Saturday, August 26, 2017

'There's Nothing We Can Do at This Moment': Hurricane Harvey Damages Buildings in Rockport, 10 Injured

Sean Breslin
Published: August 26,2017

Buildings were ripped to shreds in Rockport and firefighters were unable to respond to pleas for help in the hours following Hurricane Harvey's Friday night landfall along the Texas coast.
In Rockport, a town of about 10,000 located on Aransas Bay, KTRK-TV reported 10 people sustained injuries when the roof of a senior housing complex collapsed during the storm. The severity of those injuries was unknown.
"We know there is widespread devastation," Rockport Mayor CJ Wax said during a Saturday morning interview with The Weather Channel. "I think it’s safe to say we took a Cat. 4 (hurricane) right on the nose, and we’d appreciate everyone’s prayers."
Firefighters in Rockport said they wouldn't be able to respond to emergency calls until conditions improved, KTRK also reported.
"There's nothing we can do at this moment," Rockport volunteer fire department Chief Steve Sims told KTRK. "We are anxious to get out there and make assessments, but we're hunkered down for now."
(MORE: The Latest Forecast for Hurricane Harvey)
Rockport City Manager Kevin Carruth told the Corpus Christi Caller-Times that an unknown number of buildings were destroyed by Harvey's punishing winds. Earlier reports that Rockport High School had been destroyed were inaccurate, the report added, but the structure did sustain heavy damage.
"A part of the roof has caved in, but the reports that buildings have disappeared don’t appear to be accurate," volunteer fire department spokeswoman Gillian Cox told the Caller-Times.
About 128 people were evacuated from a Fairfield Inn in Rockport after the hotel suffered severe damage, according to a National Weather Service report.
Near Port Aransas, crew members aboard several tugboats sent distress calls in the vicinity of the Lydia Ann Channel, the Caller-Times also said. The Coast Guard was responding to those Mayday calls Monday morning, the report added.
More than 200,000 customers have lost power during the storm.

Damage Near Houston May Have Been Caused by Tornadoes

In Fort Bend County, roofs were torn off homes and trees were scattered across roads in the Sienna Plantation neighborhood, and the damage may have been caused by a tornado. Ridge Point High School also suffered damage during the storm, according to KTRK.
(MORE: Harvey Impacts in Houston Area | Rockport | Louisiana | San Antonio)
At least 50 homes were damaged in the area during the powerful storm, reported. No major injuries were reported, but a deputy was blown off the road while responding to the situation, the report added.
Later Saturday morning, damage was also reported in the town of Katy and may have been caused by a tornado. Images on social media showed heavy damage to structures in the town; no injuries were reported, according to a separate KTRK report.

Cruise Ships Unable to Return to Galveston

Some 20,000 passengers on four cruise ships were stranded in the Gulf of Mexico as the hurricane made conditions too dangerous to return to Galveston, KTRK-TV reported. The Carnival Valor and Carnival Freedom, which planned to return to Galveston on Friday, will instead sail to New Orleans, according to the Houston Chronicle.
The Carnival Breeze stayed in Cozumel Friday night and was expected to depart for Galveston Saturday, while the Royal Caribbean Liberty of the Seas was expected to wait until Sunday to sail back to Texas, the report added.

Corpus Christi Officials Issue Stern Warnings Before, During Storm

In Corpus Christi, the major city closest to the center of the storm, officials issued a 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."

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.
As the storm approached Friday night, President Donald Trump tweeted that he had signed a disaster proclamation unleashing "the full force of government help," at the request of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who earlier in the day warned that the storm would be "a very major disaster."
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.
The Texas National Guard deployed more than 1,000 personnel ahead of the storm to assist in rescues and aftermath.

The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.

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