SOUTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM/AP) – Hurricane Harvey, a Category 4 hurricane, made landfall Friday night.
The hurricane lashed a wide swath of the Gulf Coast with strong winds and torrential rain from the fiercest hurricane to hit the U.S. in more than a decade.
The National Hurricane Center said the eye of the hurricane made landfall about 30 miles northeast of Corpus Christi between Port Aransas and Port O’Connor, bringing with it 130 mph sustained winds and flooding rains.
Harvey’s approach sent tens of thousands of residents fleeing the Gulf Coast, hoping to escape the wrath of an increasingly menacing storm set to slam an area of Texas that includes oil refineries, chemical plants and dangerously flood-prone Houston, the nation’s fourth-largest city.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency granted Governor Greg Abbott’s Request for a Presidential Disaster Declaration in response to Hurricane Harvey, the Governor’s office announced shortly before 9:00 p.m.
Earlier Friday, the Governor requested the declaration in order to provide Individual Assistance, Public Assistance and Hazard Mitigation to Texas communities affected by Harvey to help rebuild lives in the aftermath of this devastating storm. Governor Abbott issued the following statement:
“I want to thank the President and FEMA for their quick response in granting this disaster declaration. We will continue to work with our federal and local partners on all issues relating to this storm, and I encourage Texans to continue heeding all warnings from local officials.”
President Trump tweeted about it Friday evening:
Gov. Abbott warned during a news conference Friday afternoon that the monster system would be “a very major disaster,” and the predictions drew fearful comparisons to Hurricane Katrina, one of the deadliest ever to strike the U.S.
The city manager in Rockport, Texas told CBS News late Friday night, people are trapped inside of senior housing complex where roof collapsed and rescuers are unable to get in.
Meantime, about an hour after the hurricane made landfall, a tornado warning was issued in Galveston County by the National Weather Service.
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.
The suspension will last 14 days from the day Governor Abbott issued his 30-countywide Disaster Declaration according to a news release from the Governor’s office Friday evening.
Meantime, an elected official in Rockport 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 has also prompted Vice President Mike Pence and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz to cancel appearances Saturday at a Republican fundraiser in Nevada where one of the GOP’s most vulnerable senators, Dean Heller, is embroiled in a bitter primary his challenger says is a test of their allegiance to President Trump.
Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt, who is hosting the 3rd annual Basque Fry on a ranch near Carson City, said he talked to Pence and Cruz on Friday about the catastrophic effects the hurricane could have on Texas.
“Together, the vice president and Sen. Cruz have decided it would be most appropriate to cancel their trip to Nevada and focus their time and attention on the people affected by this storm,” Laxalt said.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)