Aug 27, 2020
Greg Abbott Press Conference Transcript August 27: Hurricane Update
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott held a press conference on August 27 to provide updates on Hurricane Laura. He was joined by Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz. Read the transcript of the briefing here.
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Governor Greg Abbott: (00:00)
Here today, I especially want to thank Senators Cornyn and Cruz for taking the time to join us today and being part of the aerial overview that we were able to take to get a better assessment of the entire region, as well as to work with us here on the ground. I also want to thank the two local area congressmen, one for this district, Congressman Babin and adjacent district Congressman Randy Weber, as well as Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, and State Senator Nichols and local representatives Phelan and Deshotel. Thank all of them for being here, particularly want to thank your County Judge. Judge, thank you for hosting us and for being with us. And it’s been a pleasure, if you want to put it that way, working with you through this.
Chief Kidd: (00:54)
Well thank you for being here.
Governor Greg Abbott: (00:55)
Of course. And Mayor who I think is here or there you go, Mayor, thank you for being here.
Governor Greg Abbott: (01:01)
And I want to express a special thank you to the Admiral for providing the Coast Guard that provided a very helpful tour of the entire region. As we flew around the region at about 1000 feet, we could see the way that the storm impacted different areas differently, and I’ll be candid with you, of all the areas that we saw, the worst that we saw was Orange. It seemed like the most significant damage I was able to observe both from the sky, as well as on the ground, in this region is in Orange. You saw more rooftops ripped off, you saw more shingles missing, you saw more trees down, you saw big pieces of steel framing wrapped around some trees, you saw some roads that were still inundated under water, impassable at this particular time. And that’s just what I was able to see either from the sky or from driving down a street. Obviously as people get closer and look at buildings or homes, there will be additional damages that people have to deal with.
Governor Greg Abbott: (02:20)
That said, as I ask everybody how they feel about working their way through this hurricane, everyone pretty much had the same phrase and that is we dodged a bullet. It could have been far worse. We were anticipating, and it was prognosticated, that there would be a storm surge that could very easily exceed 10 feet. I was told earlier that the storm surge was about three feet and that seven foot differential means all the difference. We would not be gathering here right now had we seen a 10 foot or higher storm surge in this region like what was anticipated earlier. And so when you consider the magnitude of the damage that could have occurred here, we did dodge a bullet. Now that of course doesn’t help those whose homes have been hit. Those whose businesses have been hit. And for those people, we want them to know that we are already working on the process of helping them rebuild.
Governor Greg Abbott: (03:29)
We have a very important person here, the man on the end, most important person in the room, his name is Tony Robinson. Tony Robinson is with FEMA. And he worked very collaboratively with me and my administration from the time of Hurricane Harvey all the way until today. And Tony, we thank you and your leadership. And I was telling both Pete Gainer, Pete Gainer is the head of, or the Administrator of FEMA, and I told the President. Never before, in my experience as Governor, have I ever seen an administration that responded as swiftly and as effectively as what President Trump and Administrator Gainer have done this time, and we really appreciate their tremendous effort.
Governor Greg Abbott: (04:13)
Some details I want to get into. One is, as you may now want to clarify, I have declared a disaster in 62 counties and the President has similarly declared a disaster in each of those counties. Hurricane Laura made landfall near Cameron, Louisiana, about 30 miles east of the Texas-Louisiana border at 1:00 AM as a Category Four storm hurricane. Winds exceeded 80 miles per hour and the storm surge was an estimated 2.5 to 3.5 feet at the Sabine Pass area. Texas Point National Wildlife Refuge had about 74 mile per hour sustained winds, with gusts up to almost 90 miles per hour. Port Arthur, you could see was less. It was 38 miles per hour sustained winds with gusts up to 51 miles per hour. Orange County Airport, winds sustained at 29 miles per hour with gusts up to 54 miles. And Beaumont Regional Airport, 59 mile per hour sustained with gusts up to 66 miles per hour.
Governor Greg Abbott: (05:25)
Tree damage has been reported in Jefferson County, as well as the other surrounding counties around this region. I hear from some reports that we would expect to see even greater tree damage as you go further up north into East Texas. Other damage reports will be coming in during the course of the day. We do have teams in this region already, whether it be search and rescue teams, law enforcement teams, the National Guard, assessment teams that are covering every city, every county, every region to make damage assessments, but also to go about the process to determine the safety of everybody who lives in this area. And so I do want to get one confirmation, Chief Kidd. Now I have from you that Interstate 10 is currently closed at the Texas, that’s not true
Chief Kidd: (06:28)
Check with the highway patrol. It’s open all the way to the border on the Louisiana side of the border. They knew we had some damage and we’ll have to check the Louisiana side. But we were open all the way through to the border.
Governor Greg Abbott: (06:37)
I-10 is open all the way to the border.
Governor Greg Abbott: (06:41)
By the way, and I did have the opportunity to speak with Governor Edwards of Louisiana this morning. And he was his typical jovial self and was ready to be offering help to Texas. So he’s in good spirits and I know that the people of Louisiana now are dealing with challenges themselves right now and Texas and Texans stand ready to help our neighbors over in Louisiana. Several state agencies, including the Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Task Force One, the Texas Parks and Wildlife, as well as the Texas Military Division are scouring every aspect, every zone of all of the affected areas to provide search and rescue capabilities as needed. We will continue that process until we know for a fact that there is no person who is unaccounted for.
Governor Greg Abbott: (07:37)
As of now, there remain more than 160,000 power outages throughout the entire Texas region affected by Hurricane Laura. We have almost 8,500 people who were provided shelter throughout the state with more than 3000 hotel rooms sheltering evacuees. Sheltering operations are occurring in Bear County, Ellis County, Tarrant County, Travis County, and Harris County. And those efforts will continue as long as needed. One very important point here and that is one thing that saved lives was evacuation orders that were made by local officials. And it was so important for local residents to heed those local warnings and by people getting out of harm’s way at an early time, that’s one of the reasons why the loss of life was minimized as well as the damages were minimized. I do want to emphasize, however, just as people listen to local officials in knowing when to evacuate, it’s equally important to listen to the local officials about when it is a good time to return. If you have no power, if there are other challenges on the ground, there will be different parts of a particular county that will have different levels of operability.
Governor Greg Abbott: (09:10)
And so it’s very important to continue to listen to local officials about when is the best time to come back as well as what are the challenges may be existing in any particular county. One thing that we are continuing to look at is we stand ready to watch and respond to potential flash flooding as well as potential tornadoes as the storms continue to go through the exiting process of exiting the state of Texas. I have one report, unconfirmed, about a death in Sabine County. Know that that is completely unconfirmed, but my point is this: that is the only report that I received at all about any potential loss of life.
Governor Greg Abbott: (10:03)
… that I received at all about any potential loss of life. If we make it through a category four hurricane that ripped through the coastline all the way up to the Texarkana area, and we have been able to have minimal or perhaps no loss of life. That is a miracle. It shows that prayers were answered. That so many people cared so much about the neighborhood and that preparation paid off. And so I applaud the local officials for being so effective as they prepared their regions for the oncoming hurricane. I applaud what they were able to do to stabilize their communities in ways that led to saving lives and saving property and will lead to a very quick recovery. One of those local officials is your County Judge to whom I would like to turn the mic over to at this time.
John Gothia: (11:02)
Well Governor, thank you. I this dodges the bullet. Definitely fits what we feel here in Orange County as a whole. At probably about 2:30, three’oclock this morning, it probably felt across Texas a huge sigh of relief as that things started going east.
John Gothia: (11:20)
Now with that sigh relief was also some sadness that it was going to our neighbors. We hate to see it go there and we’re going to do all we can to help those folks just as they came over and they helped us during Harvey and Imelda. Louisiana turned out in force to help us secure our folks over here from the flooding. I’d like to thank you for your efforts and all the stuff that you’ve done, all the phone calls between us, and talking about what we needed here, and you’ve responded extremely well. Thank you for that. At the state level, that’s so important that whenever we ask for those resources and you respond with those resources, Chief Kidd, as well everybody.
John Gothia: (11:57)
We’ve had a lot of benefit talking to all the ones that are standing behind us throughout this, that without that support we can’t support our citizens, which is our goal, is to make sure that we’re giving them the support they need so that they can be safe. They did heed the warnings to evacuate. And I got to think a whole lot of that is due to the fact that our local city officials, as well as city mayors, and managers, that we all worked together. Our local counties, that we have a good six county region that we work all together in. And so when we put out evacuation orders and different orders that we do it as a team, and that that consistent matches goes across our communities. And I think that’s just a huge benefit. And I think that helps the citizens understand what we’re trying to do, and they trust it when they hear it coming from everybody.
John Gothia: (12:42)
So that was our goal as we move through the storm. And then once we knew that we weren’t going to get the storm surge within, of course, we started focusing on what the wind damage was going to do. And we didn’t get the 140 mile an hour winds, thank goodness. But we still got enough winds that we have some damage.
John Gothia: (12:56)
So this morning our assessment teams went out as soon as it got daylight to get out safely. They’re out and our first goal was to get them on the roadways to find out what clearance we need to get on roads, because we knew that people are going to want to get back into town, back to their homes, and back to their businesses, and so they were doing that. We should have those reports soon so that we can assess what we need to move to the next day.
John Gothia: (13:16)
And that has a two fold approach. Number one is it lets our citizens come back safely, because it’s one thing to not get hurt in a hurricane, but we don’t want you to get hurt coming back either, because even though there’s trees and stuff there’s some of those haven’t completely fell yet so you got to be cautious. We got to be careful moving around.
John Gothia: (13:33)
But we also know that we have a lot of assets here that we may not need, but our neighbors will. And we want to be able to get to them as soon as we know that we’re clear here, we want to be able to have that ability for you to send those assets over there and help our neighbors. Because like I said, they’ve always helped us again.
John Gothia: (13:47)
Again, thank you for everything that you’ve done. Thank you to the city mayors and the managers throughout Orange County, because we work together and without them, we come up with good solutions as a team, and that’s what we try to do, but thank you.
Governor Greg Abbott: (14:00)
Of course, the Mayor next. Come on up. Got you right here.
Larry Spears Jr.: (14:07)
Thanks. I’d like to thank everyone for coming out. This has been a tremendous show of support from all of the representatives, from all of the senators, from all the different organizations here across the State Of Texas. This is truly a remarkable situation that there has been not one loss of life for the City Of Orange and for surrounding counties. And so I want to thank my emergency management coordinator, Ms. Leanne Brown, my fire chief, our police chief, my city manager, Mike [Koontz 00:14:36], all of city staff for working diligently to evacuate our citizens.
Larry Spears Jr.: (14:41)
It’s not always about our policies, and procedures, or ordinances. It’s about loving people, and loving them where they are for who they are. And that’s what we stand for here in the City Of Orange, Texas. So I want to thank you Governor for your support. It’s definitely a pleasure to meet you as well as all these other fine gentlemen up here. And I look forward to continuing to work with you in the near future. And God bless you all for your support.
Governor Greg Abbott: (15:03)
Thank you mayor. Now I’d like to invite Senator Cornyn up.
John Cornyn: (15:13)
Well, Judge, we celebrate with all of you this wonderful news that we’ve dodged a bullet, but we know this won’t be the last one. And one of the things I’d like to think distinguishes Texas from some of the rest of the country when they experienced natural disasters is the level of cooperation and coordination by different parts of the government. There’s obviously a role for everybody to play at the local, the state, and then the federal level where Texas congressional delegation is working.
John Cornyn: (15:47)
But what are the rules of thumb I go by is the five Ps: Prior preparation prevents poor performance. And I should add another P, Judge, practice, because you’ve had a lot of practice. But I just want to congratulate you and commissioner’s court in stepping up on this project that Senator Cruz and the Texas delegation has worked on, enhanced the levy system and storm surge system in this part of the state. There’s a lot of attention given to the Ike Dike, which is very important, and that’s certainly a priority. But we’re one step closer as a result of your leadership and county commissioners stepping up to the deal with that enhanced levy system that will cover 27 miles and in Orange County, but also help some of the surrounding counties to deal with this in the future. So congratulations and thank you.
John Gothia: (16:42)
Governor Greg Abbott: (16:43)
Thank you, Senator. Now, Senator Ted Cruz.
Ted Cruz: (16:47)
Well thank you, Governor. And I will say Texans all across the state, Texans here in Southeast Texas are breathing a giant sigh of relief right now. This hurricane could have been much, much worse. We just completed an aerial tour of the region and the damage is much more contained than prior hurricanes have been.
Ted Cruz: (17:13)
And obviously our hearts are heavy for our neighbors in Louisiana, and we toured some of that damage as well. The damage in Louisiana is significantly greater, but given the magnitude of this storm, it could have been so much worse. And there were a whole lot of prayers that were lifted up across Texas, whole lot of prayers across the country, and we saw prayers being answered. But we also saw a testament to the leadership we have in the state at the local, at the federal level.
Ted Cruz: (17:47)
One of the realities in Texas when it comes to hurricanes is this was not our first rodeo. We have experience with natural disaster. And at this point we have county judges, and mayors, and state officials, and federal officials who have come together and dealt with tragedy from Hurricane Harvey, to Imelda, to Rita, to Ike. We’ve seen the devastation that can come from natural disasters and then we’re grateful that this one didn’t bring that same level of magnitude.
Ted Cruz: (18:19)
But one of the reasons that we limit some of that damage is because we have such terrific cooperation at the local level, the state level, the federal level, all of us have been talking to each other, talking to the Governor, repeatedly, talking to the White House. Yesterday, I talked to the Secretary Of Homeland Security. You’ve got the federal government, state, and local, all working hand-in-hand.
Ted Cruz: (18:44)
And for those who were impacted by this, there will be resources and support, and support also from the community: from the churches, from charities. I’ve got to say at this point, every time we face a disaster or even a disaster somewhat averted, I’m inspired to see how Texans step up and help each other. How Texans help their neighbors, help them out of harm’s way, help clean up the mess, and help them get back on their feet.
Ted Cruz: (19:12)
And, Judge, it’s powerful to hear, but it’s exactly the Texas spirit, that even though there are folks hurting here, that one of the first thoughts is we’re going to help our neighbors in Louisiana, because I think that’s who we are as a state and that’s who we are as a nation.
Governor Greg Abbott: (19:28)
Thank you. Now we’ll come up your local member from the United States Congress and that is Brian Babin.
Brian Babin: (19:34)
Thank you, Governor. I really appreciate it. Thanks for being here.
Governor Greg Abbott: (19:41)
Brian Babin: (19:42)
When the chips are down, you bring your team. And like we just said, well this is not our first rodeo. Orange County is born the brunt of a lot of hurricanes. Our County Judge, and his commissioners, our mayors over here in Orange County have done a bang up job. And this won’t be the first time I’ve-
Brian Babin: (20:03)
Have done a bang up job, and this won’t be the first time I’ve worked with Tony Robinson either. Everybody in this room that’s a hurricane veteran, raise your hands. Just about everybody here. Our law enforcement, our first responders, just want to say thank you. It’s been something that people, when they say you have an unsurvivable 20 foot storm surge, and you’ve got 150 mile an hour winds, a category four, a lot of people evacuate. I evacuate. I got out late last night and came back in this morning. And I can tell you that it was very… I can’t say I take great pleasure in looking because I saw a lot of roofs off, a lot of damage out here, but let me tell you something. For what we’ve seen in the past, we have definitely dodged a bullet. And so I just want to say thank you for you being here.
Brian Babin: (20:56)
Thank you to all the folks that have worked hard and we really appreciate it. God bless you. I’ve got a lot of kinfolks. Babin’s a Cajun name and I’ve got lots of kinfolks over there across the Sabine River and they’ve come over here and helped us numbers and numbers of times. And so this will be an opportunity for us to go over there and help them.
Speaker 5: (21:16)
Brian, if you’re Cajun, you’re serving lunch?
Brian Babin: (21:20)
Well, my wife knows how to cook that stuff. I guarantee. We’ll have that arranged.
Governor Greg Abbott: (21:25)
Speaking of neighbors, we’ll bring up your neighboring Congressman Randy Weber.
Congressman Randy Weber: (21:31)
Well, thank you Governor. I don’t have a lot to add. I’m here to support. We’ve got District 14 to the East, and since Brian’s doing lunch, y’all are all invited. Just want to make that clear. We need a name for our great Texas spirit. We had the Cajun Navy come in during Harvey. How many of y’all remember that? And so that was an embodiment of the spirit of neighbors helping neighbors. In fact, I coined a phrase back then. They did things we didn’t think could be done, governor. I called it Cajuneering. And so we did a phrase for Texas, whether that’s Texas tough folk or whatever, I’m there to support with hats off to all of you.
Congressman Randy Weber: (22:04)
I’ve watched our great Governor, our great senators, our great delegation come together, FEMA, the county people, the local people, cities, and I tell you what, my first hurricane was in 1961, Hurricane Carla. I was eight years old. I’m almost as old as Dr. Babin, And so I don’t want to out him there, and I’ve been through a lot of hurricanes. I’ve never seen this much coordination. I’ve never seen this much FEMA help. Thank you, Tony, for jumping in, the President being ready to jump in, the Governor working with the President, with the locals. We’ve got it going on in Texas. We know how to handle these hurricanes. Lord, are you listening? We don’t need no more practice. So I want to say thank you to all for all of you done. Our first responders, we really think the world of y’all. We really love being in Texas. We really love what’s happening right here right now because of the love poured out and the help we’re going to get. Thank you all very much. We appreciate it.
Governor Greg Abbott: (23:01)
And now coming up is someone who helped both in the preparation for the hurricane, as well as someone who will be heavily involved in the response, is Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick.
Lt. Governor Dan Patrick: (23:16)
Thank you, Governor. As everyone has said, no one does this better than Texas. No one works better together than government at all levels. And you always prepare for the worst and you hope for the best. This time with some exceptions for sure, the best turned out. I think it underscores the importance of the Ike Dike, coastal spine, whatever name you want to give it. And actually I want to yield my time to your great Senator Robert Nichols, who does a fabulous job. This is his area. He drove down this morning. And Robert, if you’d like to say something.
Senator Robert Nichols: (23:56)
I wasn’t expecting to, but I’ll be happy to. I watched this last night, like I’m sure most of y’all, on the news, and at midnight I was listening to the mayor came on the TV. And he said, “The Lord is watching over Orange,” and he did. And we had amazing cooperation as everyone has said through all of the agencies, city, the county, and staff. And I’m very proud to represent you. And thank you, Governor, for being here. Thank you.
Governor Greg Abbott: (24:30)
Of course. We’ll call up your local state representative, David Phelan.
David Phelan: (24:37)
Thank you, Governor. I appreciate it. Thank you all for being here. I just want to thank Chief Kidd for having a plan. The plan works. We’ve getting used to that plan down here and it happened during COVID, and we were able to follow all the CDC guidelines and evacuate and hopefully come back, come back stronger as usual. One sobering fact. Last night I was watching the news. I was reminded that the Gulf of Mexico is the warmest body of water on the planet right now, which means we’ll use that plan again probably before the season’s over. So local law enforcement, mayor, county judge, thank you all so much. And I echo that to Jefferson County as well with Judge Branick and all the EOCs. They just did a phenomenal job. And it was a well oiled machine, unfortunately, because we just got so good at this. Thank you all again for being here and I appreciate the support.
Governor Greg Abbott: (25:30)
And then your neighboring representative, Representative [inaudible 00:05:33].
Speaker 1: (25:33)
Oh, thank you, Governor. Thank you for coming so quickly as you always have in the past when we’ve had these emergencies. We’ve got to work together with this crew, and Chief Kidd is just right there. He even calls me to say, “Do you need anything?” I mean, that’s really a coordinated effort. As everyone has said, this is a group that has worked well together and it benefits our community greatly. Thank you.
Governor Greg Abbott: (26:00)
Thank you. And then last is the Chief of the Texas Division of Emergency Management, Nim Kidd.
Nim Kidd: (26:05)
Thank you, Governor. Mary, your words are very powerful this morning. Two words I’d like to add to it, courage and leadership. And I want to thank you and the judge for the courage and the leadership. It is not easy to make the decision to mandate an evacuation. State law in Texas puts that squarely on the responsibility of your mayor and your county judge. There’s a lot that goes into that planning, that decision making process. It is always the right decision to have a coordinated and orderly evacuation when faced with the circumstances they were faced. With my hats off to you. We’re here to support you. We had a great plan. We had a good response. We will have a swift recovery. And as Chairman Phelan said, we’re not out of hurricane season yet. This is not the time to high five and go home. This is the time to double down and get ready for the next one.
Governor Greg Abbott: (26:48)
Very good. We’ll take a few questions.
Speaker 2: (26:53)
Governor, could you talk a little bit about preparations for the next storm, talk about the Ike Dike, any other coastal protections for our communities?
Governor Greg Abbott: (26:58)
First when it comes to preparation, we need to always replicate what we did this time. Preparation means acting in advance. And under the leadership of Chief Nim Kidd, as well as an entire team. We had previously staged National Guard, Texas Division of Emergency Management, Texas Task Force One, as well as the Texas Parks and Wildlife officials, as, as well as lining up 15,000 people who can restore power to the region. And the list goes on.
Governor Greg Abbott: (27:33)
The key was getting people like that located in advance and prepared, but also it was working in collaboration with local officials, and having the local officials make the key decisions, and then supporting those decisions and assisting them. And always doesn’t matter what type of storm, when it’s going to happen whether it’s today, or next year, next decade, that type of combined planning in advance is what always leads to better results. As it concerns things like if you want to call it the coastal spine, the Ike Dike, whatever, we’ve had meaningful conversations about that just today, and someone who knows a lot about it is Senator John Cornyn. Senator, would you want to say more about it at this time, or so, feel free, if not…
John Cornyn: (28:20)
Just briefly. The Ike Dike is perhaps the best known storage storm surge protection and it certainly is very important, but unfortunately is a very complex process for a very sophisticated storm surge barrier. But the Army Corps of Engineers is not scheduled to release their proposed plan until March of 2021, and then it’s really up to local officials and state officials to say what they want in terms of that plan, and how to implement it, and then it’s up to Texas delegation to support that plan. I would just repeat that we are close to turning dirt over, Judge, right?
Speaker 3: (29:05)
John Cornyn: (29:05)
On a $3.9 billion storm surge protection plan, which with the good work of the Lieutenant Governor and the Texas legislature and the Governor, hopefully will allow Orange County to benefit from an additional, I think basically 27 miles of an enhanced levy system which will help. So Ike Dike is important, report from the Army Corps of Engineers on March 21, but in the meantime, we’re ready to start turning over dirt on that enhanced levy and storm surge system right here in Orange County.
Governor Greg Abbott: (29:38)
Great. Next question.
Speaker 4: (29:39)
Governor, what’s the next 24 to 48 hours look like for this community?
Governor Greg Abbott: (29:45)
For all of the communities impacted, first and foremost is to continue to assess whether or not any lives are at risk. Saving lives is job number one and we will have teams the entire effected region, making sure that every life-
Governor Greg Abbott: (30:03)
… of teams throughout the entire effected region. I’m making sure that every life is safe. Then clearing pathways, such as roads. I’ve heard some information, not yet confirmed, that some roads are blocked off either by water or by trees. And so we need to clear roadways so people and emergency vehicles can get through and a power line repair trucks can get through things like that and then restoring power. So it’s step-by-step returning communities to a sense of normalcy. And then beginning today, really, but accelerating in the coming days is what you typically see after a hurricane. One is getting prepared for debris removal and the other is assessing the extent to which damages may qualify for FEMA relief, if not using other strategies to make sure that the relief that’s needed is provided.
Governor Greg Abbott: (30:51)
We do strongly urge everybody who has any insurance, please call your insurance agent today, tomorrow. Call very quickly. That’s what they’re there for is to make sure that they will respond to your insurance claims. Did you want to add to that, looked like you did.
Speaker 6: (31:09)
No, no, no. I’m good. I hear you’re covering it all.
Governor Greg Abbott: (31:13)
But that’s what it looks like.
Speaker 7: (31:17)
[inaudible 00:31:17] power in certain areas [inaudible 00:31:20]
Governor Greg Abbott: (31:19)
I’ll let Chief Kidd answer that.
Chief Kidd: (31:22)
So the power companies are out doing assessments right now, power that goes typically from the generation station or the power plant on the high and heavy transmission lines, those take the longest to repair. They’ll assess those damages. And when you have your high voltage transmission lines, you can be several days before they get that infrastructure rebuild. Power coming from the distribution station to the house is it’s usually faster to go up. So they will be working on several of those at the same time. Very important though, for people that are without power, please do not use a gas power generator inside your home. Carbon monoxide is the number one killer of families whenever it comes to times like this. So be very careful about how you’re powering your home. If you do not have power and again, another excellent reason to listen to your local officials appointed as safe to come back. They are the closest to the ground of where the work is being done. We will know best of when it’s time to open back up and allow people to come back inside.
Chief Kidd: (32:15)
[inaudible 00:32:15] I would not say we’re talking weeks yet. I think we need to wait until the power companies come back and give us the assessments of the timeline. But everybody up here is committed to make it go as fast as humanly possible.
Speaker 8: (32:26)
Governor, COVID’s obviously that’s still a big issue. Can you talk about anything that you guys have learned [inaudible 00:32:33] COVID and a hurricane at the same time?
Governor Greg Abbott: (32:35)
So we prepared in advance of dealing with covet in a hurricane before Hurricane Hannah. And so this was our second experience of dealing with both a hurricane as well as COVID. And there were several strategies that were used both times. Different from hurricanes in non COVID times, we did the best we could to have families who had to evacuate locate in hotel rooms as opposed to large congregate settings so they would not be in a setting where they would more easily transmit COVID-19, to assist evacuees as well as to assist local communities. We provide a tremendous amount of additional PPE, hand sanitizer, things like that. For people who were located to other regions. If I understand that correctly, they were provided if needed a COVID-19 test, is that correct?
Speaker 9: (33:25)
Yes. Governor Abbott, where we have a congregate shelter, we will make COVID testing available in that shelter.
Governor Greg Abbott: (33:29)
So everyone in a congregate shelter will have access to a COVID test to make sure that they had not been exposed, but strategies that we’ve learned have proven to be effective. Because if you look in the aftermath of Hurricane Hannah through the Nueces County, Corpus Christi region, all the way down to the Rio Grande Valley, three weeks after that, the number of people testing positive as well as the number of hospitalizations began to decline. So it showed that the people in those regions handled well, the combination of COVID and a hurricane, and I have no doubt the same will be true here.
Speaker 10: (34:09)
Governor, and as far as evacuees that we’re transporting by city governments and the [inaudible 00:34:18] outside the county now in these shelters, how will they know, how do they get back? What’s the plan as far as returning to home? And obviously when it’s safe, you come home, but how will you all do that?
Governor Greg Abbott: (34:28)
Sure. I’ll have Chief Kidd answer that question.
Chief Kidd: (34:30)
Yes. So thank you for letting us get this message out again. When the local officials make the decision that it is safe to come back, the same transportation methods that were used to evacuate will be available to return or repatriate those citizens back to their homes. It’s just a flipping of the process. It’ll be the same buses or however we moved them will be the same way that we bring them back. And it will be important that they pay attention to their local government websites and in communication on their Facebook pages, because that’s where they’ll know that it’s safe to come back.
Two more questions.
Speaker 11: (34:59)
Any rescues, any fire fallout, law enforcement action, [inaudible 00:35:04] hospitalization.
Governor Greg Abbott: (35:05)
I’ll turn to the mayor and the judge here.
Speaker 12: (35:07)
Last night after the cutoff time, when the winds reached a certain level, we did not want to send our officers and first responders out into inclement weather. We had a few that called in the midnight hour, but we weren’t able to respond to that. Since then this morning we have not received, but maybe one or two, that were having problems with breathing and things of that nature. But the biggest issue is that right now, no loss of life, that’s the greatest thing. And I think I thank my Lord and savior Jesus Christ, because without him, none of this was possible. So thanks. I praise God for what he did for us.
Last one. Great. Thanks everyone.
Governor Greg Abbott: (35:52)
Thank you all.
Speaker 6: (35:52)
Thank you again. Like I said, having a good team helps.