Hurricane Harvey slammed into Texas and Louisiana last night as a Category Four storm, leaving at least one person is dead and dozens injured amidst terrible devastation in coastal cities. Rockport, Texas was among the hardest hit, but Harvey isn’t finished yet—though it has been steadily losing power and is now downgraded to a Tropical Storm, Harvey will continue dumping rain as it moves inland. Meteorologists warn Harvey could lead to more extreme weather throughout the storm’s path, including tornados and flooding.
The one known casualty in Rockport died in a house fire that broke out during the storm, but the death toll could rise as residents and rescue operations begin to sort through the rubble left by one of the most powerful hurricanes to make U.S. landfall in the past decade. Many buildings along the cost haven’t stood up well to the awful force of the winds and rain. A big percentage of the injuries reported have resulted from buildings collapsing or roofs caving in, complicating evacuation and rescue efforts. 300,000 are without power.
“There’s been widespread devastation,” Rockport Mayor Charles Wax said. “We’ve already taken a severe blow from the storm, but we’re anticipating another one when the flooding comes.”
Indeed, the hurricane-force winds, well over 100 miles an hour, were just the first wave of damage that Rockport and other coastal cities had to face. There’s also the 40 inches of rain, and soon further storm surge. Even as a tropical storm, Harvey will be pushing deeper into Texas with 70 mile an hour winds. According to the National Weather Service, Harvey could maintain tropical storm strength through early Monday.
Many of the areas in Harvey’s path are low-lying and flood prone even without a hurricane coming through. Whole systems of rivers and bayous will see delayed flooding as the watershed tries to accommodate the sudden influx of sea water and rain. And as recent flooding in New Orleans proves, it can take far less than a hurricane to swamp the low-lying areas around the gulf. That could be especially devastating for the oil and gas infrastructure in the area, and put kinks in gas supply chains for weeks or even months, depending on the severity of the damage.
Still, Texas remains resilient and is pulling together to keep humans and animals alike as safe as possible. Airbnb is offering free emergency accommodations through its network of generous hosts until September 1st. And some of the critters in Harvey’s path even took matters into their own paws, like this one dog that wasn’t going to be caught unprepared.