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Posted: Sunday, August 27, 2017 12:09 PM

Updated: Sunday, August 27, 2017 12:09 PM

Hurricane Harvey Makes Landfall Twice In Texas As Category 4 Story, Downgraded To Category 1 Early Saturday;

Storm Still Deadly Threat To Life With Catastrophic Flooding, Powerful Wind Gusts, Tornadoes

By the time Hurricane Harvey was downgraded to a Category 1 storm early Saturday, it had already delivered a 1-2 punch to the Gulf Coast of Texas, making landfall twice, with powerful wind gusts and the threat of catastrophic flooding.

It was still threatening to be the most powerful storm to hit the Lone Star State in more than a decade.

Harvey arrived late Friday north of Corpus Christi as a Category 4 storm, packing 130 mph winds. It made a second landfall about three hours later, according to the National Hurricane Center.

By the time it was downgraded to Category 1, it was moving slowly over east Texas, at about 6 mph. But resulting floodwaters were expected to reach 6 to 12 feet above ground level along the coast, and as much as three feet of rain was expected in hardest-hit areas.
 

Rockport, a city of about 10,000 people, was among those areas. It saw damage to a senior center, high school and other structures.

"Right now we're still hunkered down and can't go anywhere,'' said Steve Sims, the volunteer fire chief in Rockport. "We've heard rumors of 1,000 different things, we can't confirm anything because we haven't seen anything. We know we've got a lot of problems, but we don't know what yet.''

Those problems, and more like them elsewhere in Texas, were anticipated at the White House, where President Trump cleared the way Friday for federal help.

"At the request of the Governor of Texas, I have signed the Disaster Proclamation, which unleashes the full force of government help!" President Donald Trump tweeted late Friday after speaking with Gov. Greg Abbott.

Authorities are anticipating extensive damage, including "structural damage to sturdy buildings" and "complete destruction of mobile homes," according to a bulletin from the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Corpus Christi. Damage is likely to be "greatly accentuated by large airborne projectiles. Locations may be uninhabitable for weeks or months." At least one county, Nueces, is expected to be without power for up to a week.

Corpus Christi officials sought to evacuate stranded residents on city buses.

"Anyone who shows up can get a ride," Lisa Oliver, of Corpus Christi Parks and Recreation Department, told the Caller-Times. "We just need your basic information and bring your personal belongings to stay at the shelter (in San Antonio)."

Olga Mendez, who remembers riding out storms as a young girl, waited to board a bus with her husband and their young daughter.

"My mom never leaves," Mendez told the paper. "We would just hide in the closet or the tub. But we know it's important to get out now."

In the state's flood-prone, largest city of Houston, officials, businesses and residents were urged to prepare ahead of Harvey. The city’s geography – it’s low-lying and most of the soil is clay - makes flooding a real problem.

When Tropical Storm Allison hit Houston in 2001, it was the most expensive storm in the state’s history. Floodwaters destroyed research projects and the Texas Medical Center, the largest medical complex in the world, lost about $2 billion in damage.

On Friday, William McKeon, president and CEO of TMC, told Fox News that it was all hands on deck.

“We’re here hunkered down,” McKeon said, added that he’s “never surprised by the weather in Texas.”

But it wasn't the initial punch of the fierce storm that had McKeon worried.

"The hurricane is elevating in strength over us," he said. "We're not so much concerned with the wind as we are with it stalling over us. It's daunting to think of how much rain we could get."

Other hospitals in the area have been evacuating patients, FOX7 Austin reported.

Ahead of Harvey, the city canceled two big concerts – Coldplay and Mary J. Blige, as well as the first day of school on Monday. Residents in Houston were urged to stock up on water, food and other essentials.

McKeon said the hospital had emergency plans in place and had been working with the city on communications and worst-case scenario preps. Some hospitals on the coast, meanwhile, have been evacuating patients, FOX7 Austin reported.

The "federal government is on site and ready to respond," President Trump said Friday.

The tweet from the president followed an earlier one in which he noted that he was "closely watching" the path of the hurricane.

"Just arrived at Camp David where I am closely watching the path and doings of Hurricane Harvey, as it strengthens to a Category 3," the president tweeted. "BE SAFE!"

Earlier on Friday, Trump said that he had spoke with Abbott and Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards and was monitoring the situation.

"I have spoken w/ @GovAbbott of Texas and @LouisianaGov Edwards. Closely monitoring #HurricaneHarvey developments & here to assist as needed," Trump tweeted.

Landfall was predicted for late Friday or early Saturday between Port O'Connor and Matagorda Bay, a 30-mile stretch of coastline about 70 miles northeast of Corpus Christi.


Harvey has been fueled by warm Gulf of Mexico waters.

To put the hurricane’s strength in perspective, superstorm Sandy, which wasn’t formally called a major hurricane and still devastated New York and New Jersey in 2012, didn’t have the high winds like Hurricane Harvey and lost tropical status by the time it hit land.

"We're forecasting continuing intensification right up until landfall," National Hurricane Center spokesman Dennis Feltgen said.

Abbott, who has activated about 700 National Guard members ahead of Hurricane Harvey’s arrival, said in a statement that Trump called him to pledge all available federal resources to assist in preparation, as well as rescue and recovery efforts. Abbott said he assured Trump that Texas was working hand-in-hand with local and federal partners.

“FEMA stands ready to support state, local and tribal officials as they prepare for Hurricane Harvey,” Brock Long of the Federal Emergency Management Agency said in a statement. “I encourage residents who will be affected to follow directions from their local officials. Know your threats, heed the warnings, and if you’re in the path of the storm, ensure your family is prepared for possible prolonged disruptions to normal services.”

More than 15,000 people aboard three Carnival Cruise Line ships scheduled to return to Galveston this weekend now face delays or detours due to the hurricane. The Port of Galveston was closed amid the threat of the hurricane on Friday.

A statement from the Miami-based cruise line says the Carnival Freedom and Carnival Valor were at sea and would remain a safe distance from the hurricane.

Fox News' Barnini Chakraborty and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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