Harvey slams Texas Gulf Coast, killing 1

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (AP/WFLA) — Harvey spun deeper into Texas and unloaded extraordinary amounts of rain Saturday after the once-fearsome hurricane crashed into vulnerable homes and businesses along the coastline in a blow that killed at least one person and injured up to 14.

Throughout the region between Corpus Christi and Houston, many people feared that toll was only the beginning. They did not know the full scope of damage already done, and they dreaded the destruction that was yet to come from a storm that could linger for days and unload more than 40 inches of rain on cities, including dangerously flood-prone Houston, the nation’s fourth-largest.

“While Harvey’s winds are expected to diminish some through the rest of the weekend, very heavy rainfall will lead to life threatening flooding across parts of southeastern TX. Forecast models show the storm moving very little over the next several days. Because of Harvey’s lack of motion and proximity to the Gulf, extreme rainfall totals of 15-30″ are expected with localized amounts up to 40 inches through Friday,” said Storm Team 8 Meteorologist Ian Oliver and Chief Meteorologist Steve Jerve.

Radar from Max Defender 8 was tracking the storm all night as it made landfall in Texas and eventually weakened as it moved inland.

“Harvey may be weakening, but life-threatening hazards will continue into next week,” said Storm Team 8 Meteorologist Ed Bloodsworth and Chief Meteorologist Steve Jerve. “As the storm slows down, it will likely dump 15-25 inches of rain over Texas and Louisiana through Thursday of next week. Some isolated spots could exceed 35 inches of rain.”

Long after the system came ashore, weather conditions prevented emergency crews from getting into many of the hardest-hit places.

In the island community of Port Aransas, population 3,800, officials were unable to fully survey the town because of “massive” damage. Police and heavy equipment had only made it into the northernmost street. Mayor Charles Bujan had few other details.

“I can tell you I have a very bad feeling and that’s about it,” he said.

Some of the worst damage appeared to be in Rockport, a coastal city of about 10,000 that was directly in the storm’s path. The mayor said his community took a blow “right on the nose” that left “widespread devastation,” including homes, businesses and schools that were heavily damaged. Some structures were destroyed.

Rockport’s roads were a mess of toppled power poles. A trailer blocked much of one major intersection. Pieces of 100-year-old oak trees impeded the slow passage of emergency vehicles. Wood framing from ripped-apart houses was strewn along Route 35 on the town’s southern end.

Harvey’s relentless wind tore the metal sides off the high school gym and twisted the steel door frame of its auditorium. The windows of some police vehicles had been blown out.

“We’re still in the very infancy stage of getting this recovery started,” said Larry Sinclair, the Aransas County spokesman.

Rockport Mayor Charles “C.J.” Wax told The Weather Channel that the city’s emergency response system had been hampered by the loss of cellphone service and other forms of communication.

On Friday, Rockport Mayor Pro Tem Patrick Rios offered ominous advice, telling the station that people who chose not to evacuate should mark their arm with a Sharpie pen, implying that the marks would make it easier for rescuers to identify them.

Citing a county judge, the Austin American-Statesman reported one death from Harvey in Rockport, and 12 to 14 people injured.

In Port Aransas, the mayor had called for a mandatory evacuation and said he knew some people had stayed, but he did not know how many.

Elsewhere in the storm’s immediate aftermath, Coast Guard helicopters rescued 18 people from boats and barges in distress, said Capt. Tony Hahn, commander of the Corpus Christi sector.

The city’s port was closed and will need a lot of repairs before it can reopen. Because Corpus Christi is the third-largest petrochemical port in the nation, authorities will also be on the lookout for spills, Hahn said.

The fiercest hurricane to hit the U.S. in more than a decade came ashore late Friday about 30 miles (48 kilometers) northeast of Corpus Christi as a mammoth Category 4 storm with 130 mph (209 kph) winds.

By dawn, nearly 300,000 consumers were without power in the coastal region, and nearly 20 inches (0.5 meters) of rain had fallen in some places.

Harvey weakened to a tropical storm by early afternoon. At 4 p.m., its maximum sustained winds had fallen to about 65 mph (104 kph). The storm was centered about 60 miles (97 kilometers) southeast of San Antonio. It was moving north at 2 mph (3 kph), the hurricane center said.

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