Houston Area Leaders and Schools React As Tropical Storm Nicholas Zooms Toward Texas

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner addressed Tropical Storm Nicholas Monday from Houston's emergency center.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner addressed Tropical Storm Nicholas Monday from Houston's emergency center. Screenshot
As Tropical Storm Nicholas barrels toward the Gulf Coast, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner gave a brief update on the city’s preparations for what’s expected to be a heavy rain event that could cause significant flash flooding in parts of the greater Houston area.

Meanwhile, several local school districts responded quickly to the rapidly changing forecasts and announced early dismissals and class cancellations ahead of the impending nasty weather, and Harris County COVID-19 test and vaccination centers have already announced storm-induced closures.

Houston ISD announced Monday morning that while all of its campuses will remain open for the day, all district after-school and sporting events will be cancelled Monday afternoon as of 5 p.m. due to Nicholas. All HISD classes — both in-person and virtual — have also been cancelled on Tuesday, and all district offices and campuses will be shut down as Nicholas arrives in the Houston region.

Earlier Monday morning, Fort Bend ISD announced all of its schools will dismiss early Monday. Early dismissal times are 11:35 a.m. for high school campuses, 1:25 p.m. for middle schools and 12:10 p.m. for elementary schools.

FBISD also announced all of its own after-school activities will also be cancelled Monday, as will the school board meeting scheduled for Monday night. All FBISD classes will be cancelled Tuesday as well.

Addressing the media at the city of Houston’s emergency response center, Turner said the city expects Nicholas to dump more water than high-speed winds on the Houston area.

“Our primary concern is tonight and tomorrow, tomorrow morning, and probably through the day tomorrow, “ Turner said Monday. “So I’m going to certainly encourage people to kind of finish up what they need to do before sundown.

"I’m going to certainly encourage people to kind of finish up what they need to do before sundown.” — Mayor Sylvester Turner

tweet this
“If you don’t have to be on the road later on this evening, please don’t. Finish up what you’ve got to do,” he continued.

Turner said that for now, all city employees are expected to report to work Monday, but that he’d decide later this afternoon whether or not to send employees home early or to only call in essential employees to work on Tuesday.

The city Public Works department has already deployed 43 barriers at roadways expected to flood as of Monday morning, according to Turner. He also said no major delays or flight cancellations have been announced at either George Bush International or Hobby Airport. “Now, that’s subject to change," he said. "The airport is more capable of dealing with rain events. What makes things a little bit more problematic is when there’s wind.” METRO bus and train schedules still remain the same for now, but Turner said those schedules are also subject to change as weather conditions worsen later Monday night and Tuesday morning.

Turner said CenterPoint Energy representatives have informed him that “about 2,000 customers” were without power Monday morning. “They have ramped up and are ready to go if additional power outages should occur between now going until tonight [and] tomorrow, so I feel very good about the preparation that has been made on that front to work to restore people’s power as quickly as possible,” Turner said.

Harris County Public Health announced late Sunday night that all of the county’s COVID-19 vaccination and testing sites will be closed both Monday and Tuesday. “Residents are encouraged to be prepared with enough food, water, and emergency supplies to last a few days in case the weather is severe,” the county health department’s announcement read. “People also need to prepare their homes by bringing in objects from their yard or balcony that wind or flooding could pick up.”

Turner mentioned that a recent National Weather Service report said greater Houston could see isolated spots of tornado-level winds, but that forecasts still indicated Monday morning that Nicholas will mostly be a heavy rain storm. Nicholas is also expected to move more quickly through the Houston area than previously expected, according to a Monday morning update from Space City Weather’s Eric Berger.

When asked if there were specific parts of the city Turner was most concerned about flooding, he first mentioned “the southern end of Houston, closer to the coastline.”

“But based on the report we’ve seen from the National Weather Service, the rain could come all over the city of Houston,” he warned. “So whether you’re on the south side, whether you’re to the north of I-10, all of those areas we’re concerned with. If you get two to three to four inches of rain, for example, in an area, you’re going to face flooding. And those two to three to four inches of rain could come in the south, southwest, you just don’t know.”

“Mother Nature will do what Mother Nature does,” Turner said.
KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Schaefer Edwards is a staff writer at the Houston Press who covers local and regional news. A lifelong Texan and adopted Houstonian, he loves NBA basketball and devouring Tex-Mex while his cat watches in envy.
Contact: Schaefer Edwards