JEFFERSON COUNTY, Texas — This article contains ongoing updates on Tropical Storm Laura, including weather-related closures and event cancellations and updates on evacuation orders. Here are some key updates for Thursday, August 27, 2020, as well as the previous day, August 26, 2020. You can find more details by scrolling through the story, which we are updating throughout the day and night. The newest items will be at the top.
Laura made landfall as a strong category 4 hurricane along the Texas-Louisiana border. Here's the latest forecast from the 12News StormTrackers team.
WHAT WE KNOW: Forecast cone and spaghetti models for Hurricane Laura
Aug. 27, 9:58 p.m. — Little Cypress-Mauriceville CISD will remain closed for the week of August 31 through September 4 due to 'significant damage' during Hurricane Laura. "With many staff and students without electricity we will not move to a virtual learning platform at this time," the district said in a Facebook post.
Aug. 27, 8:15 p.m. — West Orange-Cove CISD has announced plans to remain closed through September 4 'due to city utilities being out.'
Aug. 27, 4:56 p.m. — The Jefferson County Office of Emergency Management says its office "has just spoken with the office of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and there is NO cause for concern regarding the Bio - Lab Chemical Plant Fire in Lake Charles."
Aug. 27, 4:47 p.m. — Victims of Hurricane Laura can get water, snacks and cleaning supplies while supplies last by stopping at Orange Church of God, located at 1911 N 16th Street until 7 p.m. on Thursday, August 27. The American Red Cross will be there distributing those items. You do have to wear a mask if you'll be going to pick up these supplies.
Aug. 27, 3:49 p.m. — Newton County Judge Kenneth Weeks announced Thursday afternoon that the mandatory evacuation order has been lifted and a curfew order is now in place. Residents will need to be inside from 10 p.m. until 6 a.m. until the mandatory curfew is lifted.
Aug. 27, 3:30 p.m. —The City of Port Neches has issued a boil water notice for residents on Thursday.
Water should be boiled before use or consumption.The city is in the process of turning water back on across the entire system according to its website. The work will take several hours, and tests need to be performed as required by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality before the boil notice is lifted. If you need more information on how to boil water, click here.
Aug. 27, 1:30 p.m. — Entergy Texas said the company is being forced to begin periodic power outages as a last resort to prevent a more extensive, prolonged power outage which would affect the power grid's reliability.
Entergy said Hurricane Laura caused extensive damage to the transmission system in East Texas and West Louisiana and they anticipate high demand due to summer heat. Hurricane Laura damaged key transmission lines, conductors and transmission towers that bring power from the east.
The company is working with its operator to restore the system to normal as soon as a power shortfall would not threaten the integrity of the rest of the power system.
Entergy is also asking customers in the northwest part of Houston to voluntarily reduce their electricity usage.
You can reduce your electricity usage by:
- raising your air conditioner to 78 degrees
- using ceiling fans and portable fans
- closing blinds and curtains over your windows
- washing clothes, dishes and bathing late at night or early in the morning
Aug. 27, 1:45 p.m. — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said an aerial survey of southeast Texas showed the state's worst damage from Hurricane Laura was in Orange. While Hurricane Laura made landfall overnight as a Category 4 storm, Abbott said the storm surge in Texas was about 3 feet, much lower than anticipated. See his full statement here.
Aug. 27, 11:00 a.m. — The Emergency Rooms at CHRISTUS St. Elizabeth ER is now back to normal operations.
Aug. 27, 10:00 a.m. — Orange County officials want to notify residents that water is in the process of being turned back on in the area. Once the water is available, officials are asking residents to boil the water before consumption.
"To ensure destruction of all harmful bacteria, water for drinking, cooking, and for making ice should be boiled and cooled prior to consumption. The water should be brought to a vigorous rolling boil and then boiled for two minutes. When it is no longer necessary to boil the water, the water District officials will notify you that the water is safe for consumption."
Aug. 27, 9:50 a.m. — Texas Governor Greg Abbott will be visiting Orange County Thursday morning to survey from Hurricane Laura as well as meet with local officials according to a news release from the governor's office.
Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and Senator John Cornyn will be joining the governor.
Abbott is scheduled to hold a news conference from Orange County at 12:30 p.m. which 12News will livestream.
Aug. 27, 9:45 a.m. — H-E-B stores in stores in Southeast Texas remain closed until further notice as the company assesses each store. They are working to reopen as soon as possible according to a news release.
Includes these stores...
- Beaumont H-E-B Plus!
- Orange H-E-B
- Mid County H-E-B
- Beaumont 6 H-E-B
- Port Arthur H-E-B
- Lumberton H-E-B
- Groves H-E-B
Aug. 27, 9:30 a.m. — Hardin County will be terminating it's mandatory evacuation order as of noon Thursday according to a news release from Hardin County Judge Wayne McDaniel.
More than 10,300 Hardin County residents and businesses are currently without power with no ETA on restoral he noted in the release.
Many gas stations and most grocery, convenience and other businesses in the county are also still closed at this time he said.
Hardin County offices will remain closed through 5 p.m. Thursday with normal business hours to resume after that.
Aug. 27, 9:25 a.m. — Hurricane Laura has dropped to a category 1 storm as it moves north over Southwest Louisiana.
In its 9 a.m. update Thursday, the National Hurricane Center said the eyewall of Laura over northwest Louisiana with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph.
The storm, currently 65 miles south-southeast of SHreveport, is moving north at 15 mph and is expected to become a tropical storm later Thursday.
Laura will move across southwestern Louisiana this morning and then continue northward across the state through this afternoon. Louisiana recently reported a decreased wind gust of 70 mph as hurricane conditions spread more inland.
Aug. 27, 8:45 a.m. — Louisiana's Governor John Bel Edwards said he’s received a report of the first fatality from Hurricane Laura in Louisiana, a 14-year-old girl who died when a tree fell on her home. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is crediting the evacuations of thousands of people for preventing deaths in Texas. Edwards says they are only beginning to assess the damage.
Aug. 27, 8:15 a.m. — Hurricane Laura is located about 80 miles from Shreveport, Louisiana, as a category 2 storm, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Aug. 27, 7:30 a.m. — Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick terminates mandatory evacuation order for the county. Residents can head back to the county starting at 10 a.m., according to a Facebook post from the Jefferson County Texas Office of Emergency Management.
Aug. 27, 7 a.m. — The National Hurricane Center reported that Hurricane Laura was about 20 miles north of Fort Polk, Louisiana, as a category 2 hurricane. A storm surge warning is in effect for High Island, Texas, to the mouth of the Mississippi River and a tropical storm warning is in effect for High Island, Texas, to the mouth of the Mississippi River.
Aug 27, 5 a.m. — Laura weakened to a category 2 hurricane with 110 mile per hour winds. The storm continued moving north at about 15 miles per hour as of a 5 a.m. update from the National Hurricane Center.
Aug. 27, 4 a.m. — About two hours after Hurricane Laura made landfall in Southwest Louisiana more than 70,000 Entergy customers had lost power in Southeast Texas.
- Jefferson County 39,645
- Orange County 21,813
- Hardin County 7,966
Aug. 27, 1:12 a.m. — More than 15,500 homes and businesses are now in the dark due to power outages across Jefferson County. Orange County has seen 9,666 outages so far.
Aug. 27, 1:00 a.m. — The extreme wind warning has been extended for parts of Southeast Texas and Southwest Louisiana. It's set to last until 3 a.m. This includes Lake Charles, LA, Sulphur LA, and Orange due to "extremely dangerous hurricane winds."
Aug. 27, 12:15 a.m. — Power outages have already started across the Golden Triangle as Laura makes landfall. Jefferson County has already seen more than 5,000 homes and businesses lose power, while nearly 3,000 are without power in Orange County. Several dozen are without power in Hardin County as well.
Photos: Hurricane Laura
- Several Southeast Texas counties issue curfews ahead of 'unsurvivable storm surge' expected from Hurricane Laura
- Extreme wind warning issued for parts of Southeast Texas and Louisiana
- Louisiana officials closing down roads as Laura approaches land
Aug. 26, 11:45 p.m. — According to TxDOT, the Rainbow and Veterans Bridge access points in Port Arthur and Orange are now closed due to unsafe wind speeds.
Aug. 26, 10:57 p.m. — Beaumont, Port Arthur, Nederland and Lake Charles, Louisiana, are under an 'extreme wind warning' until 1 a.m. due to 'extremely dangerous hurricane winds.The National Weather Service says people need to treat this as "imminent extreme winds as if a tornado was approaching and move immediately to an interior room or shelter NOW!"
Aug. 26, 9:36 p.m. — "They're thinking Cameron Parish is going to look like an extension of the Gulf of Mexico for a couple of days," Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said Wednesday ahead of Hurricane Laura's landfall.
Aug. 26, 9:00 p.m. — I-10 is now closed in southwest Louisiana as Laura closes in on the coast. See alternate routes.
Aug. 26, 3:54 p.m. — Hardin County officials have put a curfew in place for residents. This means people will be required to stay inside their homes between 8 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. There are some exceptions. Read the order here.
Aug. 26, 4:12 p.m. — According to the City of Port Arthur, transportation for evacuation and the civic center 'are reopened only until 6 p.m.' If you need to evacuate, report to the Bob Bowers Civic Center.
Aug. 26, 4:00 p.m. — Port Arthur Police and the Port Arthur Fire Department will not respond to any calls for service once 'sustained tropical storm force winds reach the city.' Citizens are being told to stay inside and stay safe as the hurricane passes. Regular operations will resume once weather conditions allow.
Aug. 26, 2:35 p.m. — Buses are running again for evacuees in Port Arthur until 3 p.m. but no more residents will be able to catch them after 3 p.m.
Aug. 26, 2:20 p.m. — Two C-130 aircraft have been sent to Jack Brooks Regional Airport to provide a "last chance" to evacuate for 80 residents. The planes are not equipped for those with medical needs and only take 40 passengers each due to COVID-19 guidelines.
Once loaded the planes will fly to evacuees to the DFW area but will not be making a return trip.
The planes are on the ground now and awaiting passengers.
The planes are set to leave by 4 p.m. and may stop before that based on wind conditions.
Aug. 26, 1:20 p.m. — Bus evacuation transportation has halted and the Bob Bowers Civic Center is now closed according to the City of Port Arthur.
Aug. 26, 12:15 p.m. — 911 calls will continue to be answered throughout the storm, however some landline prefixes may experience trouble getting through according to the Southeast Texas Alerting Network, STAN.
Those prefixes are:
Aug. 26, 11 a.m. — Port Arthur Mayor Bartie issues a curfew order effective today, August 26, 2020. “...It shall be unlawful for any person to remain, walk, run, stand, drive or ride upon any public place in the city between the hours of 8 PM and 6 AM during this state of emergency,” according to the Port Arthur Police Department.
Aug. 26, 10:30 a.m. — Port Neches residents are under curfew starting at 10 p.m. Wednesday. "Mandatory curfew order for the City of Port Neches goes into effect at 10:00 p.m. tonight. It will remain in effect until rescinded," a statement from the city's Facebook page said.
Aug. 26, 10 a.m. — Tyler County issues mandatory curfew order between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. until further notice. Read more here.
Aug. 26, 10 a.m. — Vidor has issued a curfew order for city residents beginning Wednesday between the hours of 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. each day, and continuing until further orders are issued or this order is terminated. Any violation of this Order shall be punishable as a Class C misdemeanor, according to officials.
Aug. 26, 10 a.m. — The Cities of Orange, West Orange, and Pinehurst have issued a curfew from 9 p.m. until 5 a.m. beginning Tuesday, August 25, 2020 until revoked. "This is for the safety of our citizens and to protect our communities in dealing with Hurricane Laura," officials said.
Aug. 26, 10 a.m. — City of Beaumont issued dusk to dawn curfew ahead of Hurricane Laura's landfall, which is expected Wednesday evening through Thursday morning.
Aug. 26, 9 a.m. — Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick issues mandatory curfew from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. effective at 9 a.m. Wednesday.
Aug. 26, 9 a.m. — The floodgates on Highway 365 will be closing at 11 a.m., Wednesday, according to the Jefferson County Office of Emergency Management.
Aug. 26, 8:15 a.m. — Evacuations by bus in Beaumont will be shut down at 10:30 a.m. Those need transportation out of the are must be at one of the assembly sites or at Westbrook High School by 10:30 a.m.
Evacuation bus assembly sites
- West Brook High School (Evacuation Hub), 8750 Phelan
- Beaumont United High School, 3443 Fannett Rd
- MLK Middle School, 1400 Avenue A
- Smith Middle School, 4415 Concord
- Charlton Pollard, 825 Jackson
- Guess Elementary, 8055 Old Voth Rd
- Jones-Clark Elementary, 3525 Cleveland
- Lucas Elementary, 1750 E. Lucas
- Martin Elementary, 3500 Pine
- Pietzch-Macarthur Elementary Schools, 4301 Highland
Aug. 26, 8:15 a.m. — All residents needing bus rides out of the Port Arthur Area must be registered at the Bob Bowers Civic Center by noon to catch the last busses out of the area.
Aug. 26, 8 a.m. — Home Depot in Beaumont and Orange will be closing today a 12 p.m. and will re-open as soon as it is safe to do so.
Aug. 26, 5:30 a.m. — Hardin County Judge Wayne McDaniel urged residents in Southeast Texas to evacuate as Hurricane Laura continues to rapidly intensify and is now predicted to be a catastrophic category 4 hurricane at landfall along the Texas Louisiana state line.
"If you are still here, there’s still time to leave and you must do so now," McDaniel said in a Facebook post early Wednesday morning.
Hardin County officials will have buses at Silsbee Middle School for anyone who is unable to evacuate and has no other way to leave, but you must arrive between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m.
Buses are first come, first serve with preference for those who registered in advance. Residents can also bring a pet that can ride in a carrier in your lap.
"Buses will take you to a congregate shelter well out of harm’s way and will bring you back when it’s safe to do so," McDaniel said. "I cannot predict when that will be at this time. Please have someone drop you off at the school campus. Any vehicles left in the parking will be left there at your own risk."
"It appears many have chosen to stay and ride it out," he said. "I don’t blame you! However, seeing the new forecast this morning and the fact that it continues to look worse for us with each update, that is definitely not a good decision and waiting any longer could be a deadly choice for you and your family. Food, water, emergency services and other life safety resources will not be available to you for at least days. Electricity, water, sewer and other utilities will be out for weeks in many areas.
"We will once again recover and rebuild, but it will take a long time."
Aug. 26, 4 a.m. — Hurricane Laura is expected to be a category 4 storm when it makes landfall overnight Wednesday, according to NOAA.