The first storm of the season hit South Texas last Saturday. Amid high winds and torrential rain, the so-called Hanna storm — now a tropical depression — has been declared a federal emergency by the government and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Liz Sommerville, a senior forecaster with the National Weather Service, told Caller-Times there is a possibility of severe thunderstorms that could bring high winds, torrential rains, and coastal flooding to the region until Monday.
Less than an hour before Hanna’s landing Saturday, Gov. Greg Abbott asked residents not to forget the pre-existing threat of COVID-19 in the face of the natural disaster.
“Any hurricane is an enormous challenge,” Abbott said in a news conference on Saturday afternoon. “This challenge is complicated and made even more severe by seeing that it is sweeping through an area that is the most challenged area in the state for COVID-19.”
According to The Texas Tribune, Abbott announced that the state’s emergency response would include 17 COVID-19 mobile testing teams focused on shelters and 100 medical personnel provided by the Texas National Guard. For people who leave the area, the American Red Cross will be providing hotel vouchers in San Antonio’s Freeman Coliseum. The governor also issued a disaster declaration for 32 counties and a federal emergency disaster declaration request.
“We will be responding in the way that we typically respond to hurricanes, but on top of that we will respond to the COVID challenges,” Abbott said Saturday.
The southern state has been one of the most impacted by the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, with 381,656 reported cases and more than 5,000 deaths.
According to The Guardian, Texas’ situation has reached a critical point in rural areas, forcing a hospital to set up “death panels” to decide which patients it can save and which ones will be sent home to die.
Between the storm and the pandemic, Texas has been a testament to the administrative situation in the nation. The federal government has discredited the impact of COVID-19 and chosen to respond promptly to natural disasters if and only if they impact states critical to the election.
Meanwhile, federal funds diverted from Congress for the construction of its border fence were dismembered by Hanna’s scourge in a video posted on Twitter by the Mexican media Noticias Énfasis, and putting into a picture the metaphor of an administration with reversed priorities.