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Hurricane Harvey hits Texas with 130mph winds

  • Hurricane Harvey has hit the Texas coast as a Category 4 hurricane shortly after 10pm local time on Friday 
  • The storm had sustained winds of 130mph and a storm surge of up to 13 feet when it crashed onto land 
  • Buildings have collapsed with people trapped inside and more than 100,000 are without power in the area
  • Rockport, about 30 miles outside of Corpus Christi, has been hit hard with reports of extensive damage 
  • Police were called to a shooting in Corpus Christi during the hurricane, with a victim in a serious condition
  • Those who weren't evacuated were asked to write their names on their arms so bodies could be identified
  • Harvey is the strongest storm to hit the US in 12 years and is expected to trigger 'catastrophic' floods 
  • The National Weather Service warned that this was the 'start of many difficult days to come'

By Cheyenne Roundtree For Dailymail.com

Published: 23:40 EDT, 25 August 2017 | Updated: 05:58 EDT, 26 August 2017

Hurricane Harvey has slammed into Texas as a monstrous Category 4 hurricane on Friday night, with winds of 130mph causing buildings to collapse, dozens to be injured and leaving more than 155,000 without power.

The hurricane hit shortly after 10pm local time, as waves flooded onto roads, roofs were sent flying into the air and residents in the storm's path were told to label themselves in case they died.

Rockport, around 30 miles outside of Corpus Christi, has reports of extensive damage with a number of buildings collapsed, homes have been destroyed and several people were taken to a makeshift hospital.  

Further tragedy struck when police were called to scene of a shooting in Corpus Christi during the middle of the hurricane, with a victim in serious condition, according to local reports.  

Texas Governor Greg Abbott warned that Hurricane Harvey would be 'a major disaster' before the storm barreled into the state with violent winds and massive rainfall, all on top of storm surges up to 13 feet.

Trump signed a disaster proclamation from Camp David, tweeting: 'At the request of the Governor of Texas, I have signed the Disaster Proclamation, which unleashes the full force of government help!'

Harvey is the strongest storm to hit the US in 12 years and is expected to trigger 'catastrophic' floods, as the National Weather Service warned that this was the 'start of many difficult days to come'.

Hurricane Harvey has slammed into Texas as a monstrous Category 4 hurricane on Friday night, with winds of 130mph causing buildings to collapse  and leaving more than 155,000 without power
Hurricane Harvey has slammed into Texas as a monstrous Category 4 hurricane on Friday night, with winds of 130mph causing buildings to collapse  and leaving more than 155,000 without power

Hurricane Harvey has slammed into Texas as a monstrous Category 4 hurricane on Friday night, with winds of 130mph causing buildings to collapse and leaving more than 155,000 without power

The hurricane hit shortly after 10pm local time, as waves flooded onto roads, roofs were sent flying into the air. Pictured: A power generator container tips in front of a hospital on the Corpus Christi-Shoreline
The hurricane hit shortly after 10pm local time, as waves flooded onto roads, roofs were sent flying into the air. Pictured: A power generator container tips in front of a hospital on the Corpus Christi-Shoreline

The hurricane hit shortly after 10pm local time, as waves flooded onto roads, roofs were sent flying into the air. Pictured: A power generator container tips in front of a hospital on the Corpus Christi-Shoreline

Rain is blown past palm trees as Hurricane Harvey makes landfall in Corpus Christi.  The full extent of the storm's damage will not be known until morning
Rain is blown past palm trees as Hurricane Harvey makes landfall in Corpus Christi.  The full extent of the storm's damage will not be known until morning

Rain is blown past palm trees as Hurricane Harvey makes landfall in Corpus Christi.  The full extent of the storm's damage will not be known until morning

Before the hurricane even hit, traffic lights were blown over and hurricane shelters made their final lock-downs 
Before the hurricane even hit, traffic lights were blown over and hurricane shelters made their final lock-downs 

Before the hurricane even hit, traffic lights were blown over and hurricane shelters made their final lock-downs 

Strong winds batter seaside houses  in Corpus Christi right before Hurricane Harvey ripped through the city. Texas Governor Greg Abbott warned the storm would be 'a major disaster' as Texans are expecting flooding and more than 35 inches of rain
Strong winds batter seaside houses  in Corpus Christi right before Hurricane Harvey ripped through the city. Texas Governor Greg Abbott warned the storm would be 'a major disaster' as Texans are expecting flooding and more than 35 inches of rain

Strong winds batter seaside houses in Corpus Christi right before Hurricane Harvey ripped through the city. Texas Governor Greg Abbott warned the storm would be 'a major disaster' as Texans are expecting flooding and more than 35 inches of rain

Around 104,000 customers were already without power two hours before the hurricane hit, according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas company's Twitter account. Pictured: A family evacuating Corpus Christi 
Around 104,000 customers were already without power two hours before the hurricane hit, according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas company's Twitter account. Pictured: A family evacuating Corpus Christi 

Around 104,000 customers were already without power two hours before the hurricane hit, according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas company's Twitter account. Pictured: A family evacuating Corpus Christi 

The hurricane exceeded forecasts of how strong the storm would be when it slammed into Texas, as residents in the storm's path were told to label themselves in case they die
The hurricane exceeded forecasts of how strong the storm would be when it slammed into Texas, as residents in the storm's path were told to label themselves in case they die

The hurricane exceeded forecasts of how strong the storm would be when it slammed into Texas, as residents in the storm's path were told to label themselves in case they die

Even before the storm made landfall, reports of damage were trickling in from the coastal region.

Some buildings in Rockport have collapsed and guests who were hunkering down in hotels said they could feel the tall buildings sway under the strength of the powerful winds.

Rockport city manager Kevin Carruth said to KHOU: 'People are trapped inside at least one collapsed building. We can't get rescue team to them right now.' 

The building was a senior housing complex and the roof had collapsed on the elderly inhabitants, with a number being taken to another location for treatment later that night.  

Carruth added that he had heard reports of a tree falling into a mobile home and roofs collapsing on houses. 

Other reports claim that a portion of a high school in Rockport has caved in.  

Full extent of the damage Hurricane Harvey has caused will not be known until the morning.  

At least 10 people have been treated from Friday night's storm damage already.  

Photos and social media videos show the grim scene as structures have walls ripped from their frames and wet debris is strewn about. Pictured: A highway sign has been blown over 
Photos and social media videos show the grim scene as structures have walls ripped from their frames and wet debris is strewn about. Pictured: A highway sign has been blown over 

Photos and social media videos show the grim scene as structures have walls ripped from their frames and wet debris is strewn about. Pictured: A highway sign has been blown over 

Further tragedy struck when police were called to scene of a shooting in Corpus Christi during the middle of the hurricane, with a victim in serious condition
Further tragedy struck when police were called to scene of a shooting in Corpus Christi during the middle of the hurricane, with a victim in serious condition

Further tragedy struck when police were called to scene of a shooting in Corpus Christi during the middle of the hurricane, with a victim in serious condition

Rockport, around 30 miles outside of Corpus Christi (pictured), has reports of extensive damage as at least one building has collapsed with people trapped inside and several homes have been destroyed
Rockport, around 30 miles outside of Corpus Christi (pictured), has reports of extensive damage as at least one building has collapsed with people trapped inside and several homes have been destroyed

Rockport, around 30 miles outside of Corpus Christi (pictured), has reports of extensive damage as at least one building has collapsed with people trapped inside and several homes have been destroyed

The storm had sustained winds of 130mph on Friday evening when it made landfall on the Texas coast
The storm had sustained winds of 130mph on Friday evening when it made landfall on the Texas coast

The storm had sustained winds of 130mph on Friday evening when it made landfall on the Texas coast

Corpus Christi police responded to a shooting incident at 7100 Ficus Court around midnight local time when a homeowner shot an intruder. 

Photos and social media videos show the grim scene as structures have walls ripped from their frames and wet debris is strewn about. 

Rockport had peak wind surges of more than 125 mph, 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.   

Around 104,000 customers were already without power two hours before the hurricane hit, according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas company's Twitter account.

It warned people to stay away from downed power lines and to report them, as massive flooding is expected to wreak havoc on the area. 

The estimated people without power as of 1am local time on Saturday was 155,000 people.  

Larger than usual waves come ashore at Crystal Beach before Hurricane Harvey approached Texas on Friday
Larger than usual waves come ashore at Crystal Beach before Hurricane Harvey approached Texas on Friday

Larger than usual waves come ashore at Crystal Beach before Hurricane Harvey approached Texas on Friday

Shoes tied to a power line hang near a street after winds from Hurricane Harvey brought down a power pole in Corpus Christi
Shoes tied to a power line hang near a street after winds from Hurricane Harvey brought down a power pole in Corpus Christi

Shoes tied to a power line hang near a street after winds from Hurricane Harvey brought down a power pole in Corpus Christi

A pedestrian crossing sign remains in place by one screw as Hurricane Harvey makes landfall in Corpus Christi
A pedestrian crossing sign remains in place by one screw as Hurricane Harvey makes landfall in Corpus Christi

A pedestrian crossing sign remains in place by one screw as Hurricane Harvey makes landfall in Corpus Christi

A power pole lies in the middle of a street following Hurricane Harvey smashing into Texas
A power pole lies in the middle of a street following Hurricane Harvey smashing into Texas

A power pole lies in the middle of a street following Hurricane Harvey smashing into Texas

Heavy rainfall of as much as 40 inches plus strong storm surges are expected to combine for 'devastating' flooding
Heavy rainfall of as much as 40 inches plus strong storm surges are expected to combine for 'devastating' flooding

Heavy rainfall of as much as 40 inches plus strong storm surges are expected to combine for 'devastating' flooding

An estimated eight million people are under a hurricane warning, with additional millions under a tropical storm warning
An estimated eight million people are under a hurricane warning, with additional millions under a tropical storm warning

An estimated eight million people are under a hurricane warning, with additional millions under a tropical storm warning

As the storm hit, people took to social media to capture the force of nature, posting videos of trees being bent by the wind and buildings flying away.

Some were briefly aghast after Jeff Piotrowski,  a storm chaser, posted video that abruptly cut off leaving viewers wondering if he was killed by a collapsing building.

Piotrowski live streamed himself on Periscope as he and his partners sat through 130mph wind gusts in Rockport, Texas. As Harvey's eye reached the Texas coast, Piotrowski remained in the area and filmed the effects of the hurricane.

At one point, Piotrowski said that a 'car wash'-like structure collapsed and that the roof of the building in which his car was parked was also in danger of collapsing.

'There's total destruction here outside my window,' Piotrowski said, his voice rising as he dramatically describes the effects of the devastation around him.

'There's zero visibility,' he said in one Periscope video. 'I see walls and debris now flying through the air.'

Piotrowski described 'roofs being ripped off' and 'high beams splitting.' 

Some social media users were briefly aghast after Jeff Piotrowski, a storm chaser, posted video that abruptly cut off leaving viewers wondering if he was killed by a collapsing building 
Some social media users were briefly aghast after Jeff Piotrowski, a storm chaser, posted video that abruptly cut off leaving viewers wondering if he was killed by a collapsing building 

Some social media users were briefly aghast after Jeff Piotrowski, a storm chaser, posted video that abruptly cut off leaving viewers wondering if he was killed by a collapsing building 

Hillary Lebeb walks along the seawall in Galveston, Texas as Hurricane Harvey intensifies in the Gulf of Mexico on Friday
Hillary Lebeb walks along the seawall in Galveston, Texas as Hurricane Harvey intensifies in the Gulf of Mexico on Friday

Hillary Lebeb walks along the seawall in Galveston, Texas as Hurricane Harvey intensifies in the Gulf of Mexico on Friday

A woman is helped to a bus as she and other are evacuated as the outer bands of Hurricane Harvey begin to make landfall, in Corpus Christi
A woman is helped to a bus as she and other are evacuated as the outer bands of Hurricane Harvey begin to make landfall, in Corpus Christi

A woman is helped to a bus as she and other are evacuated as the outer bands of Hurricane Harvey begin to make landfall, in Corpus Christi

The USS Lexington, an aircraft carrier turned museum, rests in Corpus Christi Bay as waters begin to turn rough
The USS Lexington, an aircraft carrier turned museum, rests in Corpus Christi Bay as waters begin to turn rough

The USS Lexington, an aircraft carrier turned museum, rests in Corpus Christi Bay as waters begin to turn rough

Harvey has intensified into a powerful category four storm, and outer bands whipped Corpus Christi on Friday
Harvey has intensified into a powerful category four storm, and outer bands whipped Corpus Christi on Friday

Harvey has intensified into a powerful category four storm, and outer bands whipped Corpus Christi on Friday

Strong winds batter a house on Padre Island as Hurricane Harvey approaches Corpus Christi on Friday
Strong winds batter a house on Padre Island as Hurricane Harvey approaches Corpus Christi on Friday

Strong winds batter a house on Padre Island as Hurricane Harvey approaches Corpus Christi on Friday

Harvey (right) is on course to make landfall as the strongest storm since the devastating Katrina 12 years ago (left)
Harvey (right) is on course to make landfall as the strongest storm since the devastating Katrina 12 years ago (left)

Harvey (right) is on course to make landfall as the strongest storm since the devastating Katrina 12 years ago (left)

Those who aren't evacuating and are remaining in the storm's path, such as Corpus Christi, were  told to write their names or social security numbers on their arms so that their bodies can be later identified
Those who aren't evacuating and are remaining in the storm's path, such as Corpus Christi, were  told to write their names or social security numbers on their arms so that their bodies can be later identified

Those who aren't evacuating and are remaining in the storm's path, such as Corpus Christi, were told to write their names or social security numbers on their arms so that their bodies can be later identified

Harvey came ashore as the fiercest hurricane to hit the United States in 12 years and the strongest to strike Texas since 1961's Hurricane Carla, the most powerful Texas hurricane on record. 

Based on the atmospheric pressure, Harvey ties for the 18th strongest hurricane on landfall in the U.S. since 1851 and ninth strongest in Texas. 

The powerful storm exceeded forecasts that it would remain a Category 3 hurricane, as the National Weather Service Forecast sent out the amended category around 6pm local time. 

Category 4 hurricanes have wind speeds that reach up to 156mph, enough strength to tear off roofs, destroy mobile homes, snap and uproot most large trees and can cause large power outages. 

Those who didn't evacuate and remained in the storm's path, such as Corpus Christi, were told to write their names or social security numbers on their arms so that their bodies can be later identified.

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.  

The National Weather Service Forecast told those who remained near the hurricane eye to take cover immediately around 6pm local time, and to brace as if a tornado was approaching, due to winds reaching 145mph. 

Federal Emergency Management Agency officials issued an alert on Friday evening saying if a shelter in place order is issued, residents should immediately take action to do so. 

Stewart Adams, of San Marcos, Texas, plays in the winds from Hurricane Harvey in Corpus Christi
Stewart Adams, of San Marcos, Texas, plays in the winds from Hurricane Harvey in Corpus Christi

Stewart Adams, of San Marcos, Texas, plays in the winds from Hurricane Harvey in Corpus Christi

Corpus Christi firefighters help Guadalupe Guerra walk to a bus headed for San Antonio at an evacuation center Friday
Corpus Christi firefighters help Guadalupe Guerra walk to a bus headed for San Antonio at an evacuation center Friday

Corpus Christi firefighters help Guadalupe Guerra walk to a bus headed for San Antonio at an evacuation center Friday

Matt Looingbill struggles with his umbrella as he tries to walk in the wind and rain on Friday in Corpus Christi
Matt Looingbill struggles with his umbrella as he tries to walk in the wind and rain on Friday in Corpus Christi

Matt Looingbill struggles with his umbrella as he tries to walk in the wind and rain on Friday in Corpus Christi

Crews install the final portion of a surge wall on TX-361 leading to the Port Aransas ferry in Aransas Pass on Friday
Crews install the final portion of a surge wall on TX-361 leading to the Port Aransas ferry in Aransas Pass on Friday

Crews install the final portion of a surge wall on TX-361 leading to the Port Aransas ferry in Aransas Pass on Friday

Water from Hurricane Harvey's storm surge crashes through pylons at a fishing pier  in Port Isabel, Texas on Friday morning
Water from Hurricane Harvey's storm surge crashes through pylons at a fishing pier  in Port Isabel, Texas on Friday morning

Water from Hurricane Harvey's storm surge crashes through pylons at a fishing pier in Port Isabel, Texas on Friday morning

Luis Perez watches waves crash again a jetty in Galveston, Texas as Hurricane Harvey intensifies in the Gulf of Mexico Friday
Luis Perez watches waves crash again a jetty in Galveston, Texas as Hurricane Harvey intensifies in the Gulf of Mexico Friday

Luis Perez watches waves crash again a jetty in Galveston, Texas as Hurricane Harvey intensifies in the Gulf of Mexico Friday

Get Out: Officials gave evacuation orders for much of the Texas coast, warning that the window for escape was closing
Get Out: Officials gave evacuation orders for much of the Texas coast, warning that the window for escape was closing

Get Out: Officials gave evacuation orders for much of the Texas coast, warning that the window for escape was closing

FREE PLACES TO STAY FOR HURRICANE HARVEY EVACUEES  

Some spots in Texas and Louisiana are offering free or discounted places for Hurricane Harvey evacuees to stay.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott 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 .

There are 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.

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. 

As Trump departed the White House for Camp David on Friday afternoon, he responded when asked what message he had for the people of Texas: 'Good luck to everybody. They're gonna be safe. Good luck to everybody. Good luck.' 

Governor Abbott minced no words in underscoring the severity of the threat. 

'What you don't know and what nobody else knows right now is the magnitude of flooding that will be coming,' Abbott said in a press conference on Friday afternoon, adding that the state 'will be dealing with immense, really record-setting flooding in multiple regions across the state of Texas.'   

FEMA urged residents to charge cell phones and to download the agency's phone app and follow them on social media. 

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.  

At least one researcher predicted heavy damage that would linger for months or longer. 

'We know that we've got millions of people who are going to feel the impact of this storm,' said Dennis Feltgen, a spokesman and meteorologist for the National Hurricane Center.

He added: 'We really pray that people are listening to their emergency managers and get out of harm's way.'

Galveston-based storm surge expert Hal Needham said forecasts indicated that it was 'becoming more and more likely that something really bad is going to happen.'

'In terms of economic impact, Harvey will probably be on par with Hurricane Katrina,' said University of Miami senior hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy. 'The Houston area and Corpus Christi are going to be a mess for a long time. 

Forecasters labeled Harvey a 'life-threatening storm' that posed a 'grave risk,' saying it could swamp several counties more than 100 miles inland and projecting it will wallop the coast not once but twice in the next week.

Several counties were put under under mandatory evacuation orders, and residents not under orders to leave were urged to move inland.  

Texas officials say shelters that are opening statewide won't ask arriving families about their immigration status, with the storm making landfall a week before a new 'sanctuary city' crackdown in Texas takes effect.

'Now is the time to urgently hide from the wind,' the NWS said in a flash bulletin on Friday. 'Failure to adequately shelter may result in serious injury, loss of life, or immense human suffering.' 

'All the advice we can give is get out, and get out now,' said Patrick Rios, the mayor of Rockport, Texas where an estimated 60 percent of the town's 9,500 residents had left. 

The projected track of the circulation center shows the storm stalling out and heading back to sea before hitting Houston
The projected track of the circulation center shows the storm stalling out and heading back to sea before hitting Houston

The projected track of the circulation center shows the storm stalling out and heading back to sea before hitting Houston

Winds near the eye of the hurricane have reached a sustained 130mph and are expected to climb before landfall
Winds near the eye of the hurricane have reached a sustained 130mph and are expected to climb before landfall

Winds near the eye of the hurricane have reached a sustained 130mph and are expected to climb before landfall

Power outages could reach all the way to San Antonio and around midnight local time, a reported 155,000 were out of power
Power outages could reach all the way to San Antonio and around midnight local time, a reported 155,000 were out of power

Power outages could reach all the way to San Antonio and around midnight local time, a reported 155,000 were out of power

Republican Congressman Blake Farenthold was drenched with rain in an on-air interview from his home district on Friday
Republican Congressman Blake Farenthold was drenched with rain in an on-air interview from his home district on Friday

Republican Congressman Blake Farenthold was drenched with rain in an on-air interview from his home district on Friday

President Trump said he had spoken with the governors of Texas and Louisiana and was prepared to assist the states
President Trump said he had spoken with the governors of Texas and Louisiana and was prepared to assist the states

President Trump said he had spoken with the governors of Texas and Louisiana and was prepared to assist the states

Trump tweeted in the afternoon on Friday that he had arrived at Camp David and was continuing to moniter the hurricane
Trump tweeted in the afternoon on Friday that he had arrived at Camp David and was continuing to moniter the hurricane

Trump tweeted in the afternoon on Friday that he had arrived at Camp David and was continuing to moniter the hurricane

Sharp winds and rain began to batter the coast on Friday afternoon, with landfall predicted east of Corpus Christi sometime between 10pm Friday and 2am Saturday.

Eight million Texans are under hurricane warnings, with an additional one million under tropical storm warnings, as landfall quickly approaches for what could be the most powerful hurricane to hit the US in 12 years. 

The National Hurricane Center's official five-day forecast Friday has Harvey slamming the central Texas coast, stalling and letting loose with lots of rain. 

Then forecasters project the weakened but still tropical storm is likely to go back into the Gulf of Mexico, gain some strength and hit Houston next week, meaning the storm could wallop the Texas coast twice in a row. 

US gasoline prices spiked as the storm shut down 22 percent, or 377,000 barrels per day, of Gulf of Mexico oil production and halted 4.4 percent of US refinery output, according to the US government.

Gas stations and grocery stores in the region were packed as residents readied their cars and pantries for any shortages following the storm. 

Coldplay, the British rock band, canceled a Friday concert in Houston, telling fans it didn't want to risk anyone's safety. 

Forecasters say rip current effects from Hurricane Harvey could be felt at far east as the Alabama coast and the western Florida Panhandle. 

Emergency officials work at the State Operations Center in Austin in preparation for Hurricane Harvey on Friday
Emergency officials work at the State Operations Center in Austin in preparation for Hurricane Harvey on Friday

Emergency officials work at the State Operations Center in Austin in preparation for Hurricane Harvey on Friday

Hurricane Specialist Robbie Berg monitors the progress of Hurricane Harvey at the National Hurricane Center on Friday
Hurricane Specialist Robbie Berg monitors the progress of Hurricane Harvey at the National Hurricane Center on Friday

Hurricane Specialist Robbie Berg monitors the progress of Hurricane Harvey at the National Hurricane Center on Friday

Waves lash the shore in Corpus Christi as winds pick up ahead of Harvey's expected landfall around midnight
Waves lash the shore in Corpus Christi as winds pick up ahead of Harvey's expected landfall around midnight

Waves lash the shore in Corpus Christi as winds pick up ahead of Harvey's expected landfall around midnight

Residents shutter businesses and evacuate in Corpus Christi on Friday as Harvey begins to lash the area with wind and rain
Residents shutter businesses and evacuate in Corpus Christi on Friday as Harvey begins to lash the area with wind and rain

Residents shutter businesses and evacuate in Corpus Christi on Friday as Harvey begins to lash the area with wind and rain

A truck carrying new utility polls is staged for deployment in preparation of Hurricane Harvey on Friday in Port Isabel, Texas
A truck carrying new utility polls is staged for deployment in preparation of Hurricane Harvey on Friday in Port Isabel, Texas

A truck carrying new utility polls is staged for deployment in preparation of Hurricane Harvey on Friday in Port Isabel, Texas

Final Preparations: People rush to buy plywood Friday at Lowes in Corpus Christi, Texas as Hurricane Harvey approaches
Final Preparations: People rush to buy plywood Friday at Lowes in Corpus Christi, Texas as Hurricane Harvey approaches

Final Preparations: People rush to buy plywood Friday at Lowes in Corpus Christi, Texas as Hurricane Harvey approaches

People load plywood at Lowes in Corpus Christ early Friday as officials warned the window for preparations is closing
People load plywood at Lowes in Corpus Christ early Friday as officials warned the window for preparations is closing

People load plywood at Lowes in Corpus Christ early Friday as officials warned the window for preparations is closing

City workers pull down a canvas covering as the outer bands of Hurricane Harvey move closer to Corpus Christi on Friday
City workers pull down a canvas covering as the outer bands of Hurricane Harvey move closer to Corpus Christi on Friday

City workers pull down a canvas covering as the outer bands of Hurricane Harvey move closer to Corpus Christi on Friday

'CRITICALLY ILL' NEWBORNS FLOWN FROM STORM

Flight crews transport a newborn from a coastal hospital in the storm track to safety in Forth Worth, Texas
Flight crews transport a newborn from a coastal hospital in the storm track to safety in Forth Worth, Texas

Flight crews transport a newborn from a coastal hospital in the storm track to safety in Forth Worth, Texas

Ten newborns in intensive care have been evacuated by plane from the path of Hurricane Harvey as the storm bears down on the Texas coast.

Flight crews worked for 18 hours straight on Thursday and Friday transporting the infants from the NICU at Driscoll Children's Hospital in Corpus Christi to Cook Children's in Fort Worth.

All of the babies were born in the past few weeks and are 'critically ill', officials said.

The evacuation of the medically fragile infants came as Harvey threatened massive storm surges and more than 35 inches of rain that are expected to devastate coastal areas.

Flight crews worked through the night shuttling the critically ill infants out of harm's way on four different planes.

'Because of the extraordinary nature of the hurricane and the transport teams working together, these babies arrived in a dramatic way to our NICU,' Register Nurse Sheralyn Hartline, director of the NICU at Cook Children's, said in a statement.

'Our physicians, nurses and everyone who works in the NICU are all prepared and trained for occasions exactly like this one. Every day, they are treating the sickest children with the most difficult and complex diagnoses,' Hartline said. 

MANDATORY EVACUATIONS

Aransas Pass: Mandatory evacuation order issued

Brazoria County: Mandatory evacuation order issued for coastal communities along the Gulf side of the Intracoastal Waterway

Calhoun County: Mandatory evacuation order issued

Freeport: City officials have ordered a mandatory evacuation for all low-lying coastal areas, including Bridge Harbor. All other residents are also encouraged to evacuate.

Matagorda County: Everyone south of FM521 is included in the mandatory evacuation order, including the communities of Palacios, Collegeport, Matagorda, Sargent and Wadsworth.

 

The port of Houston, the nation's busiest petrochemical port, closed its terminals at noon, and earlier halted inbound and outbound ship traffic on Friday. 

The city of Houston warned residents of flooding from close to 20 inches of rain over several days. 

Throughout the Texas coast, millions of people were bracing for a prolonged battering from the hurricane.

'We are using terms like 'devastating' and 'catastrophic' in association with this storm,' NWS spokesman Greg Waller told the Star-Telegram. 'You will remember this storm for the rest of your life.'    

President Donald Trump faced a major new test as devastation loomed, with the federal response to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans a famous albatross around the neck of his Republican predecessor George W. Bush.

Shortly before the hurricane was expected to hit, Trump pardoned Joe Arpaio, a controversial former sheriff of Maricopa County in Arizona on Friday night.  

Arpaio was convicted in July for criminal contempt for disregarding a court order in a racial profiling case. 

Trump made the decision while at Camp David although he said he was closely monitoring the hurricane's progression.

Trump said Friday that he was in contact with Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards and monitoring developments in each state, ready to provide necessary resources to the gulf region.

Disaster areas have been declared in both states ahead of the anticipated massive devastation.

Texas Governor Abbott ordered the State Operations Center to elevate its readiness level, making state resources available for possible rescue and recovery actions, in addition to activating 700 members of the Texas Army Guard, Texas Air National Guard and the Texas State Guard.  

On Thursday, at least 10 critically ill babies were evacuated by air from Driscoll Children's Hospital in Corpus Christi to Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth. 

The Corpus Christi airport shut down late Friday morning for the rest of the day, and runways will likely be closed for the rest of the weekend as conditions warrant.

Looking ahead to next week, the Houston Texans may relocate their home preseason game scheduled for Thursday to the Cowboys stadium in Dallas. 

The US National Hurricane Center said Harvey has 'rapidly intensified' and experts say weather conditions have created the perfect recipe for the monster hurricane to form and crash into Texas later on Friday.

The national guard was mobilized amid fears over life-threatening flash flooding, which poses 'a grave risk' to Texans as the hurricane is expected to be the strongest to hit the United States mainland in 12 years since Hurricane Wilma in 2005.

Harvey grew quickly Thursday from a tropical depression into a Category 1 hurricane. 

Fueled by warm Gulf of Mexico waters, it was projected to become a major Category 3 hurricane, but grew to a Category 4 on Friday evening.

The last storm stronger to hit the U.S. was Hurricane Wilma as a Category 5 in October 2005 in Florida.  

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