A powerful Hurricane Harvey has hits Texas with winds of up to 130mph (215 km/h) battering coastal areas.
The storm, which has even stronger gusts, is been reported to be the most powerful to hit the United States mainland for over a decades.
The BBC reports that up to 40in (1m) of rain is expected to fall.
U.S. President Donald Trump has signed a disaster proclamation for the state, which will free up federal aid for the worst-affected areas.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott has also warned of record flooding in multiple regions.
Harvey made landfall around 22:00 local time (03:00 GMT) as a Category 4 storm, and has already brought down trees and cut power in the city of Corpus Christi.
Thousands of residents have boarded up their homes and fled.
About three hours after it struck, the storm was downgraded to Category 3 after winds dropped slightly to 125mph (201km/h). It remains life-threatening, and capable of causing major damage to buildings.
The mayor of coastal Rockport, Patrick Rios, urged the few remaining people in the 10,000-strong town to leave immediately.
The city manager said people were trapped in a housing centre for elderly people, where the roof had collapsed and rescue teams were unable to gain access, according to CBS.
Meanwhile the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg has activates a Safety Check in Texas on Facebook.com to help the community in the area. Mark makes this known in a post shared on his timeline earlier today.
“Our community has activated Safety Check in Texas as Hurricane Harvey makes landfall so people can ask for help if they need it and can let their friends and family know they’re okay. This is expected to be the worst storm to hit the state in decades. I’m thinking of the people of Texas tonight and I hope the whole Gulf Coast makes it through this safely.
Hurricane Harvey, a category 1 storm, has made landfall on the Texas coast. The hurricane has been downgraded to category 1. The storm is currently approximately 50 miles northeast of Corpus Christi, TX. Harvey is moving northwest at six miles per hour and is exhibiting maximum sustained winds of up to 100 miles per hour. Multiple buildings in the city of Rockport have collapsed or been damaged, including a senior housing complex, a courthouse, and a high school.
There have been ten reported injuries. Unconfirmed reports indicate the Aransas County Detention Center, near N Live Oak St and E Cornwall St, is being used as a hospital for those in need of care.
The Texas coast is now experiencing tropical storm level winds. Hurricane Harvey is expected to produce rainfall between 15-30 inches over the middle and upper Texas coast. Some isolated areas may receive as much as 40 inches of rainfall. Rainfall amounts between 5-15 inches are also expected in far south Texas and the Texas Hill Country through central and southwest Louisiana. Farther inland parts of Texas and the lower Mississippi Valley may get up to seven inches of rain.
Dangerous storm surges as high as 6-12 feet are expected from Padre Island to Sargent. Storm surges between 1-8 feet are also expected from Sargent to Morgan City. Catastrophic, life-threatening flooding may occur throughout the region. Tropical storm conditions are expected to persist through at least Sunday throughout the region.
There is also a high chance of tornadoes throughout the area affected by the hurricane through Saturday. At least one tornado has been reported in the Galveston area. Texas Governor Greg Abbott has declared a state of emergency for Aransas, Austin, Bee, Calhoun, Chambers, Colorado, Brazoria, DeWitt, Fayette, Fort Bend, Galveston, Goliad, Gonzales, Harris, Jackson, Jefferson, Jim Wells, Karnes, Kleberg, Lavaca, Liberty, Live Oak, Matagorda, Nueces, Refugio, San Patricio, Victoria, Waller, Wharton and Wilson counties in anticipation of Hurricane Harvey. Governor Abbot has also mobilized the National Guard in Texas and at least 700 National Guard troops have been activated to help deal with the hurricane.
Likewise, the Governor of Louisiana has declared a statewide state of emergency. All residents are advised to use extreme caution during the storm and follow instructions from local authorities. Mandatory evacuation orders have been issued for multiple locations along the Texas central coast area in anticipation of Hurricane Harvey making landfall. These include mandatory evacuation orders for areas in San Patricio County, Nueces County, Aransas County, Refugio County, Brazoria County, Jackson County, Matagorda County, and Calhoun County.
Additionally, voluntary evacuation orders have been issued for low-lying areas of Corpus Christi, the West End residents in Galveston, the western part of Nueces County, and some areas in Harris County. In Louisiana, mandatory evacuation orders have been issued for areas of Cameron Parish and voluntary evacuation orders have been issued for parts of Vermilion Parish.
The City of Corpus Christi has suspended all non-essential services. Shell, Exxon, Noble Corp, and Anadarko have all halted or reduced oil and gas output at at least 86 production platforms and 4 rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. In addition, the Flint Hills Resources oil refinery and the Citgo oil refinery, both located in Corpus Christi, have suspended operations. Union Pacific, BNSF Railway, and Kansas City Southern have all suspended freight rail services along the Gulf Coast ahead of Hurricane Harvey.
BNSF has suspended service to and from Galveston, TX, but plans on continuing at least some intermodal services over the weekend in the Houston area as conditions permit. KC Southern has suspended service from Kendleton, TX to Laredo, TX, and anticipates delays of up to 72 hours. Government reports indicate that 21 percent of crude oil production and 23 percent of gas production in offshore Gulf of Mexico has been shut down. The National Hurricane Center has issued a storm surge warning from Port Mansfield to High Island. A storm surge warning means there is a danger of life-threatening inundation during the next 36 hours. A hurricane warning has been issued from Port Mansfield to Sargent. A hurricane warning means that hurricane conditions are expected within the warning area during the next 24 hours. A tropical storm warning has been issued from north of Sargent to High Island. A tropical storm warning mean that tropical storm conditions are expected within the warning area during the next 24 hours.
The tropical storm watch and storm surge watch have been canceled for areas south of Port Mansfield.
Source: Facebook, The Nation Newspaper and ABC
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