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Parts Of Texas, Including Galveston, Brace For Hurricane Laura

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

More than a half-million people have now been ordered to evacuate the Texas and Louisiana coasts as Hurricane Laura approaches. The storm is expected to come ashore late tonight or early tomorrow morning as a major hurricane. In Texas, almost 400,000 people in the cities of Galveston, Beaumont and Port Arthur have been told to leave their homes. But as Florian Martin of Houston Public Media reports, some are staying behind and just hoping for the best.

FLORIAN MARTIN, BYLINE: At the RaceWay gas station on Galveston's Broadway Avenue, cars were occupying nearly every pump. Many were headed out of Galveston Island on Tuesday, but not all were evacuating.

WALTER ROWE: I'm not worried. It's kind of what happens down here.

MARTIN: Walter Rowe says he's lived here his entire life and has been through many hurricanes. He says he's only evacuated for Ike in 2008. He wasn't sure yet if he will this time.

ROWE: My trust and faith is in God, and I have to stand on that.

MARTIN: At another pump, Rick Duff was filling up his tank and a couple of canisters for his generator. He says he'll ride out the storm.

RICK DUFF: I've got shutters and hopefully have my generator ready, and that's about all I'm really doing. So cleaning up around the yard, making sure there's nothing that's going to blow around. And that's about it.

MARTIN: Duff says he just moved to Galveston two years ago and hasn't experienced a hurricane. But he says his house was built in the 1950s and has withstood several storms, so he's confident it will weather Laura, too.

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MARTIN: Down the road, Pablo Carcano was helping his uncle board up his furniture store.

PABLO CARCANO: We have a big glass window running along here, so it's easy to break, and we'd like to protect any furniture that we can.

MARTIN: Aside from strong winds, Laura might bring a life-threatening storm surge. Carcano says they flooded during Hurricane Ike despite being elevated. He says they'll load the more expensive furniture on a truck and leave the island before Laura gets closer.

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MARTIN: Others don't have a way to evacuate on their own. Madeleine McNeill lives in public housing and was waiting for a chartered bus to take her and others off the island.

MADELEINE MCNEILL: I'm in a wheelchair and I cannot take a taxi to wherever they're going to evacuate us. And I have no idea where they're going to evacuate us. It's a whole new change in a 78-year-old life.

MARTIN: Officials have ordered evacuations because the storm surge could be 13 feet or higher wherever Hurricane Laura comes ashore.

For NPR News, I'm Florian Martin in Galveston.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.