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Galveston Officials Brace for Second Big Storm of 2017

As Harvey approaches, Galveston officials were bracing for their second big storm of the season.

On Thursday, Galveston was securing its City Hall and preparing emergency crews for high-water rescues should Harvey hit as a possible Category 3 hurricane when it reaches shore. The island will also shut down its trolley service over the weekend.

"While the track of this storm is still very uncertain, we do know that this will be a significant rain event for our entire area,” Niki Bender, emergency management coordinator for the city of Galveston, said in a statement.

These are the same precautions Galveston takes whenever a bad storm is approaching. But it's being especially proactive this time, particularly when compared to Tropical Storm Cindy, said Jaree Fortin, a city spokeswoman.

“There’s definitely more of a ramped up effort,” she said.

The city, predicting up to 15 inches of rain, issued a voluntary evacuation on Thursday for any west island residents with extra medical needs. That follows a mandatory evacuation on Wednesday from Texas A&M, which asked everyone to leave its Corpus Christi campus.

Evacuation orders continued to pour in on Thursday. As of press time, mandatory or voluntary evacuations have also been issued in Nueces, San Patricio and Calhoun counties, as well as in the cities of Corpus Christi, Rockport, Port Aransas, Aransas Pass, Ingleside and Robstown. (The situation is developing rapidly, so if you need to know whether you should evacuate, it's best to call your local authorities.) Dallas Morning News reports that some oil companies have also evacuated their Gulf Coast derricks.

Houston Independent School District has cancelled Monday classes. While Galveston schools plan to remain open, that could change as the storm moves closer, said spokesman Kyle Bolen.

“We haven’t made a decision yet,” Bolen said. “As soon as as we have any more information, we’re going to post it on our Facebook page and our website.”

Harvey is the eighth named storm of the 2017 hurricane season. So far, only one of those — Tropical Storm Cindy, in June — has affected the Houston area.

Cindy resulted in little more than strong rains and flooded beaches, with only two direct fatalities. Tourists on Galveston remained largely unfazed both before and after the storm, as Houston Press reported at the time.
But Harvey will be much stronger than Cindy. And a long line of bad storms, from Ike and Allison to the infamous 1900 hurricane, have taught locals these events can often bring tragedy.

Galveston has advice for anyone preparing for Harvey. The city says people should get their insurance information ready and take photos of valuables, in case any get damaged. The city also warns, that “it is illegal to push a wake with your vehicle.” So if you're forced to drive on a flooded roadway this weekend, make sure you’re not creating waves.
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Stephen Paulsen is a journalist and native Houstonian. He writes about crime, food, drugs, urban planning and extremists of all kinds. He covers local news for Houston Press and cannabis policy for Leafly.