The Latest: Texas cities start assessing hurricane damage – Washington Post
Emergency personnel in Aransas County, Texas, are assessing damage reports from Hurricane Harvey as they are able.
Rockport Volunteer Fire Department spokeswoman Gillian Cox tells the Corpus Christi Caller-Times that the roof of Rockport’s high school has partially caved in. But Cox says social media posts that the school has “disappeared” are inaccurate.
Rockport City Manager Kevin Carruth tells the newspaper that the courthouse in the city about 30 miles (48 kilometers) northeast of Corpus Christi also has sustained major damage. Carruth says that a cargo trailer is halfway in the building.
Officials about 10 miles (16 kilometers) away in Aransas Pass say the Harbor Master Building along its coast has been destroyed. The Aransas Pass Police Department posted a video on its Facebook page of the building folding up from the high speed winds.
The city manager in Rockport, Texas, says multiple people have been taken to the county’s jail for assessment and treatment after the roof of a senior housing complex collapsed.
KIII-TV reports that 10 people have been treated in Rockport since Hurricane Harvey slammed into the Gulf Coast city Friday night. The Associated Press was unable to reach an operator at the Aransas County Detention Center in Rockport just after midnight.
City manager Kevin Carruth tells the station that Rockport’s historic downtown area also has seen heavy damage. He says there also are reports of damage to vehicles and roofs.
Harvey is lashing a wide swath of southeast Texas with strong winds and torrential rain as the fiercest hurricane to hit the U.S. in more than a decade.
Rockport, Texas, officials are receiving reports of damage from Hurricane Harvey, but emergency officials are having trouble responding.
Rockport City Manager Kevin Carruth said by phone that he had heard reports of a tree falling into a mobile home and roofs collapsing on houses. The city, about 31 miles (50 kilometers) northeast of Corpus Christi, had peak wind surges of more than 125 miles per hour, according to National Weather Service reports.
Volunteer Fire Department Chief Steve Sims says there are about 15 volunteer firefighters hunkered down at the city’s fire station waiting for conditions to improve enough for their vehicles to safely travel and to assess the damage to the city of about 10,000 people.
“There’s nothing we can do at this moment. We are anxious to get out there and make assessments, but we’re hunkered down for now,” he said.
Hurricane Harvey has landed.
The National Hurricane Center says the eye of the Category 4 hurricane made landfall about 10 p.m. Friday about 30 miles east-northeast of Corpus Christi between Port Aransas and Port O’Connor, Texas, bringing with it 130 mph (209 kph) sustained winds and flooding rains.
The storm quickly grew Thursday from a tropical depression into a Category 1 hurricane, and then developed into a Category 2 storm early Friday. By Friday afternoon, it had become a Category 3 storm before strengthening to a Category 4. Harvey is the first Category 4 hurricane to hit the Texas coast since Hurricane Carla in 1961.
This item corrects 30 mph to 30 miles in 2nd paragraph.
President Donald Trump says he has signed a disaster declaration for Texas as Hurricane Harvey nears on the middle Texas coast.
Trump announced his declaration in a posting on his Twitter account.
At 9 p.m., the National Hurricane Center said the storm was “almost onshore” with 130 mph (215 kmh) sustained winds.
A center statement said a station at Aransas Pass run by the Texas Coastal Observing Network had reported a sustained wind of 102 mph (165 kmh) with a gust to 120 mph (193 kmh).
An elected official in the Texas Gulf Coast town near where Hurricane Harvey is expected to reach land says residents who chose to stay should write their Social Security numbers on their arms.
Patrick Rios, the mayor pro tem in Rockport, told KIII-TV of Corpus Christi earlier Friday that Harvey “is a life-threatening storm.”
He says those who stay “should make some type of preparation to mark their arm with a Sharpie pen,” implying that they should make it easier for rescuers to identify them.
Local officials along the Texas coast urged residents to take precautions and, if they were in the direct path of the storm, to evacuate. Thousands of people have headed north so far.
Hurricane Harvey is on the verge of landfall on the middle Texas Gulf coast.
The National Hurricane Center reported at 8 p.m. CDT Friday that the storm’s eyewall had begun coming ashore with 130 mph winds.
The NHC defines the eyewall as a ring of clouds that surround the eye of the cyclone. Landfall is when the eye reaches the coast.
Harvey strengthened rapidly late this week from a tropical depression to a dangerous Category 4 hurricane.
Officials said they had no idea how many Corpus Christi residents heeded their urge to voluntary evacuate the city of 325,000 and nearby low-lying areas taking the brunt of the storm.
Nueces County spokesman Tyner Little said traffic inland “was not hugely heavy as we’ve seen with other hurricanes.”
He said the local sheriff said 90 percent of Port Aransas had left.
Nevertheless, Little said county officials were “kind of freaked out” because the hurricane was tracking closer to Corpus Christi than officials had expected.
Driving into the city on an empty interstate Friday evening, a reporter saw flames flaring from a half-dozen stacks, casting an eerie glow beneath scudding, slate gray hurricane clouds.
Harvey went from not even a tropical storm to a major Category 4 hurricane in 56 hours, an incredibly fast intensification for a storm.
On Wednesday at 10 am CDT, the National Hurricane Center said Harvey — which had been a tropical storm that faded away on Aug. 19 — had reformed as a tropical depression, a step below a named storm. Harvey’s maximum winds were 35 mph.
And by 6 p.m. CDT Friday, Harvey was a Category 4 hurricane with 130 mph winds and knocking on the Texas coast as what will likely be the strongest hurricane to hit the US in about 13 years.
As Hurricane Harvey heads toward the Texas coast, a Corpus Christi official says he’s confident the city pumps would clear out floodwater if the storm surge inundates the downtown area behind the seawall.
Mark Van Vleck, assistant city manager for public works, says that the pumps are on back-up emergency generators.
He says, “We have put most things on emergency generators that need to. Now we’re just following the plan.”
His biggest concern was the wind knocking out power and topping trees, adding, “and then after that it will be the heavy rains.”
Some spots in Texas and Louisiana are offering free or discounted places for Hurricane Harvey evacuees to stay.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott Friday afternoon opened Texas state parks to hurricane evacuees to camp for free. Several parks on the coast and in South Texas have been closed for the hurricane, but the Texas Parks and Wildlife department posted a map of available camping sites away from the path of the hurricane to its website .
The Texas Association of Campground Owners says they have identified 12 campgrounds and RV parks with space for Hurricane Harvey evacuees as well and urged people to check www.texascampgrounds.com and www.texascabinrentals.com for spaces.
Vacation rental company Airbnb says it has started connecting evacuees and relief workers with short-term lodging with its hosts free of charge as part of its Disaster Response Program through its website.
Louisiana’s Office of Parks announced Friday that evacuees can stay at cabins or campsites in any of eight north Louisiana state parks for half price. Cabins are available at six of the sites. Campsites are available at all eight.
As Hurricane Harvey approaches the Texas coast, Federal Emergency Management Agency officials say if a shelter in place order is issued, residents should immediately take action to do so.
FEMA on Friday urged residents to charge cell phones and to download the agency’s phone app, follow them on Twitter at @FEMAregion6 or follow FEMA on Facebook.
Six federal Urban Search and Rescue task forces have been staged in San Antonio in preparation. Other support personnel as well as National Flood Insurance program officials have been stationed in other areas of Texas.
The agency has set up support bases near Seguin, Texas, and other areas closer to the projected hurricane path to store supplies including more than 96,000 liters of water, 306,000 meals and 4,500 tarps and blankets. State, local and tribal officials will be responsible for distributing those materials as requested and needed.
The National Hurricane Center says Hurricane Harvey has strengthened to a Category 4 storm.
The center says Harvey has sustained wind speeds of 130 mph (209 kph) as the powerful storm churns off the Texas coast. Forecasters are labeling it a “life-threatening storm.”
The storm quickly grew Thursday from a tropical depression into a Category 1 hurricane, and then developed into a Category 2 storm early Friday. By Friday afternoon, it had become a Category 3 storm before strengthening to a Category 4. It’s forecast to make landfall in Texas late Friday or early Saturday.
The storm is 45 miles (72 kilometers) east of Corpus Christi.
Hurricane Harvey looks to hit about the same area as one of the strongest and deadliest hurricanes to ever smack the United States: the Indianola Hurricane of 1886.
The National Hurricane Center says the Indianola hurricane ranks as the fifth strongest hurricane to make U.S. landfall, behind the 1935 Keys hurricane, 1969’s Camille, 2006’s Katrina and 1992’s Andrew. About 150 people died, putting it in the top 25 most fatal hurricanes.
MIT meteorology professor Kerry Emanuel says Indianola was a thriving city before it was struck and it never came back. According to Texas Escapes magazine, it’s now pretty much a ghost town.
Emanuel says that Harvey “is going around the same place.”
More than 15,000 people aboard three Carnival Cruise Line ships scheduled to return to Galveston, Texas, this weekend face delays or detours due to Hurricane Harvey in the Gulf of Mexico. The Port of Galveston was closed Friday amid the hurricane threat.
A statement Friday 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. Both ships were originally scheduled to dock in Galveston on Saturday but will instead stop in New Orleans to replenish supplies.
The Carnival Freedom and the Carnival Valor each carry about 4,800 passengers and crew. The statement says they’ll resume their return to Galveston as soon as possible.
The Carnival Breeze was scheduled to return to Galveston on Sunday. It’s spending Friday night in Cozumel, Mexico. That ship has more than 6,000 on board. The Carnival statement said the ship would depart Saturday for Texas to be in position when the Port of Galveston reopens.
The National Hurricane Center says that sustained hurricane-force winds are about to move onshore as Hurricane Harvey nears landfall on the Texas coast.
The center said late Friday afternoon that a sustained wind of 67 mph (108 kph) with a gust up to 81 mph (130 kph) has been reported at Aransas Pass.
Harvey is expected to make landfall overnight, bringing life-threatening storm surge, rainfall and wind to portions of the Texas coast.
Officials say rain from Hurricane Harvey could inundate Houston roads and neighborhoods as early as Saturday night.
Jeff Lindner, a meteorologist with the Harris County Flood Control District, said Friday that two key reservoirs in the flood control system — at the Addicks and Barker dams — are currently near-empty and are in no danger of flooding neighborhoods close by. The district has electronic sensors installed along Houston’s bayous and waterways.
Lindner did not single out neighborhoods in Houston, saying all of the nation’s fourth-largest city and its outlying areas face flooding in a storm as large as Harvey.
Houston is notoriously flood-prone and forecast to receive steady rain for several days into next week.
As Hurricane Harvey nears landfall, Harris County’s top elected official says he isn’t calling for an evacuation for residents of the county that includes Houston and many of its suburbs. That’s despite Texas Gov. Greg Abbott suggesting people in Houston should head north, away from the Texas Gulf Coast.
Ed Emmett, the Harris County judge, says that while the hurricane is expected to dump lots of rain on Houston, the city isn’t expected to receive large amounts of storm surge as well. Other communities on the Texas coast are expecting that.
Emmett said he had spoken to Abbott Friday afternoon and acknowledged residents of the nation’s fourth-largest city might have gotten a “mixed message.” But he said residents should stay put, in part because it’s too early for officials to determine where the most flooding would occur.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner asked people in the city to stay in their homes and off the roads to the extent possible. He said there might be a “greater danger” in having people who don’t need to be evacuated onto roads that could flood.
Houston officials are showing signs of frustration after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott urged anyone who can to evacuate before Hurricane Harvey arrives.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner on Friday tweeted “please think twice before trying to leave Houston en masse.” His plea came shortly after Abbott held a news conference urging Gulf Coast residents to pack up and leave, whether or not their cities are under evacuation orders.
The spokesman of emergency operations in Houston’s Harris County was even more direct. Francisco Sanchez tweeted: LOCAL LEADERS KNOW BEST.
No evacuation orders have been issued for Houston. The mixed signals between the Texas governor and local officials are emerging just hours before Harvey is expected to make landfall as a Category 3 storm.
Abbott has repeatedly suggested since Thursday that not enough people are evacuating. But state officials also say they have no count on how many people have actually left their homes.