Published: August 26,2017
Hurricane Harvey made landfall late Friday along the south Texas coast east of Corpus Christi, damaging buildings and threatening the lives of those who chose to ride out the powerful storm.
The hurricane made landfall as a Category 4 storm around 10 p.m. Friday near Rockport, a town of fewer than 10,000 people about 30 miles up the Texas coast from Corpus Christi, and that's where the first reports of damage began to emerge.
Rockport City manager Kevin Carruth said multiple people were taken to the county's jail for assessment and treatment after the roof of a senior housing complex collapsed. KIII-TV reports that 10 people have been treated there.
Carruth also said that Rockport's historic downtown area has seen extensive damage. A part of Rockport-Fulton High School has caved in. There have been several reports of trees and power lines down across the area.
About 128 people were evacuated from a Fairfield Inn in Rockport after the hotel suffered severe damage, according to a National Weather Service report.
Rockport Volunteer Fire Department Chief Steve Sims said there are about 15 firefighters at the Rockport fire station waiting for conditions to improve enough for their vehicles to safely respond to pleas for help.
"There's nothing we can do at this moment. We are anxious to get out there and make assessments, but we're hunkered down for now," Sims said.
In Corpus Christi, the major city closest to the center of the storm, officials issued boil water order Friday night.
"To ensure destruction of all harmful bacteria and other microbes, water for drinking, cooking, and ice making should be boiled and cooled prior to use for drinking water or human consumption purposes," the order states. "The water should be brought to a vigorous rolling boil and then boiled for two minutes."
The city's airport was closed and will not likely open until Monday.
Melissa Munguia, the deputy emergency management coordinator in Nueces County, which includes Corpus Christi, told the Associated Press early Saturday that it could be several more hours before crews could fully assess the damage in coastal communities.
Officials say they have no idea how many residents voluntarily evacuated the city of 325,000 and nearby low-lying areas.
Those same officials warned that those who remained in the path of the powerful hurricane would be subjected to the storm's wrath for days.
"We’re suggesting if people are going to stay here, mark their arm with a Sharpie pen with their name and Social Security number," Rockport Mayor Pro Tem Patrick Rios told reporters Friday. "We hate to talk about things like that. It's not something we like to do but it’s the reality, people don’t listen."
Just hours before the hurricane made landfall, the governor and Houston leaders issued conflicting statements on evacuation.
Gov. Greg Abbott urged more people to flee, even if their cities were not in evacuation zones, while Houston authorities told people to remain in their homes and did not recommend widespread evacuations.
Corpus Christi Mayor Joe McComb said in a Thursday afternoon press conference that the city is strongly encouraging evacuations, and officials are "almost at the threshold for mandatory evacuation, but we are not going to cross that line right now."
"We could mandate it, but people need to make a decision of their own. I'm not going to risk our police and fire people going to try and drag somebody out of the house if they don't want to go," McComb said. "Because our fire and police, they're fathers and mothers, brothers, sisters, uncles. They've got relatives and they've got family, and we don't want to put them in harm's way because someone just wanted to stay."
A mandatory evacuation never came for the city.
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Warned Carl Parker, storm specialist for The Weather Channel: "This is going to be a storm for the ages."
(MORE: Harvey Impacts in Houston Area | Louisiana | San Antonio)
More than 400 doctors, nurses and other medical professionals from around the nation were called in by the federal government. Two 250-bed medical units were also being deployed to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, while other federal medical units are available in Dallas.
Before the storm's arrival, at least 10 critically ill babies were evacuated to children's hospitals in North Texas, WFAA.com said.
"The problem with keeping them there is the ventilators, the life-saving ventilators," Debbie Boudreaux, transport director at Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth, told WFAA. "They wouldn’t be able to be maintained without electricity."
According to the AP, there are several locations in Texas offering free or discounted places for Hurricane Harvey evacuees to stay.
Texas state parks are open to hurricane evacuees to camp for free and the Texas Association of Campground Owners says it has identified 12 campgrounds and RV parks with space for Hurricane Harvey evacuees.
Vacation rental company Airbnb says it has started connecting evacuees and relief workers with short-term lodging with its hosts free of charge as part of its Disaster Response Program through its website.
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