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Texas governor declares state of disaster in 23 counties as two storms approach

2 storms threaten the Gulf Coast
2 storms threaten the Gulf Coast 01:41

Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Sunday declared a disaster declaration in 23 counties as approaching storms are expected to impact the state. Hurricane Marco and Tropical Storm Laura — both forecast to make landfall this week — will be arriving as the area continues to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

"It is incredibly important for anybody who could be in the path of these storms to constantly heed local warnings about what could happen in your community," Abbott said Sunday at a press conference. "Understand this is very swift-moving and there could be rising water very quickly."

The National Hurricane Center upgraded Marco to a hurricane Sunday afternoon, with maximum sustained winds of 75 miles per hour; they warned it could bring "life-threatening" storm surge.

Marco is expected to make a direct hit on Louisiana on Monday, hitting New Orleans with hurricane-force winds and dumping several inches of rain throughout the area and into North Texas. As of Sunday afternoon, the storm was located about 395 miles southeast of Lafayette.

The National Hurricane Center said Sunday that the combination of dangerous storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline. Generally 2-4 feet of storm surge is possible, with some isolated pockets getting up to 6 feet.

Then Tropical Storm Laura is expected to strike western Louisiana and the Texas coast on Wednesday, possibly as a strong hurricane. While the exact trajectory of the storm is still not known, it's likely to hit the Beaumont, Texas, area, although it could hit as far east as Louisiana, or further to the west.

Haiti Tropical Weather
Street vendors protect themselves against the rain from Tropical Storm Laura in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Sunday, August 23, 2020. Dieu Nalio Chery / AP

At least five people, including a 10-year-old girl, were killed as Laura struck Haiti this weekend, according to the country's civil protection agency. Another two people were killed in the Dominican Republic.

As of 2 p.m. Sunday, Laura was located about 55 miles south of the eastern tip of Cuba. It had maximum winds of 50 miles per hour. 

Texas, meanwhile, is still reporting a coronavirus test positivity rate of more than 12%, with an estimated 115,000 active cases of the virus in the state, according to the Texas Department of Public Health. Houston remains the epicenter of the state's crisis, with more than 26,000 of those active cases reported in Harris County.

Texas prepares for 2 incoming storms 14:49

Jeff Berardelli contributed reporting.

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