Hurricane Harvey Strengthens, Mandatory Evacuations Ordered
Thousands of people fled Texas early Friday as Hurricane Harvey, a life-threatening storm, gained strength and hurtled toward the state.
Homeowners, businesses and government officials were scrambling to prepare for the potentially devastating storm. Forecasters said it could lash the state with significant rain, 125-mph winds and up to 12-ft storm surges and “catastrophic” flooding, according to the National Weather Service.
Counties along the Texas coast ordered thousands of residents to leave, oil workers fled rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, and at least one college campus closed.
The message from state officials is clear: Get out now.
“A lot of people are taking this storm for granted, thinking it may not pose much of a danger to them,” Gov. Greg Abbott said. “Please heed warnings and evacuate as soon as possible.”
Harvey, driven by warm Gulf of Mexico waters, was expected to make landfall as a Category 3 storm just east of Corpus Christi between 10:00p and 2:00a EDT Saturday.
Heavy rain and widespread flooding will likely be what makes Harvey historic, said one meteorologist.
The National Hurricane Center warned Harvey was “dangerously approaching” the Texas coast early Friday, picking up more power and packing maximum sustained winds of 110 mph — close to the Category 3 threshold (sustained winds of 111 mph to 129 mph), according to the National Hurricane Center.
The agency added that “life-threatening and devastating flooding” was expected and that “Harvey is expected to become a major hurricane before it reaches” the Texas coast.
Corpus Christi was a veritable ghost town on Friday afternoon, with dozens of homes and storefronts boarded up. The city’s Mayor, Joe McComb, has urged residents to leave town — before it is too late.
“We are going to, in the strongest possible terms, encourage residents in the low-lying areas, as they say, to get out of Dodge,” Mayor McComb said at a news conference.
Thousands of Texans appeared to follow that advice on Friday morning — but many others planned on hunkering down this weekend.
A national security adviser said President Trump is being briefed on the hurricane’s progress and preparations for its landing.
President Trump Tweeted Friday that he had spoken with Abbott and Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards and was “closely monitoring” the situation.
Wednesday, Gov. Abbott declared a state of disaster in 30 counties.
Mandatory evacuations were ordered in Texas for the cities of Aransas Pass and Portland and the counties of San Patricio and Brazoria. Authorities in Cameron Parish, Louisiana, meanwhile, ordered mandatory evacuations for areas south of the Intracoastal Water Way.
Gov. Abbott ordered the Texas State Operations Center to elevate its readiness level and made state resources available for preparation and rescue and recovery efforts.
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