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Tropical Storm Nicholas
Supplies remain steady ahead of Tropical Storm Nicholas
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Despite a rush of customers to purchase supplies, Crossroads area stores are maintaining a strong inventory.

Grocery and water supplies are still high, said Arnold Davis, food and beverage executive team leader at the Victoria Target.

Lumber and storm supplies like generators and flashlights are well stocked in Victoria, said Chris Smith, store manager at the Victoria Lowe’s, but are selling quickly at Port Lavaca’s Ace Hardware,

Lumber supplies and general at Port Lavaca’s Ace Hardware are still high, store manager Tony Tidrick said. Supplies like flashlights, propane tanks, sandbags and extension cords are still in stock though they are selling quickly. Generators, however, are sold out and not expected to be back in stock until Wednesday.

“We prepare like we did for Harvey, but a lot of the stuff you’ll never have enough no matter how much you order,” he said.

Storm supplies are not selling as quickly in Victoria, Smith said.

“We have plenty of plywood and OSB,” he said. “I mean, we haven’t really seen a rush on it in our store.”

As of Monday morning, the Victoria Lowe’s still has generators, pallets of bottled water and flashlights and batteries in stock, Smith said. They also received a truckload of sand Monday morning and are expecting another delivery later Monday.

Grocery supplies are still up despite an early morning rush, Davis said.

“We have plenty,” he said. “We had water come in this morning, our food supplies are normal.”

The rush of customers is staying steady, Davis said, but nothing is expected to run out.

“I think we’ll be OK,” he said. “If anything, water will probably be something we may run out of, but right now I think we have plenty.”

Supplies at coastal grocery stores like Port Lavaca’s Walmart remain high, a store representative said.

Port Lavaca residents take precautions as tropical storm approaches

PORT LAVACA — The whirring of cordless drills filled the air in downtown Port Lavaca Monday morning as maintenance workers fastened boards across the doors and windows of local businesses.

As Tropical Storm Nicholas made its way northward toward the middle of the Texas coast, Port Lavaca stood directly in the path of the storm, which had sustained 60-mile-per-hour winds Monday afternoon and was expected to make landfall overnight.

Using plywood boards, a team of about eight employees with Port Lavaca’s public works department overseen by Joe Rodriguez was quickly sealing off an office building overlooking Nautical Landings Marina from the elements. After finishing up downtown, the crew planned to board up the Bauer Community Center next.

“With Harvey, of course, we had quite a bit of damage so that’s what we’re trying to do — prevent that from happening again,” Rodriguez said.

The storm’s severest impacts were expected to occur overnight Monday and into Tuesday morning.

As of Monday afternoon, Nicholas had an outside chance of developing into a hurricane. The storm was expected to deliver 4 to 8 inches of rain close to the Gulf, but just 2 inches further inland. The National Weather Service predicted winds of 55 to 65 mph in Calhoun, Refugio and Jackson counties and winds of 44 to 55 mph in Victoria and Goliad counties, which it said could lead to downed power lines and scattered outages.

Utility companies including CenterPoint Energy and AEP said in news releases that they were monitoring the storm and anticipating some power outages. CenterPoint said it planned to enlist 3,200 crews working 16-hour shifts across the state to restore power as quickly as possibly.

Along the coast, storm surges of 2 to 4 feet were expected, which could create “dangerous, life-threatening conditions,” the agency said.

At the RV park near Lighthouse Beach, Tony Gonzalez, a safety inspector at Formosa Plastics Inc., was preparing to transport his camper away from the beach. As Mark Aguirre helped hitch the camper to a pickup truck, Gonzalez’s son Ethan, 6, played with a red umbrella, laughing as the wind turned it inside-out.

After city officials instructed the RV park’s residents to ride out the storm elsewhere, Gonzalez planned to park the camper near a rental property he owns in Port Lavaca until it becomes safe to return. Other RV park residents were still looking for a place to go, he said.

“I know a lot of people are just looking for a place to put the RV because they don’t want to go back to The Valley or wherever they come from,” said Gonzalez, who is from Corpus Christi. “That’s a long way just to take an RV back.”

Earlier on Monday, Calhoun County Judge Richard Meyer issued a voluntary evacuation order. Meyer said flood-prone parts in the county, including Indianola and Magnolia Beach, as well as low-lying areas around Port Lavaca and Olivia, were likely to be affected by the storm.

Richard McBrayer, Victoria County’s emergency management coordinator, said first responder agencies and public works crews were enacting their tropical storm plans and staging equipment including barricades at low water crossings and pumps at flood-prone areas.

Though the storm was expected to head east of Victoria, McBrayer said the county was still likely to receive intermittent rainfall as the storm’s outer bands passed through the area.

“The concern is not so much the rain as the flash flooding,” he said. “We’re asking citizens to stay informed.

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Five things to know about TS Nicholas
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Q: When do we expect landfall?

A: Tropical Storm Nicholas is expected to make landfall at about 1-2 a.m. Tuesday, though that time fluctuates as the storm moves, said Matt Ziebell, lead forecaster at the National Weather Service.

The storm is anticipated to make landfall in the Matagorda Bay and Port Lavaca area, which is further east than was originally forecasted, Ziebell said.

Q: When will things get bad?

A: Leading up to landfall, the coastal region will see rain and gusts of wind up to 50-60 mph, Ziebell said.

Once the storm makes landfall, it will begin to dissipate and continue traveling northeast.

Q: What do we expect in the Crossroads?

A: Ziebell said the forecast will continue to change, and the storm may advance to a low end hurricane by the time it makes landfall.

In Victoria, about 2-3 inches of rain is predicted with wind gusts up to 20-25 mph, but that could get up to 30-35 mph, Ziebell said.

Several inches of rain will be seen in the coastal region.

There are risks of storm surges in the Matagorda Bay and Port Lavaca areas, Ziebell said. Flash flood warnings are also in effect through Tuesday morning in the area.

Q: How long will it last?

A: The storm will make landfall early Tuesday morning and continue heading northeast.

“Until it makes landfall, it continues to intensify slowly for the rest of the day,” Ziebell said.

It will stay breezy for several days with bouts of rain, but the main part of the storm will affect the area early Tuesday.

Q: What should you be doing now?

A: Ziebell said folks should move their cars away from trees or place them in a garage, if possible. Heavy winds means the potential for fallen trees or tree limbs.

Any loose outdoor objects should be moved inside like garbage cans.

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Victoria County sets new budget with additional Sheriff position
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Victoria County Commissioners approved the 2022 budget with a new addition of a deputy sheriff position to address the rising needs and increasing workload related to illegal border crossings on Monday.

The position, which is estimated to cost around $65,000, will be paid for by increasing the projected amount of sales tax revenue the county expects to see next year.

“I do think it is a safe estimate to project that sales tax higher,” said County Judge Ben Zeller. He said the September report for this year is about $70,000 higher than it was last year. “Year to date, we’re trending higher.”

The position was first requested during last week’s Commissioner’s Court meeting. While previously Border Patrol officers would come pick up detainees in Victoria, recent closures of some Border Patrol offices has meant that Victoria County Sheriff’s Office has had to do more, including transporting people who illegally cross the border and are detained in Victoria County to Kingsville.

“I do firmly believe that it’s only going to get worse for the Sheriff’s Office,” said Commissioner Kevin Janak. “So they’re gonna need as much help as they can.”

Commissioners also delayed approving contracts for two projects at the Victoria Regional Airport because both contractors requested down payments from the county before even beginning work. Commissioners said approving advance payments for projects could set an unwanted precedent.

“Any time we do something like this, we set a precedent,” said Commissioner Gary Burns. “and this is something I don’t want to do for every time we need a repair, we do a down payment. I’m real cautious about that.”

One of the projects would complete the final repairs for damages at the airport incurred during the February winter storm. The entire project would cost just over $20,000 with a $5,000 down payment. The other was to replace two fiberglass shower inserts at the fire station. Its estimated cost is $9,000, but the contractor requested that 60% be paid up front as a down payment.

“No. Flat no. We cannot do that. That’s not good business in my opinion,” said Janak. “If they purchase the material and it’s on site at least there’s something there that we can claim, to say that we purchased that material. But just giving someone 60% just to start the project, no, I disagree with that.”

However, it has been very difficult to even get quotes on projects, said Lenny Llerena, executive director of the airport. It’s been even harder to get people to commit to a job, he said. And many of the larger companies that might not require down payments right now will cost more overall.

“There’s a lot of work out there, and very little materials. Materials have gone through the roof,” said Llerena. “It’s very challenging right now to get anything done.”