The last few days brought some tense moments for Galveston County.
At the end of last week, two tropical systems, which would eventually become Tropical Storm Marco and Hurricane Laura, began developing with projected paths toward the Texas coast.
The potential of twin hurricanes making landfall in the Gulf of Mexico did not come to pass, however. Marco fell apart as it approached the Louisiana coast.
Laura on Wednesday evening made landfall in Cameron, Louisiana, about 95 miles east of Galveston, as a Category 4 storm.
With sustained winds of 150 mph, it was one the most powerful storms to ever make landfall in the Gulf. The storm caused major damage in southwest Louisiana, including in Lake Charles.
Laura ended up leaving little noticeable damage in Galveston County. Tides were higher than normal, and caused some street flooding in low-lying areas. Local beaches were littered with storm debris and dunes were left scoured by the tides.
The most memorable part of the storm might end up being the mandatory evacuation of Galveston Island and Bolivar Peninsula on Tuesday, the first such orders since Hurricane Ike in 2008, and the first to take place while also taking precautions against a pandemic.
This live blog will end here, as residents continue to make their way back to home following the evacuation. The Daily News will continue to cover the after effects of Laura on galvnews.com.
Update: Thursday, Aug. 27, 11 a.m.
It’s safe for residents of the Bolivar Peninsula to return to their homes, Galveston County officials said just after 10 a.m.
State Highway 87 and State Highway 124 have been cleared by the Texas Department of Transportation and the Port Bolivar-Galveston Ferry service has been restored.
County Judge Mark Henry has rescinded the mandatory evacuation order for the peninsula.
Update: Thursday, Aug. 27, 10:02 a.m.
Some areas of the West End still have high water in the roads.
The Galveston-Port Bolivar Ferry has resumed operations, according to the Texas Department of Transportation.
Galveston has also lifted its Thursday night curfew ahead of residents returning to the island.
Update: Thursday, Aug. 27, 8:41 a.m.
It is safe for Galveston County residents to return to unincorporated areas, except for Bolivar Peninsula, Galveston County Judge Mark Henry announced Thursday morning.
State Highway 87 and state Highway 124 were still being cleared of debris by the Texas Department of Transportation. The roads are not yet passable.
Bolivar Peninsula was the location of the most serious forecasts ahead of Hurricane Laura, but there were no reports of damage from overnight.
The Galveston-Port Bolivar Ferry has not yet resumed operations, but is expected to resume operations today.
Update: Thursday, Aug. 27, 7:14 a.m.
Overnight, Galveston County escaped relatively unscathed from the wind and flooding effects of Hurricane Laura, which roared to shore around 1 a.m. near Beaumont and Port Arthur.
On the island, some tidal flooding creeped into low-lying streets and wind shook the trees, but the island had virtually no damage, Mayor pro tem Craig Brown said. Brown is acting as mayor.
“We were very fortunate to escape the brunt of Hurricane Laura,” Brown said, adding that residents who evacuated are welcome to return to the island.
“We appreciate their cooperation on evacuation,” Brown said.
The city had crews outside all night monitoring the storm and had planned to pull crews inside when conditions worsened. But it never got to that point.
“Winds never really got up, I don’t think, to tropical-force winds,” Brown said.
Some areas of the West End and along the beach flooded, but there was no significant damage, Brown said.
“We’re open for business,” he added.
The police and fire departments are making contact with cities along the Texas and Louisiana border that were hardest hit by the storm to offer help in response to Hurricane Laura, Brown said.
Update, Wednesday, Aug. 26, 11:26 p.m.
The National Hurricane Center's 11 p.m. forecast still has Hurricane Laura on track to make landfall in Cameron Parish on the southwest Louisiana coast.
Residents there can expect 150 mph winds and storm surges the hurricane center describes as extremely dangerous and deadly.
Southeast Texas and the Galveston area are on the outer fringe of the storm. People can expect winds at a tropical storm strength and high surf and tides.
In Galveston Bay, tides are about 2.5 feet above normal and could reach 3 to 3.5 feet above normal, according to the weather service.
A tornado watch is in effect for areas just east of Houston and Galveston until 8 a.m. Thursday.
Update: Wednesday, Aug. 26, 10:06 p.m.
The Galveston Police Department reports high water on some streets around the island.
High water was reported between Avenue R and Stewart Road and on 59th Street, spokesman Lt. Xavier Hancock said. People should also be aware of high water at San Jacinto Drive, Deaf Smith Drive, Burnet Drive and Conch, Hancock said.
The West End Marina and Restaurants, 21706 Burnet Drive, also has high water around it, Hancock said.
FM 3005 has high water at Gulf Drive, Second Street and in the 22000 and 24000 blocks, Hancock said.
Stewart Beach is also underwater, he said.
Downtown, water is starting to seep out of the storm drains north of Postoffice Street. The stinking water is covering some intersections along The Strand.
Update: Wednesday, Aug. 26, 9:22 p.m.
State Highway 87 on Bolivar Peninsula is closed, according to the Galveston County Office of Emergency Management.
Officials began warning yesterday that Hurricane Laura could cause a storm surge that covers the highway and make evacuation from the peninsula impossible. The county ordered a mandatory evacuation of the peninsula on Tuesday.
The Galveston Ferry suspended operations on Tuesday night. There has been no announced time for when operations will restart.
Tides at Rollover Pass are about 2 feet above predicted tides, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Tides on Bolivar Peninsula are currently rising and will not reach high tide until 7:30 a.m. Thursday.
Update: Wednesday, Aug. 26, 8:16 p.m.
Brazoria County has closed the state Highway 257, the Bluewater Highway, between the San Luis Pass and Surfside City, the county announced in a tweet.
The highway, which is south of the San Luis Pass, was closed because of high water and debris on the roadway, the county said.
The closure means that the only open road off of Galveston is Interstate 45. The Galveston-Port Bolivar Ferry suspended operations on Tuesday night.
Update: Wednesday, Aug. 26, 4:25 p.m.
The National Hurricane Center has released its 4 p.m. forecast update for Hurricane Laura, and much of predictions about the storm remain the same.
Laura is forecasted to make landfall on the Louisiana side of the Texas-Louisiana border late Wednesday night or early Thursday morning.
The center is predicting devastating storm surge to occur from Sea Rim State Park in Sabine Pass to Intracoastal City, Louisiana, including and Sabine Lakes.
The predictions for storm surge in Galveston County are not as high as in those places. Surges are forecasted to reach between 6 feet and 9 feet above ground on Bolivar Peninsula and between 2 feet and 4 feet on Galveston Island.
During a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, Galveston Mayor pro tem Craig Brown said he expected Laura's surge to bring street flooding to some parts of Galveston but did not think the water would get inside of buildings.
Tropical storm-force winds are expected to occur in Galveston County after 8 p.m. tonight, according to the hurricane center.
Update: Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2:35 p.m.
Clear Creek ISD has announced that the district will extend it's closure through Friday in anticipation of possible power outages and due to the number of students and staff who have evacuated ahead of Hurricane Laura.
"On Monday, Clear Creek ISD will resume school for all students. As a reminder, on Monday, August 31, 2020, students in grades Pre-Kindergarten, Kindergarten, 6th and 9th grade as well as certain groups of special education students will return to Brick and Mortar if they had selected that option," the ISD announced. "All other grade levels and Clear Connections Online Program will remain online."
Update, Wednesday, Aug. 26, 1:10 p.m.
Water has started to cross parts of state Highway 87 on Bolivar Peninsula, Galveston County Judge Mark Henry said in an afternoon weather update about Hurricane Laura.
Officials expect that storm surge from the hurricane eventually will make the highway impassable, effectively making evacuation from Bolivar Peninsula impossible.
The Galveston-Port Bolivar Ferry suspended operations on Tuesday night because of tropical storm conditions. The highway and the ferry are the only two ways off of the peninsula.
Henry issued a mandatory evacuation of Bolivar Peninsula because of the potential of residents being cut off from help during the storm. Officials this afternoon said they believed most people heeded the warning.
Bolivar Peninsula has a permanent population of about 2,000 people, though the population can be higher in the summer because of vacationers and other visitors staying in the area.
Update, Wednesday, Aug. 26, 12:55 p.m.
The National Weather Service has upgraded Hurricane Laura to a Category 4 storm.
The storm has winds of up to 140 mph, according to the weather service.
The weather service is warning people that they are running out of time to prepare for the storm and should do so now.
Hurricane force winds are not forecast in Galveston County, except for Bolivar Peninsula.
Update: Wednesday, Aug. 26, 10:28 a.m.
As they're making plans to evacuate, people should not post pictures of their boarded-up homes on social media, local law enforcement officials advise.
Letting people know when you're leaving town could leave your home susceptible to potential home burglaries, Galveston Police Department Chief Vernon Hale said.
It's always a bad idea to advertise on social media when you're heading out — and that applies during a hurricane as well, he said.
"As a common practice, you should never be letting people know you're leaving," Hale said.
Hale hadn't heard any reports of break-ins as of 10:30 a.m., he said.
Update: Wednesday, Aug. 26, 9:45 a.m.
Update: Wednesday, Aug. 26, 6:27 a.m.
Hurricane Laura intensified overnight and is now expected to be a Category 4 storm when it makes landfall on Wednesday evening, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Laura is still forecasted to make landfall near the Texas-Louisiana border, though the hurricane center still warned the storm could cause serious local effects in Galveston County.
At 4 a.m., Laura was 335 miles southeast of Galveston and had maximum sustained winds of 110 mph, according to the center.
Coastal areas along the upper Texas coast, including Galveston Island and Bolivar, are under storm surge and hurricane warnings.
While the storm's eye may make landfall well away from Galveston County, Laura could produce hurricane-force winds up to 70 miles from its center and tropical-storm force winds up to 175 miles out of its center.
Galveston is about 60 miles from the border of Texas and Louisiana.
Laura may produce dangerous storm surge as it comes to shore. The storm surge on Bolivar Peninsula is forecast to be between 6 feet and 9 feet above ground. On Galveston Island and around Galveston Bay, the storm surge is forecasted to be between 3 feet and 5 feet above ground
The deepest water will occur along the immediate coast and to the right of the landfall location, according to the center.
Update: Tuesday, Aug. 25, 6:50 p.m.
Galveston Mayor pro tem Craig Brown has ordered curfews for the next three nights and warned people who are out on city streets that they will be fined up to $1,000.
There is a 10 p.m. curfew on Tuesday, and 8 p.m. curfews on Wednesday and Thursday, according to the city.
The curfews end at 6 a.m.
The order fines people who are in city right-of-ways or on public streets after the designated curfew time, according to the city.
"The only legitimate reason for a person to be on the roads is to leave the island as part of the evacuation for Hurricane Laura," the city said.
People who violate the curfew may be charged with a misdemeanor and fined up to $1,000, the city said.
Update: Tuesday, Aug. 25, 6:30 p.m.
Anyone who needs assistance with evacuation and wants to leave the island in advance of Hurricane Laura needs to be at the Island Community Center, 4700 Broadway, by 8 p.m., according to the city.
Anyone who needs help getting to the buses can call 409-765-3710 to arrange for city staff will pick them up.
The buses need time to get on the road ahead of the storm and traffic, according to the city.
Update: Tuesday, Aug. 25, 4:20 p.m.
The latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center kept the forecast for Hurricane Laura mostly the same as it has been throughout the day.
Laura is expected to make landfall at the Texas-Louisiana border on Wednesday evening or Thursday morning.
Laura was moving west-northwest through the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday afternoon and was expected to turn more northward on Wednesday, according to the center.
At 4 p.m., Laura had sustained winds near 80 mph. The storm is expected to be a major hurricane, at least a Category 3 storm, by the time it makes landfall, according to the center.
The storm is expected to bring damaging storm surge to parts of the county of up to 9 feet above the ground, according to the center. The highest surges are predicted for eastern parts of the county, on Bolivar Peninsula.
Update: Tuesday, Aug. 25, 3 p.m.
A cement truck that crashed into the side of Interstate 45 and blocked two lanes of traffic led to a long line of cars around noon Tuesday, police said.
Some took to social media to express concern about the traffic backup, believing it was connected to evacuation orders, such as the mandatory one in Galveston Tuesday morning.
But it appears the backup was directly connected to the cement truck, said John Griffith, spokesman for the League City Police Department.
It took a wrecker truck coming from Galveston more than an hour to get up to remove the vehicle, Griffith said. During that time, traffic became quite backed up.
Update: Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2:20 p.m.
The Galveston-Port Bolivar Ferry will suspend operations at 11:30 p.m., the Texas Department of Transportation has announced.
The final ferry across Bolivar Roads will leave the Bolivar side of the channel tonight, the department said.
After that, the department will secure its ferry boats until Hurricane Laura has passed through the area. The department did not announce when the ferry would resume operations.
"After the storm has passed, an assessment of equipment will be made and ferry service will be resumed as quickly as safely possible," the department said.
The end of ferry service will mean the only evacuation route off Bolivar Peninsula is Highway 87. County officials warned the highway could be cut off by storm surge flooding on Wednesday, leaving people on Bolivar Peninsula stranded.
Galveston County Judge Mark Henry has ordered a mandatory evacuation of Bolivar Peninsula.
Update: Tuesday, Aug. 25. 2:15 p.m.
Mayor Pat Hallisey has issued a voluntary evacuation order for League City residents, officials announced Tuesday afternoon.
Residents in low-lying areas, including those who live along Clear Creek, Clear Lake and Dickinson Bayou, as well as those with medical needs should consider leaving, officials said.
As part of the declaration, Hallisey also issued a local state of disaster and postponed today's planned council meeting until Sept. 1, officials said.
All city facilities also will close at 5:30 p.m. and remain closed through Monday, officials said.
Staff will man the city’s 311 line for calls on Wednesday until noon and will resume taking calls once the storm passes, officials said.
Waste collectors will still pick up trash Wednesday but not yard waste or heavy trash, officials said. Collectors will not pick up trash Thursday and haven’t yet made a decision about Friday.
Update: Tuesday, Aug. 25. 1:55 p.m.
The City of La Marque has issued a clarification on its orders to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Laura.
People who live in areas that are outside city levees are under a mandatory evacuation order, the city said in a press release. That includes the neighborhoods of Omega Bay, Highland Bayou Park, Mahan Park and Perthius Farm.
Other parts of the city are under voluntary evacuation orders, the city said.
During a press conference earlier today, Galveston County Judge Mark Henry said all of La Marque was under a mandatory evacuation order and did not differentiate between areas inside and outside of the levee.
Update: Tuesday, Aug. 25, 12:18 p.m.
Hurricane Laura could bring storm surge flooding onto the north sides of Bolivar Peninsula and Galveston Island, Galveston County Judge Mark Henry said.
Current forecasts for the storm are raising the possibility of floods on the peninsula that rise between 4 feet and 8 feet above the ground, Henry said.
The possibility of storm surge flooding is one of the major reasons that Henry ordered a mandatory evacuation from Bolivar Peninsula, he said.
"We fully anticipate Bolivar being cut off from the rest of the world for a period of time," Henry said. "It could be 30 minutes, six hours, at this point I just can't say."
Laura is forecasted as a powerful, fast-moving windstorm with an eye that makes landfall east of Galveston County. Its position brings the possibility of strong winds that drive flooding from Galveston Bay, Henry said.
The extent of flooding on the peninsula and on Galveston Island will depend on a number of factors, including how quickly the storm moves through the area, he said.
Fresh water rain is not expected to be a major issue with the storm, Henry said.
Update: Tuesday, Aug. 25, 12 p.m.
Galveston County Judge Mark Henry has issued a mandatory evacuation order for Bolivar Peninsula, he announced at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon.
The possibility of storm surge cutting off state Highway 87 and suspending service on the Galveston-Port Bolivar Ferry prompted the upgraded orders, Henry said.
Henry also announced voluntary evacuations from the unincorporated communities of San Leon and Bacliff, which are on the western edge of Galveston Bay, and of Freddiesville, along state Highway 6 near Hitchcock.
Henry said other communities in Galveston County also have notified him of their plans to issue mandatory or voluntary evacuations.
The cities of Clear Lake Shores, Jamaica Beach, La Marque, Tiki Island and Galveston have issued mandatory evacuations, Henry said. The cities of Bayou Vista, Hitchcock and Kemah are under voluntary evacuations, he said.
Update: Tuesday, Aug. 25, 10:10 a.m.
Galveston County is now under a hurricane warning, according to the National Hurricane Center.
The center upgraded the severity of its warning at 10 a.m.
The county is also under a storm surge warning.
The warnings mean there is danger of the life-threatening inundation from rising water and hurricane-force winds within the next 36 hours.
"Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion," according to the hurricane center.
The center's latest forecast did not change much from forecasts published earlier Tuesday morning. The center of the storm is still on track to make landfall at the Texas-Louisiana border, according to the center.
Tropical storm-force winds may extend out as far as 175 miles from the center of the storm.
Forecasts now call for between 2 feet and 5 feet of storm surge flooding on Galveston Island and in Galveston Bay.
Laura is forecast to make landfall on Wednesday evening, but areas within the warning area could begin to feel tropical-storm force winds on Wednesday morning.
Update: Tuesday, Aug. 25, 9:04 a.m.
Clear Creek ISD's Superintendent of Schools Greg Smith has announced that all district schools will close at noon today and remain closed on Wednesday and Thursday to allow families time to prepare for Hurricane Laura. A decision on holding classes Friday will be made on Thursday.
Update: Tuesday, Aug. 25, 9:00 a.m.
Tropical Storm Laura has become Hurricane Laura, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Hurricane hunter aircraft this morning found that the storm had sustained winds of up to 75 mph, according to the center. At 7:15 a.m. the was about 625 miles southeast of Lake Charles.
It is moving west-northwest at a speed of 17 mph.
Hurricane Laura is expected to make landfall sometime Wednesday evening or Thursday morning.
Update: Tuesday, Aug. 25, 8:34 a.m.
The City of Galveston has clarified the mandatory evacuation order issued this morning. While city services will be suspended at 12 p.m. today, residents are not required to to be off the island by 12 p.m. as originally stated.
Update: Tuesday, Aug. 25, 8 a.m.
Galveston County has issued a voluntary evacuation order for Bolivar Peninsula. The order could become a mandatory evacuation later today, officials said.
The county is urging people with special conditions who may need help in a crisis to leave as soon as possible.
"It’s possible the Bolivar Peninsula will become cut off from emergency services due to this storm," the county said. "Those with medical conditions and the elderly are strongly encouraged to make their evacuation now."
Update: Tuesday, Aug. 25, 7:45 a.m.
Galveston is preparing for the possibility of a major hurricane striking the island on Wednesday evening.
Galveston Mayor pro tem Craig Brown on Tuesday morning issued a mandatory evacuation order for all of Galveston Island and urged residents to leave the island by noon today.
Brown's order could be the first of many to come today. Galveston County Judge Mark Henry indicated on Monday he was considering issuing a voluntary evacuation order for Bolivar Peninsula.
That was before the National Weather Service in League City upgraded some local warnings for the Galveston area.
Early Tuesday morning, the weather service upgraded Galveston Island to being in a hurricane watch. A watch means that hurricane-force winds are possible within the next 48 hours.
In a 5 a.m. forecast, the weather service said Laura could bring winds of up to 110 mph to the Galveston Island. Forecasters urged people to plan for a Category 3 strength storm.
The storm could cause devastating and catastrophic damage, according to the weather service, including "structural damage to sturdy buildings, some with complete roof and wall failures."
Laura could cause storm surge up to 6 feet above ground in surge-prone areas, according to the weather service.
The Galveston Independent School District has canceled all of its classes for the remainder of the week, school board President Tony Brown announced on Facebook.
Texas A&M University at Galveston is evacuating its campus on Pelican Island this morning, the school said.
This is a developing story. Check back later for more details.