Texas Gov. Greg Abbott today requested a Presidential Disaster Declaration to deal with what he says is 'life threatening and record setting' flooding from rain and storm surge,, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
Abbott also encouraged more people to evacuate endangered and low lying areas where Hurricane Harvey's rains are likely to cause potentially deadly flooding.
"You may think that the initial surge is something that you will be able to deal with, but what you don't know and you have no way of knowing now, will be the magnitude of flooding that will be occurring over the coming days, in the aftermath of the initial surge."
Plenty of people have evacuated from communities around Corpus Christi, which issued mandatory evacuation orders, and Corpus Christi itself, which issued a voluntary evacuation order.
Frank Edwards was not planning to leave his home in Corpus Christi, but changed his mind when he heard extend of the danger presented by Harvey.
"When that 4AM forecast came down and we were looking at everything, we thought it was safer if we got our, rather than stayed there and tried to hunker down," he said. "This just looks like the kind of storm we don't want to be a part of."
Most major businesses in Corpus Christi have closed their doors to allow their customers to evacuate if necessary.
Several dozen emergency shelters have been opened around San Antonio, where most of the evacuees from the Texas coast have ended up. Mayor Ron Nirenberg said the city has the capacity to house some 6,000 evacuees, but no figure was available on the number of people who are actually seeking shelter in the city.
Henry Van de Putte, executive director of the San Antonio Red Cross, was busy training volunteers to operate those shelters today, and he said with San Antonio also expected to receive potentially flooding rain, this is a very challenging storm.
"Once it hits, we not only have a mass of people coming in here for safety, but there is a chance that even some of our local folks will need help due to flooding."
The College of Geosciences at Texas A&M University says its models show that Harvey could leave some 1.25 million people in south central Texas without electric power. “Typically, hurricane-related outages are caused by downed power lines, which result from strong winds or trees getting entangled with the lines,” researcher Dr. Brent McRoberts said. “Strong winds will blow over both the powerlines and the trees.”
He said his prediction comes from measuring the expected speed of the tropical storm force winds expected to move well inland, as well as the breadth of Harvey's impact on the state.
Fire trucks and other first responders from across Texas are staging in the parking lot of San Antonio's AT&T Center, the home of the NBA's Spurs, where they will be ready to move quickly to whichever part of the Texas coast is hit the hardest.
"Debris removal, additional evacuations, medical assistance, any and all of those areas," Bexar County spokeswoman Monica Ramos said.
Abbott said a serious concern is the projecting winding path of Harvey, which is expected to come ashore tonight or early Saturday, travel about fifty miles inland, and then stall out and actually return to the Gulf again, where it will come ashore again and could dump similarly heavy rains later this week on Houston, a city which is notoriously flood prone.
"Right now it appears that the Houston area will be spared the brunt of the hurricane force and the surge that goes along with it, but there is the possibility of flooding," he said. "If you want to take charge of your life, and be sure you are taking the greatest possible safety for yourself and your safety, I think it would be a good idea for you to take a few days out of the Houston area, and be safe."
Despite the warnings of devastating storm winds and historic flooding, some people are brushing it off the danger. Paul Smith is ignoring all of the calls to evacuate, and he says he is just fine where he is, in his apartment in downtown Corpus Christi, right in the target of the storm.
"I'm way up high, I'm like on the third floor," he said. "This complex is made out of concrete and steel, I don't think it's going anywhere."