Mid-County leaders talk curfews, water supply & police response in hours before Laura strikes

Published 12:52 pm Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Port Neches, Groves and Nederland city officials are deploying emergency first responders and issuing curfews in preparation for Hurricane Laura’s landfall Wednesday night.

The Port Neches Police Department announced that residents will be under a mandatory curfew starting at 10 p.m. Wednesday and will remain in effect indefinitely.

The statement said: “It will be unlawful for any person to be outside of his/her residence property, between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. until this order is terminated.”

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Those exempt include residents returning from employment activities, employees of utility companies, pipelines, oil supply facilities, hospitals or persons assisting in the restoration of water, electrical, sewer or emergency management.

Port Neches Mayor Glenn Johnson said the city is doing good, so far.

“Everyone is heeding the evacuation order and those that are staying are hunkering down,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that we have so much experience with these things. We are hoping for the best and we hope everyone stays safe because when once this thing starts hitting, we may be unable to respond.”

Johnson said the curfew is in place for the safety of all citizens.

“If you need to be out, you better be going to work,” he said. “If you are just out and about for no reason, you will be stopped.”

The Port Neches Police Department reported on its Facebook page that the department has twice the personnel and 3-4 state troopers assisting on various shifts throughout the storm and the response thereafter.

Johnson said the extra patrol is added security.

“We are basically telling people not to come to Port Neches if they are thinking about breaking the law,” he said. “You will not be greeted nicely, and we have police all over the city. There will be no tolerance. The fire department is also ready and available and public works is doing their specific duties. This is not our first rodeo for us, everyone know their jobs.”

The City of Port Neches is shutting off their water service at 6 p.m. Wednesday. Services will be returned as soon as possible with a boiling water notice.

Nederland’s Police Department also stated that they will be in attendance for the duration of the storm along with Texas DPS.

City Manager Chris Duque said the city is finishing the final storm preparations.

“We’re finishing preparation with our public works crews and getting our public safety officials ready,” he said. “The police department will be actively patrolling the city until it is no longer safe to do so and we will ride this storm out at the emergency preparation center.”

Duque said Nederland is already thinking about recovery efforts.

“We are already preparing our debris operation and we are just praying for the best and hoping everybody stays safe,” he said.

There is a curfew set in Nederland from 9 p.m. Wednesday to 7 a.m. Thursday.

As of now, the city of Nederland has not reported a decision to cut off water services.

“Our emergency management team is doing a great job in coordinating and preparing us for the storm that will be here in a few hours,” Duque said. “But if we do decide to shut down operations at the plant, there will still be several days of water available in the power and the lines. It is not the same thing as people thinking that there will be no water supply. Now a major disaster can change that but at this time that is not something we are planning on doing.”

The City of Groves is also deciding to leave city water turned on by only isolating certain leaks that may result in no water in some areas.

“We are leaving our water on and our water plant manned because we know people are here,” City Manager D.E. Sosa said. “We are moving our assets to Port Neches and higher ground right now for precaution and we will hunker down at the police station and high school. When the storm passes we will get back to work and start assessing the damage.”

Groves said the first priority will be clearing the streets.

“The quicker we can get the streets clear the quicker Entergy can come in and start restoring power,” he said. “That’s the way it’s always been.”

The City of Groves issued a curfew starting at 8 p.m. Wednesday until 7 a.m. Thursday. That curfew will be in effect every day until further notice.

The police department will be functioning at full capacity and patrolling the street.

Sosa said officers are performing 12-hour shifts and will be stationed overnight at the department.

“We are hoping that we get a good turn on that storm and that everything works our way and then we can start the clean up process,” he said. “In the meantime, we ask the people that stayed to please be patient with us and we will be back to normal as soon as possible.”