Harvey spins deeper inland, widespread damage in Rockport
Harvey spun deeper into Texas and unloaded ponderous amounts of rain Saturday after the once-fearsome hurricane crashed into vulnerable homes and businesses along the coastline in a blow that killed at least one person and injured up to 14.
Red Cross Phone Bank
CALL NOW: 210-366-1434 You can call in and help out those affected by Harvey. Phone lines are open until 10pm. CLICK HERE to donate online…
UPDATE: Damage from Harvey in the coastal Texas city where one death has been reported includes toppled power poles, trees torn from their bases, wood framing ripped from houses and the metal sides torn off of a high school gym.
A Texas judge has confirmed one death Saturday in Rockport, where emergency crews are searching for victims.
The city is mostly a ghost town. Power is out, as are cellphone and internet service in what was mostly a ghost town. At the city marina, a handful of boats had sunk.
Those who stayed and ignored orders to leave before Harvey made landfall Friday night included Matthew Otero. His "Donuts Dat Rock" was open Saturday and serving coffee and kolaches, a doughnut-like item popular in Texas. Otero was powering his business with a generator.
He says that when Harvey came through, he could feel the building he was in vibrate from the sheer force of the wind.
UPDATE FROM THE CITY OF SAN ANTONIO
There remains uncertainty in the forecast track of Harvey across Texas. Only small changes to the track or forward speed of Harvey will result in large changes to impacts across South Central Texas. An isolated tornado threat exists today mainly near and north of the San Marcos to Cuero line.
200 Gembler Road is the reception center for every evacuee, regardless of their mode of transportation.
Evacuees in shelters: Approx. 1,000* Total Evacuees (*numbers will begin to fluctuate based on ingress and egress)
The Regional Medical Operations Center along with hospital and EMS partners have evacuated 350 patients from the Corpus Christi/Coastal area utilizing a total of 75 ambulances, 12 AMBUS and provided 22 Medical Incident Support Team personnel into local jurisdictions during the last 12 hours.
Anyone interested in volunteering with local relief efforts should contact 311.
The San Antonio Food Bank is accepting donations to assist those affected by Hurricane Harvey. This is the only donation intake center at this time. The Food Bank will accept food, new clothes, diapers, pet food and other supplies. Donations can be dropped off at the Food Bank warehouse from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Please do not bring donations to emergency shelters or the Red Cross.
The public should call 311 for any questions or updates on City services. Out of town visitors should call 210-207-6000 to reach the 311 Call Center. Residents in unincorporated areas of Bexar County should call 210-335-6000 to report debris in County creekways.
Transportation & Capital Improvements
The Transportation & Capital Improvements Department has extensive staff and equipment to manage flooding and remove trees from the right-of-way during the storm. At this time, there are 62 downed trees reported and 33 have been removed from the public rights-of-way.
There are 10 street closures in San Antonio and 4 activated high water closures in Bexar County at this time. Residents can check the Emergency Street Closures link on the City’s website, sanantonio.gov. Additionally, residents can subscribe to receive low water crossing notifications in their area by visiting www.bexarflood.org.
City of San Antonio Closures
City of San Antonio facilities including libraries, community and senior centers, Café College and Parks & Recreation facilities, programs and classes remain closed, and only essential employees will need to report to work on Sunday, Aug. 27. A determination on whether Pre-K 4 SA schools will be open Monday as scheduled will be made Sunday afternoon.
The following facilities will be closed on Sunday, Aug. 27:
• Bitters Bulky Waste Collection and Brush Recycling Center, 1800 Wurzbach Parkway, 78216
• Frio City Road Bulky Waste Collection Center, 1531 Frio City Rd., 78226
• Culebra Bulky Waste Collection Center and Household Hazardous Waste Collection Center, 7030 Culebra Rd., 78238
• Rigsby Road Bulky Waste Collection Center, 2755 Rigsby Rd, 78222
• Nelson Gardens Brush Recycling Center, 8963 Nelson Rd., 78252
All Solid Waste facilities are anticipated to resume normal operating hours on Monday, Aug. 28. Recycling and organics collection that was scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 26 will take place on Wednesday, Aug. 30, along with regularly scheduled garbage collection. Call 311 for any inquiries.
Animal Care Services
Animal Care Services has set up an emergency pet shelter at Freeman Coliseum to provide care and housing for the pets of displaced residents impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Pets in the emergency shelter will be cared for 24-hours-a-day throughout the duration of the weather event. Although the facility is safe and comfortable, it is located in a heightened security area with restricted access so visitation by owners is not allowed at this time. The main ACS campus at 4710 State Highway 151 is closed to the public today, but staff is on site and caring for pets in the City’s shelter.
Evacuated pets received as of 3 p.m.: 117 dogs and 30 cats
Bexar County Closures
Bexar County parks are closed. Mission Reach and trails remains closed, and will remain closed the rest of the weekend. Residents are reminded to stay away from area creeks and rivers. San Antonio River Authority and Bexar County staff have been assessing areas, including Mission Reach and San Pedro Creek throughout the day.
As of 3 p.m., there are 216 outages affecting 13,460 customers. A map of current outages can be viewed here. Residents can report an outage at cpsenergy.com or dial 210-353-HELP (4357) for electrical or gas emergencies.
Residents can report sewer overflow or water concerns to 210-704-7297. The latest updates can be found at saws.org or on Twitter and Facebook using the handle @mysaws.
Ready South Texas App
More than 53,000 people downloaded the Ready South Texas App yesterday. The free app allows users to receive real-time information and access to evacuation maps, safe routes, information about the nearest shelters and other emergency services.
Turn Around, Don't Drown
Even in relatively shallow water, tires can act as flotation devices lifting up even large vehicles and sending them downstream. A vehicle may stall out in just a few inches of water and a foot or two of water is enough to float a 3,000-pound car. Driving through flooded roadways not only puts your life at risk and anyone in your vehicle, but also the lives of our first responders. Driving around a barricade when there is water on the road carries a maximum penalty of $2,000 and 180 days in jail and if a rescue is required, everyone in the vehicle may be charged a fee of $640.
For all emergencies, residents should dial 911. To report any low water crossings without barricades or warning signals, residents are asked to contact the City’s non-emergency number, 207-SAPD. To report any outages or non-emergency requests for City services, such as traffic light malfunction and debris in the road, dial 3-1-1 or download the 311 mobile app. Residents in unincorporated areas in Bexar County can dial 210-335-6000.
Harvey spins deeper inland, total damage still unknown
Throughout the region between Corpus Christi and Houston, many people feared that toll was only the beginning. They did not know the full scope of damage already done, and they dreaded the destruction that was yet to come from a storm that could linger for days and unload more than 40 inches of rain on cities including dangerously flood-prone Houston, the nation's fourth-largest.
Long after the system came ashore, weather conditions prevented emergency crews from getting into many of the hardest-hit places.
In the island community of Port Aransas, population 3,800, officials were unable to fully survey the town because of "massive" damage. Police and heavy equipment had only made it into the northernmost street. Mayor Charles Bujan had few other details.
"I can tell you I have a very bad feeling and that's about it," he said.
Some of the worst damage appeared to be in Rockport, a coastal city of about 10,000 that was directly in the storm's path. The mayor said his community took a blow "right on the nose" that left "widespread devastation," including homes, businesses and schools that were heavily damaged. Some structures were destroyed.
Rockport's roads were a mess of toppled power poles. A trailer blocked much of one major intersection. Pieces of 100-year-old oak trees impeded the slow passage of emergency vehicles. Wood framing from ripped-apart houses was strewn along Route 35 on the town's southern end.
Harvey's relentless wind tore the metal sides off the high school gym and twisted the steel door frame of its auditorium. The windows of some police vehicles had been blown out.
"We're still in the very infancy stage of getting this recovery started," said Larry Sinclair, the Aransas County spokesman.
Rockport Mayor Charles "C.J." Wax told The Weather Channel that the city's emergency response system had been hampered by the loss of cellphone service and other forms of communication.
On Friday, Rockport Mayor Pro Tem Patrick Rios offered ominous advice, telling the station that people who chose not to evacuate should mark their arm with a Sharpie pen, implying that the marks would make it easier for rescuers to identify them.
Citing a county judge, the Austin American-Statesman reported one death from Harvey in Rockport, and 12 to 14 people injured.
In Port Aransas, the mayor had called for a mandatory evacuation and said he knew some people had stayed, but he did not know how many.
Elsewhere in the storm's immediate aftermath, Coast Guard helicopters rescued 18 people from boats and barges in distress, said Capt. Tony Hahn, commander of the Corpus Christi sector.
The city's port was closed and will need a lot of repairs before it can reopen. Because Corpus Christi is the third-largest petrochemical port in the nation, authorities will also be on the lookout for spills, Hahn said.
The fiercest hurricane to hit the U.S. in more than a decade came ashore late Friday about 30 miles (48 kilometers) northeast of Corpus Christi as a mammoth Category 4 storm with 130 mph (209 kph) winds.
By dawn, nearly 300,000 consumers were without power in the coastal region, and nearly 20 inches (0.5 meters) of rain had fallen in some places.
Harvey weakened to a tropical storm by early afternoon, with maximum sustained winds falling to about 70 mph (113 kph). The storm was centered about 60 miles (97 kilometers) southeast of San Antonio. It was moving north at 2 mph (3 kph), the hurricane center said.
The hurricane posed the first major emergency management test of President Donald Trump's administration.
Trump met with his Cabinet and other senior administration officials to discuss the federal response to the damage and flooding, the White House said Saturday in a statement.
The president held a video conference from Camp David in which he instructed relevant departments and agencies to "stay fully engaged and positioned to support his number one priority of saving lives," the statement said.
Trump, who on Friday signed a federal disaster declaration for coastal counties, also reminded department heads that the full impact of the storm will not be apparent for days. On Twitter, he commended the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency for his handling of the disaster.
In Corpus Christi, the major city closest to the storm's center, wind whipped palm trees and stinging sheets of horizontal rain slapped against hotels and office buildings along the seawall as the storm made landfall.
Daybreak revealed downed lamp posts and tree limbs and roof tiles torn off buildings. The city's marina was nearly unscathed, save an awning ripped from a restaurant entrance and a wooden garbage bin uprooted and thrown.
Along Interstate 45 leaving Galveston, the rain was so intense that drivers were to stop under bridges because they could not see in front of them.
In Houston, rain fell Saturday at nearly 3 inches (76.2 millimeters) an hour, leaving some streets and underpasses underwater. The many drainage channels known as bayous that carry excess water to the Gulf were flowing freely but rising.
"Flooding is a minor issue so far," Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, the chief administrator of the county that includes Houston, said. "Most of the watersheds are well within banks, but we're not out of this."
Francisco Sanchez, with the Harris County Emergency Management Office, said the storm would "linger a while."
"Someone is going to get those very high rainfall totals," he said. "Hopefully it's not us, but we're in that possibility area."
About 4,500 inmates were evacuated from three state prisons in Brazoria County south of Houston because the nearby Brazos River was rising.
Fueled by warm Gulf of Mexico waters, Harvey grew rapidly, accelerating from a Category 1 early Friday morning to a Category 4 by evening. Its transformation from an ordinary storm to a life-threatening behemoth took only 56 hours, an incredibly fast intensification.
Harvey came ashore as the fiercest hurricane to hit the U.S. in 13 years and the strongest to strike Texas since 1961's Hurricane Carla, the most powerful Texas hurricane on record.
The storm's approach sent tens of thousands of people fleeing inland. Families who escaped Rockport were worried about neighbors and whether their homes are still standing.
Johanna Cochran was panicking over whether her house or the McDonald's where she works survived the storm. She and her boyfriend evacuated to a San Antonio shelter.
Another Rockport resident, Pamela Montes, said she knew many people who stayed behind because "no one felt like it was going to hit."
Just hours before landfall, the governor and Houston leaders issued conflicting statements on evacuation.
Gov. Greg Abbott urged more people to flee, but Houston authorities recommended no widespread evacuations, citing greater danger in having people on roads that could flood and the fact that the hurricane was not taking direct aim at the city.
The last Category 4 storm to hit the U.S. was Hurricane Charley in August 2004 in Florida.
Associated Press writers Michael Graczyk, Juan Lozano and Nomaan Merchant in Houston; Tammy Webber in Chicago; David Phillip in Dickinson, Texas; and Jamie Stengle, David Warren and Claudia Lauer and in Dallas contributed to this report.