Harvey's impact to East Texas: 3 to 4 inches of rain expected; local agencies prepared to help

Published on Friday, 25 August 2017 19:36 - Written by LOUANNA CAMPBELL, lcampbell@tylerpaper.com

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East Texas is expected to be spared the worst of Hurricane Harvey’s fury, but the powerful storm could bring 3 to 4 inches of rain to the area in the next week.

Hurricane Harvey, a Category 4 storm expected to make landfall near Corpus Christi late Friday, was expected to dump significant rainfall along the Texas Gulf Coast and inland as the storm moves ashore.

The primary threat to East Texas will be localized flooding, said meteorologist Davyon Hill of the National Weather Service in Shreveport, Louisiana.

Communities along the Gulf Coast, specifically the Corpus Christi and Houston areas, are at greatest risk of being impacted by the severe weather.

“My priority, as we prepare for Hurricane Harvey, is the safety of those on and near the Gulf Coast,” said Gov. Greg Abbott. “That is why I am strongly urging all Texans in Harvey’s path to heed warnings and evacuation orders from local officials before this storm makes landfall. My office is coordinating local, state and federal resources to prepare for and respond decisively to this storm - Texans must also take action and treat this storm seriously.”

LOCAL AGENCIES READY TO HELP

The Salvation Army of Tyler’s mobile kitchen is prepped and ready to serve about 1,500 people breakfast, lunch and dinner. The mobile canteen will deploy early next week, said community and public relations coordinator Haley Hoar.

“Locally, we are monitoring the situation and are in constant communication with our teams around Texas,” said Capt. Bobby Parker, corps officer at The Salvation Army of Tyler.

Several truckloads of emergency supplies, pallets of water, energy drinks, cleanup kits and shelter supplies have been dispatched to strategic locations along the Texas coast by Salvation Army teams throughout the state.

Seven Salvation Army mobile kitchens already have been stocked and deployed to serve in the immediate aftermath of the storm’s landfall in the Corpus Christi area. The agency has an additional 27 mobile kitchens on standby and ready to deploy.

The Salvation Army said the organization is currently in need of monetary donations for the continued effort and urged people to visit helpsalvationarmy.org or call 1-800-SAL-ARMY to make a donation.

The local chapter of the American Red Cross also is prepared to help in Harvey’s aftermath. The agency has placed several shelters on standby in case of flooding in East Texas or if evacuees from South Texas arrive in the area.

“We have a shelter at St. Louis Baptist Church in Tyler, Lifebridge Christian Center in Longview, two churches in Kilgore and another in Cherokee County,” said Tammy Prater, executive director of the American Red Cross East Texas Area.

Local law enforcement agencies also are at the ready if the call for assistance comes. The Tyler Police Department and Smith County Sheriff’s Office said they have not received word that they will be assisting in the evacuation or relief efforts, according to office and department spokesmen.

And the Department of Public Safety is assisting as needed with resources from across the state, working closely with the National Weather Service, local officials in the storm’s path, and state and federal emergency management partners to prepare for and respond to this storm.

OTHER PROVIDERS RESPOND

Tyler hospitals say they are ready to take in evacuated patients from the affected areas should the need arise.

UT Health Northeast spokesman John Moore said the hospital has been involved in conference calls with the Piney Woods Regional Advisory Council and the UT System regarding Hurricane Harvey.

Moore said the hospital is not expecting to take patients who have been evacuated, but they are ready if the need arises.

Christus Trinity Mother Frances Health System said they are preparing for the potential of having to take in evacuated patients.

The hospital is preparing space, stocking supplies and putting nursing and medical staff on standby, said public affairs manager William Knous.

Rebecca Berkley, spokeswoman for ETMC, said first responders from the medical center were dispatched to the area on Thursday, but they do not anticipate getting any evacuated patients.

Oncor crews from across Texas have been put on standby to restore power to the affected areas once the storm has passed.

“A crew from Tyler has been identified and they are ready to go when they receive the call to head to South Texas,” Oncor spokesman Charles Hill said.

Hill said Oncor crews consist of four or five people with two or three trucks.