On Thursday morning, even as Harvey strengthened to become a hurricane, it was business as usual on the Galveston coast.
Families ventured into the warm waters of the Gulf, while others used the breeze to send up kites.
However, there was something missing along the beach. Overnight, beach patrol crews pulled lifeguard stations off the sand, putting them in storage until the storm clears. Doing so, the city says, is part of preparing for the worst-case scenario. Galveston County emergency managers are encouraging people who live on the island to do the same.
“We just want to make sure our residents are being vigilant: monitoring local news, monitoring official social media pages and just staying informed and getting prepared either way,” says Brittany Viegas, chief public information officer for the Galveston County Office of Emergency Management.
Though a lot of island residents seem to wait until the last minute to prep, Jo Murtin says she’s ready.
“We did our food prep yesterday, buying water and supplies,” says Murtin, who just moved to Galveston from England a month ago.
She says since this is her first bout with tropical weather, she doesn't want to take any chances.
“We’re feeling better be safe than sorry,” Murtin says.
That’s a sentiment with which emergency managers agree. “You really can’t be too prepared,” adds Viegas.
The county’s primary concern is Bolivar Peninsula, which is only accessible via Highway 87. Should the storm surge or high tide flow over the road, it would trap residents. Viegas says that’s why a judge may issue a voluntary evacuation order later Thursday afternoon, as a signal to any residents with medical concerns that now is the time to head inland.