TEHRAN, August 27 - Harvey, Now a Tropical Storm, Carves a Path of Destruction Through Texas
Texans who rode out the most powerful hurricane to hit the United States in a decade ventured out to see what was left of their neighborhoods in what was "now turning into a deadly inland event."
The first fatality was reported in the hard-hit coastal city of Rockport, where the person died in a house fire during the storm, Aransas County Judge Burt Mills said Saturday afternoon. "We didn't know about it until today," he said.
At least a dozen people were injured, Mills said.
With dire warnings of tornadoes, torrential downpours and days of flooding to come, broad swaths of southeast Texas were littered with uprooted trees, toppled signs, flagpoles that snapped like toothpicks and clusters of bricks peeled like scabs from walls and rooftops.
Additional fatalities were feared in Rockport, where an estimated 5,000 residents had stayed put for the storm that blasted ashore as a Category 4 around 11 p.m. ET Friday between Port Aransas and Port O'Connor, Aransas County Sheriff Bill Mills said.
Callers to the local emergency dispatch line told of walls and roofs collapsing on people across the city, where an official had warned those who opted to stick out the storm to write their Social Security numbers on their arms for body identification.
CNN meteorologist and severe weather expert Chad Myers warned residents of Houston to move to higher ground.
"The storm isn't moving, but the rain bands are moving like a pinwheel," he said. "You are going to get a pinwheel (Saturday night) that will wake up -- or you'll wake up with 12-18 inches of new rainfall on the ground."
The National Weather Service issued a flash flood emergency for portions of Brazoria, Fort Bend and Harris counties. A slow-moving line of storms capable of producing 3 to 4 inches of rain per hour is deluging the region.
Shortly after Harvey became a tropical storm, with sustained winds of 70 mph, Saturday afternoon, Gov. Greg Abbott told reporters that the state had more than 1,000 workers involved in search and rescue operations.
"There's been widespread devastation," Rockport Mayor Charles Wax told CNN late Saturday morning. He said emergency workers were going house to house to check on residents and assess damage.
"We've already taken a severe blow from the storm, but we're anticipating another one when the flooding comes," he said.
The storm was a Category 1 by late Saturday morning, packing winds of 75 mph before Harvey stalled during the afternoon. Some places even far inland were predicted to get as much as 40 inches of rain through Wednesday.
While the worst of the storm surge had ended by midday Saturday, the coastal flooding threat was due to increase as already-swollen rivers and bayous get pounded with heavy rain, CNN meteorologist Michael Guy said. Sea water pushed onto the shore also won't recede quickly, he said, meaning "this is going to be a long, ongoing flood event."
Abbott said the 210-mile-long corridor between Corpus Christi and Houston was expected to receive as much as 30 more inches of rain on top of the double-digit rainfall figures that had already fallen.
A Texas Army National Guard helicopter stands by in a parking lot in Rockport, Tex., ready to evacuate residents injured by the storm on Saturday
Sources: CNN/ NBC News/ NewYorkTimes