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Texans in the Rio Grande Valley and along the Coastal Bend continued to face the impact of now-Tropical Storm Hanna on Sunday.
The storm, which made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane Saturday evening at Padre Island, packed sustained winds as high as 90 mph and caused power outages and flooding. Rain bands from the hurricane will linger over much of the region all day Sunday.
As of 1 a.m. Sunday, Hanna had weakened into a tropical storm and was moving toward northern Mexico, according to the National Weather Service.
Liz Sommerville, a senior forecaster for the station, told the Corpus Christi Caller-Times that there is a chance for severe thunderstorms that could bring strong winds, heavy rain and low-line, coastal flooding in the region all-day.
Coastal flooding that could reach up to two to three feet will be especially evident in the northern and southern parts of Port Aransas, Sommerville said.
A flash flood watch is in effect until Sunday night for parts of several South Texas communities, including Nueces, Bee, Jim Wells, Refugio and San Patricio counties.
A tornado watch is in effect in Corpus Christi, Kingsville, Falfurrias, Laredo, Zapata, McAllen and Brownsville until 10 p.m. Sunday.
As of 6:50 a.m., the National Weather Service in Corpus Christi reported 2.86 inches at its station, 2.94 inches at Naval Air Station-Corpus Christi, 2.28 inches at Alice airport and 1.33 inches at Victoria airport.
The storm, which landed 15 miles north of Port Mansfield, caused flooding along the coast and the energy provider for the region was reporting more than 140,000 outages as of Sunday morning.
Less than an hour before Hanna's landfall on Saturday, Gov. Greg Abbott called for residents not to forget the already 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 seeing that it is sweeping through an area that is the most challenged area in the state for COVID-19."
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.
One of those challenges could be how to handle an emergency in COVID-19 hot spots, such as nursing homes.
"We worked very close with all of the nursing homes through the testing and the cleaning. We know exactly where they are, how many residents they have," said Texas Division of Emergency Management Chief W. Nim Kidd. "If we need to evacuate a nursing home at this point, we still have all the resources that we've had in every hurricane season to do that. The difference will be that we will be wearing more P.P.E. than we've had in the past."
The National Hurricane Center previously issued a hurricane warning for a section of the Texas coast from Port Mansfield to Mesquite Bay — an area that includes Corpus Christi Bay, Aransas Bay and Padre Island.
The agency also issued a warning of storm surge for a wider area, including the coast from Port Mansfield to Sargent. Looking to assist, Abbott had already dispatched emergency resources to the Coastal Bend region and to the Rio Grande Valley, where the governor is simultaneously sending more than 1,000 medical personnel to help fight the novel coronavirus, which has devastated South Texas.
Corpus Christi had already decided to close a drive-thru coronavirus testing site until at least Tuesday.
"Don't forget to know," said Corpus Christi Mayor Joe McComb, "we're also fighting the coronavirus."
It was a stark reminder for a region that has been a coronavirus hot spot, adding well over 2,000 COVID-19 cases during each of the first two weeks of July. At least 2% of the population was infected, or one in every 50 people. Now the region is preparing for a storm in the middle of a pandemic.
Originally article published in The Texas Tribune, a nonpartisan, nonprofit media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them – about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.
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Matthew McConaughey is reportedly weighing a run for Texas governor in 2022.
The Austin resident and Oscar winner has been "quietly making calls to influential people in Texas political circles, including a deep-pocketed moderate Republican and energy CEO" as he decides whether to run, according to Politico.
McConaughey said a gubernatorial run is "a true consideration" while on a March episode of Houston's "The Balanced Voice" podcast.
Although most political strategists doubt McConaughey's commitment and viability as a candidate, some are still intrigued by the possibility.
"I find it improbable, but it's not out of the question," Karl Rove, a top Republican strategist with a long history in Austin, told the political news site. He added that the big question is whether McConaughey would run as a Republican, a Democrat or an independent.
Brendan Steinhauser, an Austin-based GOP strategist, told Politico he's surprised McConaughey isn't being taken more seriously. "Celebrity in this country counts for a lot," he said. "It's not like some C-list actor no one likes. He has an appeal."
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott plans to run for a third term and remains popular among Republican voters, 77% of whom approve of his performance as of April, according to the Texas Politics Project.
Some strategists believe an independent McConaughey run would benefit Abbott. But a recent poll from The Dallas Morning News and the University of Texas at Tyler found that McConaughey would beat Abbott, 45% to 33%, with 22% opting for someone else.
Mimi Swartz, an executive editor at Texas Monthly, mulled a McConaughey run in a recent opinion essay from the New York Times. "Texas may not be ready for a philosopher king as a candidate, much less governor," she wrote. "May the best man win, man."
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Some JuiceLand production facility workers and storefront employees are organizing to demand wage increases, better working conditions (including air conditioning in the warehouse) and pay transparency, among other asks. They are also calling on staff to strike and customers to boycott the Austin-based company until their demands are met.
JuiceLand responded on Saturday. "We are listening," the company wrote on their Instagram story. "JuiceLand crew now makes guaranteed $15 an hour or more companywide."
JuiceLand, which was founded in 2001 by Matt Shook and now has 35 locations in Austin, Houston and Dallas, acknowledged the rising cost of living across Texas and the added stress of the pandemic in an email to employees on Saturday, part of which @juicelandworkersrights shared on social media. "There's no denying that times are tough and financial security means more now than ever," the company wrote.
Organized JuiceLand workers rejected this proposal, according to a recent post on the @juicelandworkersrights Instagram account, and reiterated their demands.
"Cost of living in Austin is rising exponentially and will only continue to get worse with the tech boom," the post read. "$15 is barely a sustainable living."