're deploying all high water rescue equipment and personnel across the area.

In response to power outages, Hidalgo said CenterPoint Energy is on standby ready to make repairs if needed.

Due to the storm, Harris County is closing all COVID testing and vaccination sites through at least Tuesday.

County officials are continuing to monitor the area, and will provide updates when sites reopen.



SEE STATE PREPARATIONS: Gov. Abbott orders increased readiness ahead of Tropical Storm Nicholas

GALVESTON COUNTY



In a 6 p.m. update, the county said it is not expecting threats that would require mass evacuations. Officials added that they are not expecting widespread power loss.

Below is the county's full statement:

"There are a number of factors that go into those decisions. Right now, we are not expecting widespread power loss. We're also not expecting any portion of the county to become isolated from resources. In addition, we're not expecting imminent threats to life safety that would require mass evacuations"

Rain was falling Monday morning as the water in Galveston became more choppy with the storm swell and increased wind speeds.

Galveston County Judge Mark Henry is urging everyone to continue to pay attention to the latest forecasts and updates from local officials.

The city and county prepared for the storm all weekend.



The county brought high water rescue vehicles to the area, and deputies who were working at the border are headed to the area to help.

Officials say the county's emergency management team is fully staffed and ready to go.



Mark Morgan, the emergency management coordinator for the City of Galveston, is reminding everyone the importance of making sure your property is secured ahead of the storm.

"Right now, if you live in a low lying area, out on the west end, we're going to have coastal flooding with the tides. Just be aware if you've got things outside," Morgan said. "If you have property, you don't live on the island, please come to the island and secure your properties. We want to make sure that those properties are secured in the event that we have some winds stronger than presently predicted."

Officials have already put road barriers out in areas known to flood.

FORT BEND COUNTY



Fort Bend County Judge KP George and other county officials provided an update about tropical storm preparations Monday morning.

According to George, the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management has been closely monitoring potential impacts to the area.

As of Sunday at noon, the Joint Information Center is activated and fully staffed to handle any situation that could arise.

"It is heavy rainfall and a flash flood warning at this point in Fort Bend County that is a concern because we have a very flat terrain," George said. "That is absolutely a concern for our Office of Emergency Management."

Fort Bend County is among the southeast Texas communities that are under a Flash Flood Watch through Tuesday evening.

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WATCH: Fort Bend Co. judge provides update on tropical storm prep



"We are anticipating Nicholas coming through our area, but we don't expect severe conditions as of now," George said. "This always can change when it comes to any weather situation. You absolutely should be prepared."

Residents are strongly urged to sign up for the county alert system. You can text "FBCALERT" to 888777 to sign up for the alert system.

Fort Bend County deputies are prepared to put barricades out if street flooding occurs. The sheriff's office will be providing all updates when it comes to road closures.

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