PORT ARTHUR, Texas — Officials in Port Arthur are asking people who live in Sabine Pass and Pleasure Island to evacuate if possible as Tropical Storm Beta is forecast to bring heavy rains to Southeast Texas this week.
Port Arthur Mayor Thurman Bartie reiterated in a Sunday morning news conference that the evacuation orders are voluntary, not mandatory.
Bartie said he wants to "respectfully request the voluntary evacuation of Sabine Pass and Pleasure Island. Those two areas in the city of Port Arthur happen to be our lowest lying areas."
He said storm surge is one of the greatest concerns right now, and that people should get to higher ground if they have the means to do so.
"It's a personal choice, each individual who is a citizen in the City of Port Arthur right now, it's whether you want to leave and go to higher ground," Bartie said.
He also asked that people make sure drain systems are clear before the storm moves in.
"What we're dealing with is a lot of rain, a lot of water," Bartie said. "The most important thing for the citizens of Port Arthur right now, if you have debris in the drain system in front of your property, we need you to clean that out. It is not the city's responsibility to come and clean out the drains on your property or in front of your property."
Bartie emphasized that things could still change due to the uncertainty of the storm's forecast.
He also reminded people to be mindful of COVID-19 and to continue to take the necessary steps to prevent the spread.
Port Arthur ISD cancelled in person classes for the week of September 21-25. All students will attend classes online. Sabine Pass ISD said classes will be held online Monday, Sept. 21.
Lamar State College-Port Arthur said on Sunday it is set to hold its regular classes for the week of September 21, but says it's still monitoring the storm for any changes in intensity or trajectory.