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Texas governor urges people to evacuate, even if it’s not ‘mandatory’

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) told residents to prepare for “a very major disaster” in Hurricane Harvey during a Friday news conference.

Despite no mandatory evacuations being issued, Abbott urged citizens to evacuate from low-lying and coastal areas while there is still time. Harvey, he said, “has turned into a very complex and dangerous hurricane,” and said the state will be “dealing with immense, really record-setting flooding in multiple regions across the state of Texas.”

“Even if an evacuation order hasn’t been issued by your local official,” Abbott stressed, “if you’re in an area between Corpus Christi and Houston, you need to strongly consider evacuating.”

Abbott said mandatory evacuation orders are left up to local officials who have the best understanding of their regions.

Speaking at the afternoon news conference, Abbott said people may think they can ride out the initial storm surge, but “what you don’t know, and what nobody else knows right now, is the magnitude of flooding that will be coming.”

“You don’t want to put yourself in a situation where you could be subject to a search and rescue.”

Abbott said he has already sent a request to President Trump to declare a major federal disaster in Texas.

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Hurricane Harvey updates: Texas hit by powerful storm, heavy rain

Hurricane Harvey is on track to be the strongest storm to strike the United States in 12 years. It’s forecast to make landfall on the Texas coast late Friday or early Saturday. Follow along for updates on preparations, evacuations and forecasts.

Visit the Capital Weather Gang for more on the storm.