AUSTIN (KXAN) — Governor Greg Abbott, alongside Texas Division of Emergency Management Chief Nim Kidd, gave an update on the state’s storm preparations at 3 p.m. Saturday, ahead of Hurricane Hanna making landfall in Texas early Saturday evening.
Hanna has become the first hurricane in the Atlantic Basin for 2020 and is on track to make landfall Saturday afternoon. Hanna will be the first hurricane to hit the Texas coast since Hurricane Harvey back in August 2017.
Abbott explained the state is working to make sure Texas can respond to both the hurricane and COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Texas Department of Public Safety has 390 personnel staged to respond. They are providing four helicopters, two search planes, six rescue boat teams and can also assist in security operations in the regions affected by this,” Abbott said.
In addition to typical emergency weather resources, the governor said the Texas Military Division will be sending 17 mobile testing sites to the affected area.
“We will be responding in the way that we typically respond to a hurricane. But on top of that, we will be responding in ways that respond to the COVID challenges, and that includes these military division-operated testing teams to make sure that we will be able to continue to provide the COVID-19 tests that are needed to help secure the region from the spread of COVID-19,” Abbott said.
That also includes sanitation efforts.
“The Texas Military Division will also be working to sanitize shelters where people may be sheltering in place, in a way similar to the way that the Texas Military Division sanitized nursing homes, to do everything they can to eliminate any type of COVID-19 germs in the shelters that people may be seeking safety in,” Abbott explained.
Kidd said anyone who is able to evacuate the area can head to Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio. There, people will be directed to a hotel within the city to keep with social distancing efforts.
“The Freeman Coliseum, how we used to use that as a shelter reception hub, will now be a hotel reception hub. So we spoke with a vice president of the American Red Cross last night; they’re providing hotel vouchers. If they run out of vouchers, we will contract for hotel rooms. But the idea is you come and check in at the Freeman Coliseum, and then go to your hotel, not go to a shelter unless you have a medical need,” Kidd said Saturday.
Kidd added the San Antonio City Manager confirmed with him there are plenty of rooms available.
Abbott is reminding all Texans to take both the storm and pandemic seriously.
“Do not in haste, take action that could cause you a family member or loved one to lose their life in the coming weeks to COVID-19 by disregarding all of these practices that we’ve become accustomed to using, such as wearing a face mask as you respond to COVID-19, maintaining distance where possible and most importantly, avoid gatherings of more than just a few family members,” Abbott said.