One dead as Harvey continues to churn over Texas

Posted on: August 26th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas) —  Though Hurricane Harvey weakened to a tropical storm by Saturday afternoon, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott warned of additional downpours forecast to drench already-flooded communities in the coming hours and days.

“Our biggest concern is between 20 and 30 more inches of rain in areas ranging from Corpus Christi over to Houston,” Abbott said at a press conference Saturday afternoon. “We want to do everything we possibly can to keep people out of rising water.”

Abbott said search-and-rescue missions and cleanup efforts have already begun in some parts of Texas, after Harvey slammed into the state’s Gulf Coast Friday night as a Category 4 hurricane, unleashing a dangerous wrath of torrential rain and 130 mph winds. By Saturday afternoon, Harvey had gradually downgraded to a tropical storm as maximum sustained winds dropped to 70 mph, but the National Weather Service still warned of a “serious flooding event unfolding” inland over Texas.

As of 4p.m. local time, the storm had barely moved for hours, with the eye hovering about 45 miles away from Victoria, Texas.

Abbott, who visited with evacuees from the Corpus Christi area in San Antonio, said the displaced residents he met with are in “strong” spirits despite the damage done and the ominous forecast.

“They are what I call typical Texans. They were resilient, they were strong, they were strong-spirited, they were happy,” he told reporters at the press conference Saturday afternoon. “They were just happy to be there and be alive.”

But the Harvey has already proven to be deadly. In the Texas coastal city of Rockport, one person was confirmed dead Saturday afternoon as a result of the storm. More victims are likely, officials there said.

Although Harvey is projected to hover over southeastern Texas through the weekend, residents in hard-hit communities re-emerged Saturday to assess the damage and risk their lives to save others after a tumultuous night of rain, wind and reported tornadoes.

Here’s what you need to know about the strongest storm to hit the Lone Star State in decades:

What’s ahead: Rain, flooding, tornadoes

What can Texans expect from this storm as it hovers over the region? Rain — and lots of it.

At 2:30 a.m. local time Saturday, as much as 9.6 inches of rain had already fallen in Texas. Around 9:30 a.m. local time Saturday, 14.46 inches of rain had accumulated in an area in Austwell and more than 10 inches was recorded in Fulshear, according to the National Weather Service in Corpus Christi.

Although Harvey is expected to weaken further, it will also slow down and meander between Victoria and San Antonio through the weekend.

“We are still expecting 25 to 30 inches [of rain] across southeast Texas,” ABC News Meteorologist Daniel Manzo said Saturday. “This is in addition to what has already fallen this morning.”

Flash-flood watches and warnings were in effect Saturday for much of southeastern Texas.

The latest forecast track shows Harvey heading back toward the coastline and interacting with the warm waters of the Gulf Coast early next week. This means areas that were already hit hard along the Texas coast should expect even more rain and wind, setting the stage for potentially catastrophic flooding.

Harvey is projected to take off Wednesday heading northeast and move further inland into Texas, but stay west of Houston.

The storm is an evolving system, and its track could change.

A flash flood warning was in effect Saturday for several Texas communities, including Portland, Ingleside and Rockport, according to the National Weather Service.

Tornadoes are also a concern because there is a high risk of them in the region.

A tornado watch was issued Saturday in the early morning hours for parts of Texas and Louisiana. The warning was expanded inland and extended through much of Saturday, according to ABC News meteorologist Daniel Manzo.

ABC News affiliate KTRK-TV reported that a possible tornado was spotted in Texas’ Fort Bend County. KTRK also reported tonado damage to as many as 50 homes in Missouri City.

Injured residents

The full extent of injuries in Texas overnight remains unclear. Around midnight local time, Rockport City Manager Kevin Carruth said a total of 10 people were being treated for injuries stemming from Harvey.

Among the wounded were those at a senior housing complex, where the roof collapsed. Rescuers were able to transport the injured to a local jail that was serving as a makeshift medical center, Carruth said.

Abbott said at the press conference Saturday afternoon that he could not confirm any fatalities from the storm. However, officials later confirmed that one person was dead in Rockport as a result of the storm.

Damaged structures

In Rockport, some 31 miles northeast of Corpus Christi, the city manager told ABC News that multiple buildings had been damaged, including the courthouse and the public school. The coastal community experienced peak wind surges of more than 125 mph overnight, according to the National Weather Service.

Rockport Volunteer Fire Department Chief Steve Sims told ABC News early Saturday that about 22 firefighters were still hunkered down at the local fire station. The department has about 25 to 30 pending calls, and firefighters are anxious to help, Sims said, but they aren’t able to respond until weather conditions improve and it’s safe for them to travel.

Sims said search-and-rescue missions, as well as an assessment of the damage to the city of about 10,000 people, won’t likely launch until later Saturday morning.

“We’re unable to get out on the streets yet,” Sims told ABC News. “As soon as the weather permits us, the winds get anywhere reasonable. We have been working on lists trying to prioritize the calls that we have waiting.”

Fortunately, Sims said, the firehouse has fared well in the storm thus far.

“It rattled, it shook, but made it through it,” he said.

Meanwhile, images out of Corpus Christi showed flooded streets, destroyed buildings and debris.

In Missouri City, a reporter with ABC News affiliate KTRK-TV tweeted photos of downed trees and houses without roofs.

MAJOR TORNADO DAMAGE in Sienna Plantation (Missouri City) roofs blown off, lots of big trees down. @abc13houston #HurricaneHarvey

— Foti Kallergis (@FotiABC13) August 26, 2017

In Fort Bend County, Major Chad Norvell of the sheriff’s office tweeted, “Confirmed roof torn off by possible tornado on Vieux Carre in Sienna. Minor injuries reported.”

A subsequent tweet said, “Minor damage to other homes in Sienna. Trees down.”

Confirmed roof torn off by possible tornado on Vieux Carre in Sienna. Minor injuries reported. @NWSHouston #HouWx

— Major Chad Norvell (@chad_norvell) August 26, 2017

Minor damage to other homes in Sienna. Trees down. @NWSHouston #HouWx

— Major Chad Norvell (@chad_norvell) August 26, 2017

In Victoria, an Exxon station was also damaged by severe winds, and street signs were strewn across thoroughfares.

Shooting wind at this gas station and it RIPPED the gas price sign right off. #Harvey #Victoria #abc13

— Courtney Fischer (@CourtneyABC13) August 26, 2017

FLYING DEBRIS: this is what I mean. Street sign came off and fell right in the middle of the road. Look up! #abc13 #Victoria

— Courtney Fischer (@CourtneyABC13) August 26, 2017

Power outages

As of 7 a.m. local time Saturday, some 293,000 customers were without power along Texas’ Gulf Coast due to Hurricane Harvey’s wrath, according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which manages the flow of electric power to 24 million Texas customers, representing 90 percent of the state’s electric load.

As of 7 a.m., approximately 293,000 customers are without power in the ERCOT region. 157 circuits are out of service. #HurricaneHarvey

— ERCOT (@ERCOT_ISO) August 26, 2017

ERCOT remains focused on maintaining system reliability as we prepare for the #hurricane’s impact. For updates, see

— ERCOT (@ERCOT_ISO) August 25, 2017

On Friday at 10:07 p.m. local time, around the time Harvey made landfall, the council said 104,000 customers were already without power.

How officials are responding

President Donald Trump tweeted Saturday morning that he’s “closely monitoring” the storm from Camp David, the rustic presidential retreat Camp David in Frederick County, Maryland.

Closely monitoring #HurricaneHarvey from Camp David. We are leaving nothing to chance. City, State and Federal Govs. working great together!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 26, 2017

In an earlier tweet, the president cheered on Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Brock Long.

You are doing a great job – the world is watching! Be safe.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 26, 2017

FEMA is also “closely” monitoring the storm and “working around the clock to prepare and support” efforts on the ground, Brock said in a tweet Friday morning.

Storm preparations began earlier this week in both Texas and Louisiana. As of Friday morning, FEMA had amassed more than 96,000 liters of water, 306,000 meals and 4,500 tarps at incident support bases in Seguin and Fort Worth, Texas, as well as in Camp Beauregard, Louisiana, should the states need them.

FEMA officials were also in New Orleans on Friday working to make sure the Louisiana city’s pumps are functioning in anticipation of the 7 to 10 inches of rainfall expected there. The National Guard had also readied 500,000 sandbags, FEMA said.

As of Saturday morning, the American Red Cross had opened 21 shelters where 1,352 people displaced by the storm were staying. A spokesperson for the organization told ABC News that they also have hundreds of trained disaster relief workers in Texas as well as truckloads of kitchen supplies, tens of thousands of ready-to-eat meals and trailers packed with shelter supplies that include cots and blankets.

Meanwhile, the Coast Guard responded to “vessels in distress” near Port Aransas on Saturday morning, after its Corpus Christi sector received “mayday notifications from crewmembers aboard the tugboats Belle Chase, Sandy Point and Sabine Pass.”

Two MH-65 Dolphin helicopter aircrews were deployed from the Coast Guard’s air station in Corpus Christi to assist the rescue.

“As information continues to come in to the Coast Guard, we continue to monitor and respond to any situations for safety of life at sea,” Capt. Tony Hahn, commander of Coast Guard Sector Corpus Christi, said in a statement Saturday morning.

Aircraft were also deployed from Corpus Christi “to conduct patrols and assess damage” in the area with the intent of reopening the port of Brownsville, the Coast Guard said while urging Texas residents to “stay safe and not venture out while storm damage is assessed.” Other crews in shallow-draft vessels, capable of responding in flooded urban areas, headed to parts of Texas and Louisiana.

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