COVER: Traffic lights lie on a street after being knocked down, as Hurricane Harvey approaches in Corpus Christi on Aug. 25. PHOTO by ANDRES LATIF/REUTERS
by EDGAR WALTERS and BOBBY BLANCHARD
Hurricane Harvey, the most powerful storm to strike Texas since 1961, slammed the Texas coastline late Friday and early Saturday, leaving thousands without power, damaging buildings and pouring down rain that is expected to cause catastrophic flooding in coming days.
The storm was downgraded to a Category 1 hurricane — with sustained winds of 85 miles per hour — Saturday morning after making landfall near Rockport as a Category 4 storm and heading inland.
As wind speeds diminished, however, the slow-moving storm continued to deluge wide swaths of coastal Texas, and the National Hurricane Center predicts catastrophic flooding over the coming days. The National Weather Service has issued flash-flood warnings for Houston and its surrounding areas.
As of Saturday morning, more than 200,000 Texans had lost power, according to the Electric Reliability Council, which operates the state’s power grid.
The storm first made landfall around 10 p.m. Friday with wind speeds around 130 miles per hour. Local news reports from Rockport indicated many buildings were damaged overnight. After a roof collapsed at a senior housing complex, at least 10 people there were taken to a nearby jail for treatment. A portion of Rockport High School caved in.
In Fort Bend County, near Houston, county officials said a possible tornado damaged homes and downed trees, the Houston Chronicle reported.
Gov. Greg Abbott announced Friday night that President Donald Trump and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, had approved the state’s request for a disaster declaration, which includes funding to provide “individual assistance, public assistance and hazard mitigation” in Texas.
“The White House is fully engaged, very helpful and very concerned about the people of Texas,” Abbott told Fox News late Friday. “Texas has received everything that we asked for from the White House.”
The governor is scheduled to give an update on the storm Saturday afternoon in Austin. Check back here for updates.
EDGAR WALTERS and BOBBY BLANCHARD report for The Texas Tribune where this story was originally published. It is made available here through a news partnership between the Texas Tribune and the San Marcos Mercury.