Power outages were reported in Galveston Saturday and more than 340 flights at Houston's airports have been canceled as heavy rain and strong winds from Hurricane Harvey continued to threaten the cities with dangerous flooding.
Heavy rainfall and gusty winds will persist in the Houston area through at least Monday, according to weather.com meteorologist Linda Lam. Rainfall totals of 15 to 30 inches are expected, with locally up to 40 inches possible through midweek. This amount of rainfall brings a serious concern of catastrophic and life-threatening flooding.
Crews have been working to restore power to residents in Galveston, where officials expect a 2 to 4 foot storm surge, KHOU.com reports.
As of Saturday morning, conditions caused by Harvey have caused the cancellation of more than 340 weekend flights to and from the George Bush Intercontinental Airport and William Hobby Airport, ABC13.com reports. Most airlines are offering their customers oprtions to rebook for a later date.
As the Texas Tribune noted, "how bad things get in Houston depends on where and how quickly the rain falls."
(MORE: Impacts for Rockport | San Antonio | Louisiana)
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott urged more people to flee, however, local authorities told people to remain in their homes and recommended no widespread evacuations, the Associated Press reports. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner addressed the decision during a press conference, saying there may be a "greater danger" in having people who don't need to be evacuated on roads that could flood.
Friday Harris County officials declared a state of disaster for the Houston area. Weather conditions in Galveston deteriorated throughout the day, with reports indicating that storm surge has already raised water levels about 3 feet.
The Texas Department of Transportation officials closed the Galveston/Bolivar Ferry ahead of the storm. Officials in Galveston County have said there are no mandatory evacuation orders anywhere in the county, but Galveston residents "west of the seawall" were advised to evacuate.
A voluntary evacuation order was issued for residents in all unincorporated low-lying areas of the county, including San Leon, Bacliff, Old Bayou Vista, and Highland Bayou. The latest areas are in addition to the order already in effect for the Bolivar Peninsula, including the unincorporated areas of Port Bolivar, Crystal Beach, High Island and Gilchrist. Keep updated with the latest evacuations here.
Many had already begun to leave early Friday. Some chose to stay, but even longtime islanders who normally shrug off storms are watching Harvey closely, KHOU reports.
"When they're talking about 18 inches, if it gets up that high, I'm concerned because I can see maybe for the first time it'll get into my house, which I'm not looking forward to,” said homeowner Tim Horton.
Local officials on Galveston Island are planning for possible major flooding by clearing storm drains and other infrastructure, KHOU.com reported.
Galveston Independent School District announced that classes at all locations have been canceled on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. All non-essential staff were released at 11:00 am on Friday.
Four cruise ships due this weekend to Galveston with a combined 20,000 people on board will wait until Tuesday to return to port, WFAA reports.
Galveston tourist attractions announced they would be closed throughout the weekend, including "Galveston Historical Foundation attractions; Bishop's Palace, Pier 21 Theater, Harbor Tours, Tall Ship ELISSA, Texas Seaport Museum, Salvage Warehouse and the Eighteen Seventy One store on The Strand will be closed," according to Galveston.com.
(MORE: The Latest Forecast for Hurricane Harvey)
Houston Area Preparing For Significant RainfallOfficials from Houston's Office of Emergency Management told ABC 13 that residents can expect to see major rainfall over the next five days, which will likely lead to flooding, they say there's no need to evacuate.
"There are mandatory evacuations in place to areas to our south in Brazoria County and in Matagorda County and further down the coast. Those residents need to have open freeways to evacuate through our area," said Jeff Lindner, with the county's Flood Control District and the Office of Emergency Management. "We do not need people inland evacuating the coast. We don't even need people in the Harris County portion evacuating the coast. We are not going to have that significant of a storm surge in Galveston Bay that you need to leave."
Officials say rain from Hurricane Harvey could inundate Houston roads and neighborhoods as early as Saturday night, but Lindner told the AP that two key reservoirs in the flood control system — at the Addicks and Barker dams — are currently near-empty and are in no danger of flooding neighborhoods close by.
Shelves have already emptied around the city, Steve Amira, owner of Houston Beverage, told Click 2 Houston.
"Nobody has water. Walmart has run out, H-E-B. None of those people have water so I thought it was a good idea to give water away today," Amira said. "I'm planning to give away 1,000 cases."
Amira began distributing the water at his business on the Katy Freeway at 8:30 a.m. Friday and said the giveaway would continue until supplies ran out.
Wind and Rain Forecast
Some experts anticipated that the storm had the potential to disrupt Houston's gas industry.
"Hopefully this is a wake-up call but this could become an absolute horror," Jim Blackburn, an environmental engineer at Rice University told CBS News. "If we reach those levels, we could see the worst environmental disaster in United States history. And we'd probably shut down and cause a major gap in gasoline and jet fuel and other types of critical products' availability."
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