New county judge faces possible flooding on only her second day
Lina Hidalgo completed exactly one day in office before grappling with one of the most important roles of the Harris County judge — preparing residents for potential flooding.
In her debut appearance at the county’s emergency operations center, Hidalgo Wednesday warned the community about possible flash flooding expected through midday Thursday. In particular, she urged residents in the Tomball, Cypress, Katy and San Jacinto River areas to be vigilant.
“I wanted to be here personally, because it’s the first rain event for me as county judge,” Hidalgo said. “I wanted to be here and share with our community how we are doing.”
The operations center will not be activated and the rain is unlikely to flood structures, she said, but could cover roads. The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood watch for Southeast Texas counties, including Harris, Fort Bend, Galveston, Liberty, Chambers, Brazoria and Montgomery.
Forecasters predict the region could receive 2 to 3 inches of rain, with 4 inches possible in isolated areas.
“The ground is saturated, so new water is not being absorbed,” Hidalgo said. “So that’s why we’ve got to be particularly mindful of flooding.”
In her brief remarks, Hidalgo said drivers should exercise caution and view their route at www.houstontranstar.org before heading out. She repeated her advice in Spanish.
Hidalgo appeared alone before the bank of cameras, though Harris County meteorologist Jeff Lindner, Deputy Emergency Management Coordinator Francisco Sanchez and Joseph Carlos Madden, her chief of staff, looked on.
Hidalgo has left in place the emergency management team assembled by her predecessor, Ed Emmett, and spent much of the two months between Election Day and her inauguration Tuesday meeting with OEM staff and studying the county’s disaster response plans.
She’ll preside over her first Commissioners Court meeting on Tuesday.
Zach Despart covers Harris County for the Chronicle. You can follow him on Twitter or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org .