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Kingsville, Kleberg Co. issue voluntary evacuation for residents in low-lying areas

Posted at 8:04 PM, Jul 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-24 22:02:10-04

Officials in Kleberg County are preparing for intensive flooding from Tropical Storm Hanna.

This afternoon, Kleberg County Judge Rudy Madrid issued a voluntary evacuation order for residents in low-lying areas.

“Even if it stays at a tropical storm, it’s going to bring in a lot of wind, a lot of rain,” Madrid said. “It’s something that everyone needs to take very, very seriously.”

Madrid said the county is also working directly with AEP to help restore power to residents in the event of an outage — especially for seniors. Other measures include implementing a COVID-19 “chill zone” to cool off in the event of a long-term power outage and providing extra food packages via its Meals on Wheels program.

The city of Kingsville, too, is helping residents. On Friday, there were two sandbag operations designated for the public. One allowed residents to bag up sand themselves, while the other was a drive-thru.

California native Abigail Williams has lived in Kingsville for a year. Even though she waited with her two young children in the backseat for about two hours, she found it comforting she wasn’t the only one taking these precautions.

“We can do earthquakes all day long, but this is different,” she said. “Being from out of state and coming here — there’s a lot of Texas residents that are still doing the same thing, so it makes me feel better.”

Even though it’s his first time to take on a major storm as Kingsville city manager, Mark McLaughlin is no stranger to severe weather. He said it’s going to impact everyone in the city.

“There’s going to be low-water crossings that are going to be shut down, there’s going to be streets that are normally never covered in water — will be covered in water,” he said. “People just really don’t need to be out and about.”

The COVID-19 outbreak hasn’t made the response any easier. Citing the city’s zero reported cases from July 23, McLaughlin said now isn’t the time to move backwards when it comes to its novel coronavirus response.

“It’s going to impact everybody, but we cannot forget we are in the middle of this pandemic,” he said. “And we all have to do our part — we have been very fortunate that the citizens Kingsville and Kleberg County appear to be taking this seriously in that we’ve had no new reports yesterday.

“We had five the day before that. The numbers have been relatively low. Compared to surrounding areas, and I think that’s a testament to the people taking that a little more seriously around here.”

Ultimately, he said he sees this as a test for the future storms — including Gonzalo.

“This is the time to run our checklist, do our stuff, handle this storm, learn from it, and be prepared for the next one behind it,” he said. “So I’m looking at this as just another piece of operations we have to do. You deal with storms in South Texas — and that’s what we’re doing.”