Tropical Storm Hanna made landfall along the Gulf Coast of Texas on Saturday evening, causing flooding, damage, and power loss in a state already badly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Although it has since weakened to tropical storm status as it makes its way across the border into northeastern Mexico, Hanna hit Texas as a Category 1 hurricane. Even as a tropical storm, it threatens Texas communities with high levels of rain.
According to Jana Eubank, executive director of the Texas Association of Community Health Centers, one health care organization in Hidalgo County reported being “walloped” by flooding, although none of its locations experienced structural damage.
Communities in coastal Texas are accustomed to flooding events due to hurricanes and tropical storms. But Tropical Storm Hanna, coming in the midst of what has been expected to be an active storm season, caused particular concern because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We cannot allow this hurricane to lead to a more catastrophically deadly event by stoking additional spread of Covid-19,” said Texas Gov. Greg Abbott during a Saturday afternoon news conference.
The New York Times reported that typical hurricane preparation activities in affected areas were altered by the presence of face masks, social distancing measures, and temperature checks.
According to the National Weather Service, scattered showers and thunderstorms are still expected in parts of southern Texas. Because soils are already waterlogged, the agency said, “any heavier showers or thunderstorms could result in the concern for additional isolated flash flooding.”
Direct Relief’s emergency response team is currently expediting the delivery of emergency supplies to local partners. The organization will continue to monitor the situation and respond as needed.