Hurricane Harvey slammed into the Texas coast as a Category 4 storm on Friday, bringing life-threatening winds and the likelihood of catastrophic flooding as the most powerful storm in over a decade to hit the mainland United States.
The hurricane made landfall northeast of Corpus Christi around 10 p.m. CDT (0300 GMT) with maximum winds of 130 miles per hour (209 km per hour) and then, in a sign of its lumbering movement, made a second landfall nearby three hours later.
The storm is expected to move slowly over the Texas and Louisiana coasts for days, with forecasts for storm surges of up to 13 feet (4 meters) and over 3 feet (90 cm) of rain.
The town of Rockport appeared to be one of the hardest hit by Harvey’s punch, hours after the mayor told anyone staying to write their names on their arms for identification in case of death or injury.
A high school, hotel, senior housing complex and other buildings suffered structural damage, according to emergency officials and local media. Some were being used as shelters.
“Right now we’re still hunkered down and can’t go anywhere,” said Steve Sims, the volunteer fire chief in Rockport. “We’ve heard rumors of 1,000 different things, we can’t confirm anything because we haven’t seen anything. We know we’ve got a lot of problems, but we don’t know what yet.”
Sims said power, internet and most cell phone service was out in the town of 10,000 where about two-thirds of people evacuated. Most of the senior citizens and nursing homes were among the first to be evacuated, he said.
As many as 6 million people were believed to be in Harvey’s path, as is the heart of America’s oil refining operations. The storm’s impact on refineries has already pushed up gasoline prices while the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lifted some rules on gasoline to reduce shortages.
Donald Trump, facing the first large-scale natural disaster of his presidency, said on Twitter he signed a disaster proclamation which “unleashes the full force of government help” shortly before Harvey made landfall.
Fueled by the warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico, Harvey became the first Category 4 hurricane to wallop the United States since Charley in 2004 and the first to hit Texas since Carla in 1961.