BEAUMONT, Texas — Nicholas strengthened into a Category 1 hurricane late Monday night and is set to make landfall early Tuesday morning.
Officials across Southeast Texas have been preparing for the storm by upgrading drainage systems, giving out free sandbags, sending out storm survival information and more.
On Monday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a disaster declaration proclamation for 17 counties including Jefferson, Jasper, Chambers, Orange and Galveston.
“The state of Texas began preparing for this days ago, making sure that we were mobilizing all the supplies and support and resources that were needed by all the different local officials in all the various regions,” Abbott said.
Orange County Judge John Gothia and Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick said a disaster declaration was inevitable.
“I mean, you know, we've been through this several times,” Gothia said. “I mean, this is not our first time to do this.”
Orange County officials are taking steps to upgrade the city's drainage systems to minimize any flooding issues, by having public crews work on improving the major drains and outlets.
The goal is to steer water into rivers and lakes. City officials said the water will still build up during heavy rains, but with the improvements they have made, the water will drain much faster.
Beaumont, Nederland, Port Arthur, Port Neches and Orange County city officials prepared ahead of Hurricane Nicholas and had free sandbags for members of their respected communities at multiple locations.
Southeast Texas officials are urging the community to take necessary precautions, as Nicholas is expected to bring heavy rains and flash flooding to certain areas.
“Don't enter into underpasses or other areas, unless they can see for certain that those aren't filled with water,” Branick said.
Officials especially encouraged those in low lying areas to stay home Monday night, warning that with a 4-foot storm surge, even first responders may not be able to get to those areas.
Southeast Texas is expected to see the heaviest downpour beginning early Tuesday morning through noon.