Ascension Parish officials said Thursday they will "max out" the fuel for the parish's critical east bank pumping stations and will install additional portable pumps in neighborhoods known for flooding problems in preparation for Tropical Storm Harvey.  

Meanwhile, parish officials are monitoring inland waterway and low-lying areas to determine when to start pumping operations and expect one of those stations, in Sorrento, could fire up as soon as Thursday afternoon.

Ascension Parish President Kenny Matassa has ordered portable pumps for the Buxton subdivision in St. Amant, the Southwood subdivision in Gonzales and the Astroland subdivision near Darrow, parish officials said in a statement.

Martin McConnell, spokesman for parish government, said those pumps are on standby and will be delivered as needed. 

"We're ready to be ready," McConnell said.

Harvey, which was upgraded last night from a tropical depression to a tropical storm, is expected to hit the south-central Texas coast between late Friday and early Saturday and be a "major hurricane" with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph, the National Hurricane Center reported Thursday morning. But the storm is expected to stall in the mid-Texas coast and drop 12 to 20 inches of rain, with isolated amounts of 30 inches possible in some areas. 

Southwest and central Louisiana could see 5 to 12 inches of rain from the system, the Hurricane Center said.

In Baton Rouge and New Orleans, rainfall estimates were between 4 and 6 inches on Thursday morning. In the Baton Rouge area, that's potentially slightly less than earlier forecasts from Wednesday, which had top-end rainfall amounts at 10 inches.

Parish public works and homeland security officials have begun filing and transporting sandbags to fire stations.

Though some parts of populous eastern Ascension rely on gravity alone for drainage, most of that side of the parish counts on two major pump systems to move water: the Marvin J. Braud Pumping Station in the McElroy Swamp in the farther southeast of the parish and the Sorrento pump station inside the town of the same name.

Additional pumps are also at the Henderson Bayou floodgate in Galvez, but those pumps' function differs from that of the parish's other stations. Those pumps are only used when backwater flooding happens and the floodgate must be closed. In those conditions, the parish uses the pumps to keep up with rainfall trapped behind the closed gate.  

Follow David J. Mitchell on Twitter, @NewsieDave.