Texas museum to evacuate ahead of tropical storm

RELATED TOPICS: TEXAS | WEATHER | HISTORICAL | RAILFANING
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GalvestonTexas
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GALVESTON, Texas — With Tropical Storm Harvey bearing down on the U.S. Gulf Coast, the Galveston Railroad Museum is evacuating its collection to the Texas mainland.

Earlier in the week, Tropical Storm Harvey weakened as it made contact with southern Mexico. Late Wednesday afternoon, the remnants of the system regained strength and redeveloped into a tropical depression, prompting the National Weather Service to issue a Hurricane Watch for the Texas coast.

Museum executive director Morris S. Gould tells Trains News Wire that earlier in the week, staff and volunteers prepared and inspected the equipment and, if weather conditions worsened, were prepared to evacuate the moment they received permission to occupy BNSF Railway tracks.

Gould says that on Thursday morning, about half an hour after forecasters began to predict that Tropical Storm Harvey would continue to strengthen and make landfall as a Category 1 hurricane, museum executives made the decision to evacuate two F7 locomotives painted in the famed Santa Fe Warbonnet scheme, two chair cars, a dining car, and a sleeper car. The equipment will be stored in Houston in BNSF’s Pearland Yard, near Hobby Airport, and will likely be returned to the museum after danger from the storm has passed.

“We are expecting this to be primarily a rain event, but that’s still a shot in the dark as to the amount of rainfall, so we are going to err on the conservative side,” Gould says.

This isn’t the first time that the Galveston Railroad Museum has found itself in the path of a severe storm. In September 2008, the museum sustained $6.5 million in damage when Hurricane Ike brought high winds and about eight feet of floodwaters to their grounds. Since then, the museum has partnered with BNSF to practice a plan to evacuate its locomotives and historic rolling stock about 100 miles inland, should inclement weather threaten the grounds. The rehearsals typically take place in September and are often operated as rare-mileage passenger trains.

Class I railroads operating in the storm’s projected path are also bracing for service delays and the possibility of damage to their infrastructure. Union Pacific posted a service alert that noted “delays to rail traffic should be anticipated, especially in areas receiving heavy rainfall. To mitigate service impact, Union Pacific has activated its hurricane response plan, which includes strategically staging resources such as ballast, pumps, locomotives, generators and work crews throughout the affected region.”

KCS spokesperson Doniele Carlson tells Trains News Wire that “As we enter hurricane season, we always keep a close eye on weather that could impact our network….We stage resources and materials ahead of such events to minimize disruptions should any of our rail line be impacted.”

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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