UPDATE: At a press conference, officials in Rockport, Texas claimed at least one person was killed and 12 people injured in storm-related incidents. Details were not immediately available.
Hurricane Harvey is losing strength, downgraded to a Category 1 storm with 90 m.p.h. winds. The overnight storm has resulted in heavy building damage and knocked out power to an estimated 250,000 customers in Texas. There are no reports yet of deaths attributed to the storm.
Rockport, located about 31 miles northeast of Corpus Christi, was hit with peak wind surges of more than 125 mph overnight, according to the National Weather Service. Downed power poles and flooded streets prevented authorities from extensive surveys of the damage.
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Despite the downgrade, Harvey is expected to remain at tropical storm intensity for the next four days. The storm made landfall about 9:45 p.m. on Friday, packing winds of up to 130 miles per hour. President Trump has already signed a disaster proclamation, making federal funds available to state and local officials for relief efforts.
The National Hurricane Center said “Harvey is expected to slow down through the day and meander over southeastern Texas through the middle of next week.” However, the Center predicted “catastrophic flooding” from the storm and said some areas had already received 10 inches of rain.
Even with the dire warnings, the worst of the storm appears to have passed the coastal areas, where it initially made landfall.
“It seems like we’ve dodged a bullet,” said Sarah McMullen, a former publicist for Elton John and Roy Orbison, who lives in the Meyerland section of Houston. McMullen’s area is near Braes Bayou, which flooded in several storms. “So far, so good,” she reported, although last night, “the sound in my backyard from the wind was unbelieveably loud.”
Major damage in the Houston area came when a tornado damaged 50 homes this morning in the Sienna Plantation sub-division near Houston. “We’ve had constant tornado warnings,” said McMullen, who has been glued to 24/7 coverage on local networks of storm-related news. Advisories still warn people to stay in their homes, despite the storm lessening in severity.
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