Harvey Drenches: Flash Flood Warning For Central Texas, Flash Flood Emergency In Houston
Updated at 11:30 p.m.
One person is dead in Rockport in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Harvey, according Aransas County officials. Another person is confirmed dead in Houston, as unprecedented rainfall brings flooding across Southeast Texas. As it continues to linger, state officials are urging Texans to expect persistent rains and underscoring the potential for life-threatening floods for the next few days across the state. Hundreds of thousands are without power along the coast, where cleanup efforts are just beginning.
Parts of the Houston area are under a flash flood emergency, as 3 to 4 inches of rain have fallen over a one-hour period. More than 6 inches of rain fell in a one-hour period one part of the area. Residents there are being urged to stay off the roads and shelter in place; a mandatory evacuation is in effect for parts of the City of Richmond.
A flash flood warning has been issued for parts of Hays, Caldwell, Bastrop, Lee and Fayette counties — including San Marcos, Kyle, Lockhart, Bastrop, La Grange, Giddings and Lexington.
Officials in Bastrop County have declared a disaster, due to conditions from Harvey. More than 13 inches of rain have fallen in some parts of the county as of about 11:10 p.m. County Judge Paul Pape posted this note on Facebook this evening.
Harvey made landfall near Rockport just before 10 p.m. Friday as a Category 4 hurricane, with winds sustained at 130 mph. It weakened once it hit land, with winds decreasing to 85 mph, and was downgraded to a Category 1 earlier in the day on Saturday. Just after 1 p.m. Saturday, the National Weather Service said the storm was 60 miles east of San Antonio, moving at around 2 mph., and downgraded it to a tropical storm.
Ten to 20 inches of rain are expected east of I-35, the National Weather Service says. Five to 10 inches are possible along the I-35 corridor. Isolated areas could see as much as 40 inches, especially south of I-10. Austin's expected to get anywhere from 6 to 15 inches through Tuesday.
The LCRA Hydromet reported the area has seen 1 to 4.7 inches of rain since midnight. The city announced that all parks, recreation sites and public libraries would close at 4 p.m. Saturday because of the deteriorating weather, and is urging drivers to stay off the roads unless absolutely necessary.
While a flash flood watch remains in effect for the Austin area, the National Weather Service has issued a flood warning for Onion Creek. The City of Austin says it's unlikely that flooding will impact any property, however. Barton Creek and the Colorado River are also under flood warning.
"[We will be] monitoring creek levels and so forth, so that we can – in a very timely fashion – be able to go out into the neighborhood and take the appropriate actions to warn or evacuate as that call is made," Assistant City Manager Rey Arellano said.
The City of Austin Transportation Department has closed Red River Street between Cesar Chavez and Third streets.
The storm is moving northwest and is going to "meander" over the middle Texas coast – including Houston, Galveston and Victoria – over the weekend, the NWS said.
Tornado watches also have been issued for parts of the middle and upper Texas coast.
Emergency personnel report damage to buildings in coastal communities including Rockport. NPR reports that as many as 10 people were injured when the roof of a senior housing complex caved in.
Russell Lewis, NPR's Southern Bureau chief, who was in Corpus Christi overnight, reports that things are much calmer this morning.
"It was amazing to hear the amount of debris hitting the hotel that we were staying at," he said on Weekend Edition Saturday. "We're right on Shoreline Boulevard, overlooking the bay here in Corpus Christi. We're on the 15th floor, and just all night long you could feel the windows rattling, you could hear the windows rattling, you could feel the building swaying."
He said even though it was dark last night, "you could see sheets of rain and water moving sideways."
Police in Corpus Christi reported a tremendous amount of debris and power lines down in the roads, Lewis said. Officials also warned residents not to drink tap water or flush their toilets because wastewater treatment plants had lost power.
Gov. Greg Abbott preemptively declared a state of disaster in 30 counties on Thursday and requested a disaster declaration from President Donald Trump, who approved the declaration Friday evening as the storm neared landfall. The declaration will allow federal money to flow to affected areas.
Abbott was briefed at the Texas Department of Public Safety's State Operations Center in Austin just after noon on Saturday. In an announcement after the briefing, he said 20 additional counties were added to the state's disaster declaration. As many as 338,000 Texans along the coast are without power, the governor said.
He also pledged to send as many as 1,800 state service members to the coast to assist in relief efforts, and said that Texas state parks are prepared to accommodate as many as 1,500 evacuees.
Abbott joined Austin Mayor Steve Adler on a tour of one of the city's shelters Saturday night.
Austin officials say they're prepared to open more shelters if local residents are displaced by flooding. The city opened two shelters for hurricane evacuees – at Delco Center and LBJ/LASA High School – on Friday. LBJ/LASA was on "standby" Saturday because of a lack of demand.
The National Hurricane Center said the storm was on track to be the most powerful to hit the U.S. in 12 years. Hurricane Wilma, a Category 5 storm, hit southern Florida in 2005, causing more than $20 billion in damage.