Katy area dodges most damage as Nicholas shifts east

By R. Hans Miller, News Editor
Posted 9/15/21

The Katy area saw only minor effects from Hurricane Nicholas on Monday and Tuesday as the storm made landfall near Galveston, then veered more north and east than expected despite being upgraded from …

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Katy area dodges most damage as Nicholas shifts east

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The Katy area saw only minor effects from Hurricane Nicholas on Monday and Tuesday as the storm made landfall near Galveston, then veered more north and east than expected despite being upgraded from a tropical storm to a hurricane just before midnight Monday evening.

“Overnight we’ve seen the landfall and inland movement of (hurricane) Nicholas across the area that has resulted in some wind impacts around the area with widespread power outages currently,” said Harris County Meteorologist Jeff Lindner in a Tuesday morning storm update.

While power outages impacted several portions of Greater Houston, including the Katy area, by about 5 p.m. Tuesday, crews with Centerpoint Energy had brought restored power to about 297,000 homes out of an initial outage peak of roughly 455,000 homes according to Harris County Meteorologist Jeff Lindner. Lindner also indicated a few road closures and issues regarding windblown debris had caused road closures in various locations throughout Harris County. The storm also caused Harris County to see various flash flood and severe wind warnings.

Minor flood issues did occur near the Clear Creek watershed in southern Harris County, Lindner said.

Rainfall was much lower than expected throughout the Katy area due to the storm shifting to the east. As of 9:30 a.m. rain gauges near the intersection of the county lines of Harris, Fort Bend and Waller counties showed 0.92 inches of rain Tuesday morning. The area had been predicted to receive 4-5 inches of rain. Rain amounts increased closer to Galveston Bay where one rain gauge saw slightly more than 6 inches of rain at that same time.

In a Monday-evening press conference, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo had expressed gratitude that Nicholas’s path had appeared to shift east already. Hidalgo said she was grateful for residents choosing to stay home to reduce demand on first responders who were preparing for any eventualities the storm might bring.

Fort Bend County was also lucky to have dodged the worst of the storm, said Fort Bend County Judge KP George during a Tuesday morning press conference on Sept. 14.

“As we predicted, the storm shifted eastbound and the Homeland Security and Emergency Management (monitored) things throughout the night so that if we needed any changes (made) or even to make a decision to close and things of that nature,” George said. “Fortunately, we are here (and) we have a beautiful morning today.”

Fort Bend County Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Mark Flathouse said the county was working with Centerpoint Energy and other community partners and county departments to restore power, get debris off of roadways and otherwise get the county back to normal.

“We do have some trees down (and) some power lines, as the judge stated and we’re making sure that we are in constant communication with Centerpoint Energy from the number of places and locations that did not have power throughout the night,” Flathouse said. “This morning as we were working with Centerpoint almost every 30 minutes and power is being reconnected to a lot of people in Fort Bend County and in the Houston area.”

Flathouse and George praised the linemen that were working to restore power throughout the region.

“We are committed to restoring service to our customers as safely and quickly as possible. However, patience will be important as some areas of our system and equipment may be difficult to reach for our crews due to safety-related issues, such as downed trees,” said Kenny Mercado, Executive Vice President, Electric Utility of CenterPoint Energy in a Tuesday press release.

Fort Bend County Drainage District First Assistant to the Chief Engineer Jeff Janacek said the county was also lucky in that only slightly more than an inch of rain would flow into Barker Reservoir, leaving plenty of capacity if additional storms came soon.

Fort Bend County Sheriff Eric Fagan expressed appreciation for county residents staying at home during the storm and being cautious while driving if they had to go somewhere after the storm. He said that while the county was grateful that they didn’t have to respond to as severe a storm as was initially predicted, he knew the county learned from their preparation steps.

“And that’s the main thing. Mark Flathouse says we learned from this, and we’ll be better next time – better prepared – and we pray for those who are worse hit in this storm,” Fagan said.

School districts in Fort Bend, Harris and Waller counties closed Tuesday in anticipation of a possible severe storm but reopened under normal operations Wednesday.

In a brief Facebook announcement, Waller County Judge Trey Duhon said the county had been fortunate because other than minor wind damage, the county had gone unscathed by Nicholas’s passing. He also praised the emergency management staff who prepared for the worst while hoping for the best. He praised first responders for their preparedness ahead of the storm.

“Successful emergency management begins with preparation using experience and expertise,” Duhon said. “And, it is much better than learning from a tragic event. I’d rather be prepared and have something be a nonevent than to not be prepared.”

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