HOUSTON — Tropical Storm Marco is bearing down on the Louisiana coast and could have impacts in Southeast Texas, and Tropical Storm Laura is picking up steam and the new tracks have it also having an impact in Texas.
To clear the way for help, Gov. Greg Abbott on Sunday declared a state disaster to assist Texans affected by the storms. Abbott announced Monday morning that FEMA had approved the declaration.
TROPICS UPDATE: Get the latest on Laura and Marco here
"Texas is grateful to President Trump and our partners at FEMA for quickly granting this Federal Emergency Declaration," said Governor Abbott on Monday. "As Tropical Storms Marco and Laura head towards the coast, the State of Texas is working with local and federal partners to ensure our communities have the resources they need to respond to these storms."
The state disaster declaration was issued for 23 counties, including all coastal surge counties, plus Bexar County, which will be for staging and sheltering.
The following counties are included in the disaster declaration: Aransas, Bexar, Brazoria, Calhoun, Cameron, Chambers, Galveston, Hardin, Harris, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson, Kenedy, Kleberg, Liberty, Matagorda, Newton, Nueces, Orange, Refugio, San Patricio, Victoria, and Willacy
Gov. Abbott is also asking President Donald Trump to declare a federal emergency for the 23 counties, which will help the state meet emergency requirements.
The number of counties may change, depending on the paths the storms take.
"As Hurricane Marco and Tropical Storm Laura approach Texas, the state is taking necessary precautions to protect our communities and keep Texans safe," said Governor Abbott. "I urge Texans in the path of these storms to plan ahead and heed the guidance of their local officials. The State of Texas is working with local and federal partners to monitor these storms and provide the resources our communities need to respond."
Abbott said that, among other personnel and services from various agencies, the Texas Military Department is mobilizing more than 800 personnel. The Texas Department of Emergency Management has ordered 100 buses to arrive at the Alamo Regional Command Center on Sunday and the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) has ordered 50 ambulances and medical support personnel.
The National Guard is also providing shelter and disinfection teams, along with mobile testing squads, to make sure any shelter and evacuation is done so safely amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
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The state health department has also identified two current COVID-19 facilities that can be converted into medical shelters, one in San Antonio and one north of the Houston area, to make sure that "we will be able to continue to provide for the needs of anybody who may have COVID challenges," Abbott said.
Abbott has also been in contact with both the regional director and head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), both of whom have "committed to work collaboratively with Texas to make sure that we have everything that we need to respond to these oncoming hurricanes."