Officials to Harris Co. residents: Don't evacuate yet

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- While Harris County's forecast in relation to Harvey calls for heavy rain similar to Tropical Storm Allison, emergency management officials say it's not quite time to evacuate yet.

The sentiment is being expressed Friday as Hurricane Harvey is about to make landfall as a Category 3 storm or greater in the central Texas coast.

With forecasts calling for Harvey to linger over southeast Texas for as many as five days, crews with the county and the City of Houston have worked to clear out storm drains and set up barricades at common high-water spots.

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ABC13's Foti Kallergis explains why emergency management officials in Harris County are urging residents not to evacuate yet.

Houston officials are showing signs of frustration after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott urged anyone who can to evacuate before Hurricane Harvey arrives.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner on Friday tweeted "please think twice before trying to leave Houston en masse." His plea came shortly after Abbott held a news conference urging Gulf Coast residents to pack up and leave, whether or not their cities are under evacuation orders.

The spokesman of emergency operations in Houston's Harris County was even more direct. Francisco Sanchez tweeted: LOCAL LEADERS KNOW BEST.

No evacuation orders have been issued for Houston. The mixed signals between the Texas governor and local officials are emerging just hours before Harvey is expected to make landfall as a Category 3 storm.

Abbott has repeatedly suggested since Thursday that not enough people are evacuating. But state officials also say they have no count on how many people have actually left their homes.

Evacuating without a voluntary or mandatory order, according to the Harris County Office of Emergency Management, could have big impacts and could cause a mess on the roads.

"There are mandatory evacuations in place to areas to our south in Brazoria County and in Matagorda County and further down the coast. Those residents need to have open freeways to evacuate through our area," said Jeff Lindner, with the county's Flood Control District and the Office of Emergency Management.

"We do not need people inland evacuating the coast. We don't even need people in the Harris County portion evacuating the coast. We are not going to have that significant of a storm surge in Galveston Bay that you need to leave," Lindner added.

They do urge people to stay aware of updates coming from officials if an evacuation is being ordered.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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