After rapidly elevating to a Category 4 hurricane Friday evening, Hurricane Harvey slammed into southeastern Texas just north of Corpus Christi near Rockport, making landfall around 10 p.m.
Heavy rains and 130-mile-an-hour winds pummeled the mid-Texas coast, prompting President Donald Trump to sign a federal disaster declaration late Friday night. More than 200,000 people in the area had lost power, according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas. Damage assessments have so far only been spotty given how late Harvey rolled in, but Rockport city officials have reported a caved in roof at the local high school, and that after a roof collapsed at a senior living facility, ten people were taken to the jail for medical treatment. No deaths have been reported. Update, 4:43 p.m.: Rockport officials now say one person has died in the storm, and up to 14 have been injured.
In Fort Bend County, a possible tornado ripped through Sienna Plantation, damaging approximately 50 homes, according to the Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office. Update, 10:36 a.m.: The National Weather Service has confirmed a tornado was responsible for the damage. Saturday morning neighbors walked the streets surveying downed fences and blown over trees.
Blue tarps were sprouting up from several roofs and the sounds of hammering reverberated through the neighborhood as homeowners hustled to get coverage in place before conditions worsen again.
Homeowner Chris Wallace said the tornado hit at 1:01 a.m. He and his wife had been had been staying up late, worried about the projected path of the high winds. Right before it hit, he said, "We called the kids down and said you're sleeping downstairs tonight."
Picking up broken glass on his front yard, he was surrounded by toppled trees that littered his yard. "Some broke off; some just lifted up out of the ground." He said there had been no damage to the inside of the house and appeared to be taking what happened in stride, as part of living on the Texas Gulf Coast.
Next door neighbors Dennis and Nataliya Scheib also got hit by the tornado, causing roof, landscape and fence damage. "I have a two thousand pound fireplace in the backyard. The winds just moved it over."
The continuing dangers of the debris left behind were underscored when a young girl drove a nail into her foot when she stepped on it while looking at the damage and was taken for emergency treatment.
As of 7 a.m., the National Weather Service downgraded Harvey to a Category 1 hurricane as it weakened in strength steadily overnight. Harvey is now headed northwest, toward Victoria, taking its time at only 6 miles per hour. Sustained winds are up to 80 miles per hour. Harvey's expected to slowly meander and hover in southeastern Texas while it continues to move inland, maximizing rainfall amounts as a result; places as far as San Antonio are under a tropical storm warning.
Houston, also under a tropical storm warning, woke up to flash flood warnings Saturday morning and a tornado watch, with most of Houston seeing rainfall totals between 1 and 3 inches overnight and places in west and south Harris County receiving as much as 3 to 6 inches already, according to the Harris County Flood Control District. The heavy rains are forecast to continue throughout the day, and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner has advised people to stay off the roads. Matt Lanza of Space City Weather said to expect 4 to 8 inches to dump on Houston throughout the day. The worst is yet to come for Houston, as the eye of the storm is not expected to make it to the Galveston and Houston area until Tuesday—meaning Sunday and Monday will only get wetter as Houston remains east of Harvey.
In all, Harvey is expect to heap 15 to 30 inches in all areas along the coast, with up to 40 inches in isolated places, through Wednesday.
Over the weekend, municipal courts are closed, all park events are canceled, all Houston ISD has canceled its events and activities, all Solid Waste Department recycling depositories are closed until further notice, the BARC animal shelter is closed, and the Theatre District open house is canceled, along with many other closures. If you have somewhere to be, check first to make sure it hasn't been postponed or canceled.
So far, the flash flood warning for Houston extends to 11:30 a.m. Saturday—but don't expect it to go away for good.
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