The south-central Texas city of Victoria is preparing for heavy rain as Tropical Storm Beta moves toward the Gulf Coast. At the same time, Victoria is dealing with added COVID-19 challenges: it’s one of three regions excluded from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s recent loosening of pandemic restrictions.
Mayor Rawley McCoy told Texas Standard that Beta is expected to make landfall in the next 24 hours, and it could dump several inches of rain in the region. But with rivers running low, he said he doesn’t expect much risk of flooding.
“I think its flowing at about 6 feet, where our flood stage is 19 [feet], so we’ve got plenty of capacity,” McCoy said.
But he said local officials are still taking Beta seriously. The county emergency operations department has been tracking the storm since last week. So far, Victoria, which is about 30 miles inland from the Texas Gulf Coast, has not yet had to evacuate any residents.
The city is also dealing with ongoing COVID-19 challenges. Abbott didn’t loosen restrictions there because of the number of hospitalizations. The Texas Tribune reported last Thursday that Abbott said hospitals in Victoria, as well as in Laredo and the Rio Grande Valley, were still “in the danger zone,” and could not expand restaurant dining capacity, among other things.
But McCoy is appealing to local representatives to reverse that decision because he said Victoria has enough available hospital beds to handle its COVID-19 cases.
“It’s always been about percentage of hospital capacity. … That’s what he needs to concentrate on, is the actual percentage as it relates to hospital capacity, not necessarily hospitalizations.”