In an unprecedented move, the US has ordered a nationwide boil water advisory for all communities of more than 5,000 people in the Gulf of California, as a direct result of Hurricane Maria.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) issued a boil water warning for the entire state on Friday, which means residents in communities along the coast will be required to boil water for two hours to ensure they do not have the potential for an explosion.
“FEMA is working closely with the state of California and local officials to coordinate boil water advisories with the National Weather Service (NWS) to protect residents and property from the impact of this storm,” a FEMA statement said.
“The Federal Emergency Operations Center (FECOCOM) has been monitoring and coordinating all boil water actions and has identified additional communities to include as a precautionary measure.”
As the storm approaches, there will be additional mandatory evacuations and the possibility of a number of additional mandatory evacuation orders being issued.
The National Weather Services (NWWS) has warned that “extreme weather events and significant flooding can occur in the area,” which is expected to increase dramatically in the coming days.
The storm is expected hit the Gulf Coast on Friday.
“As a precaution, we have also issued a mandatory evacuation order for the affected communities in the lower Gulf Coast from the coast of California to the Gulf and beyond,” the NWWS said in a statement.
The US Federal Emergency management Agency has issued boil water warnings for the entirety of the Gulf coast in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, which made landfall in Texas.
The agency says it expects to be sending an additional 1,000 boil water orders by the end of the day, which will likely come from areas where there are already heavy rainfall.
“Our boil water order is for the communities of the Lower Gulf Coast in the Central Gulf Coast of Texas, Central Gulf Coastal Plain, and Upper Gulf Coast,” the agency said in the statement.
“Additional boil water is also being issued for the impacted communities in Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, and Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.”
As of Thursday, the number of mandatory evacuees had risen to nearly 17,000, with more than 8,000 homes still under mandatory evacuation.
According to the Associated Press, more than 1,400 people were already in shelters in Texas as of Wednesday.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which hit New Orleans in 2005, the National Guard ordered the evacuation of thousands of people from New Orleans and New Orleans Parish in Louisiana, where Hurricane Katrina made landfall.
The mandatory evacuation was suspended for more than two weeks, and some communities in Louisiana received no help from the National Guards at all.
A massive storm surge is expected in the region, and the National Hurricane Center has predicted that the area will get an average of 3 feet of rain.
The damage from Hurricane Harvey will likely be greater than Hurricane Katrina was, but the storm will be significantly worse.
In addition to the mandatory evacuation, the federal government is requiring people to remain in their homes and businesses.
The order comes after officials warned that the storm could bring flooding and mudslides to parts of the region.
“There is a very high risk of widespread and catastrophic flooding,” the National Flood Insurance Program said in an advisory.
“While the impact will vary by location, the total number of people and property destroyed or damaged will exceed $300 billion.”
“There are no immediate plans to evacuate the affected areas, and federal, state, and local authorities are prepared to assist in the recovery,” the Federal Emergency Ops Command said.