CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS - Packing 130-mph winds as a Category 4 hurricane when it hit the Texas coastal towns of Rockport and Port Aransas late Friday, Harvey ripped through the area and collapsed buildings, launched boats into parking lots, shredded RV parks and left at least two dead.
Heavy rain from the now tropical storm is causing life-threatening, catastrophic flooding as search and rescue efforts are underway to help the thousands of people that have been forced to flee their homes.
The devastating storm came ashore about 30 miles northeast of Corpus Christi, which saw downed trees and power lines, broken and twisted signs, debris in the roadway, widespread power outages and some roofs partially torn off.
Flooding overwhelms Houston, thousands stranded
Catastrophic flooding is overwhelming Houston and up to 50 Texas counties as more than 20 inches of rain fell in the area in 24 hours.
More than 30,000 people will need shelter as a result of the unrelenting rain that has hit the region, FEMA Administrator Brock Long said Monday.
A shelter has been set up inside the George R. Brown Convention Center in downtown Houston that can accommodate about 5,000 people and it has already reached half its capacity, according to the American Red Cross.
U.S. Army Corp of Engineers begins releasing water from the overfilled reservoirs
Officials began releasing water from Houston-area reservoirs that were overwhelmed by Harvey in a move aimed at protecting the city’s downtown from devastating floods as continuing rain was putting pressure on the dams that could fail without the release.
Residents living near the Addicks and Barker reservoirs were warned that a controlled release from both reservoirs would cause additional street flooding that could spill into homes.
Rain to continue across Texas, Louisiana
The director of the National Weather Service warned that the flooding will worsen in the coming days as an additional 20 inches of rain could fall on top of the more than 30 inches that some places have already seen.
Director Louis Uccellini said some of the heaviest rainfall Monday will hit east of Houston in places such as Beaumont and Lake Charles, Louisiana, and could fall at a pace of 6 inches an hour.
Where the storm is now
Harvey, now spinning near Port O'Connor, Texas, was forecast to move back into the Gulf of Mexico Monday, the National Hurricane Center said. It will meander over the Gulf for a couple of days before making a second landfall somewhere near the Texas/Louisiana border, likely on Wednesday.
Harvey is then expected to slowly move northeast across Louisiana and Arkansas as a tropical depression from Thursday into Saturday.
Rescue efforts underway
Houston City Police Chief Art Acevedo said officers have rescued more than 2,000 people trapped by the flooding, with another 185 rescue requests still pending as of Monday morning.
The city has grappled with 75,000 calls to 911, and the system has backed up but never went down, authorities said.
The deluge from Harvey was so intense that authorities were urging residents to seek refuge on roofs as emergency crews struggled to make their way through the city by land, water and air amid desperate pleas for help.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has activated the entire Texas National Guard for search and rescue efforts with a total deployment of about 12,000.
FEMA: Recovery could take years
Federal emergency officials said the recovery after Harvey could last for years.
“This disaster is going to be a landmark event," Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Brock Long said Sunday on CNN. “We’re setting up and gearing up for the next couple of years.’’
President Trump said he’ll visit Texas on Tuesday. "Even experts have said they've never seen one like this!,'' he tweeted.
The White House on Sunday also released a summary of a conference call with Trump’s Cabinet, saying the president "continued to stress his expectation that all departments and agencies stay fully committed to supporting the governors of Texas and Louisiana and his No. 1 priority of saving lives."
What can you do to help?
People watching from the rest of the world may feel helpless, but there are ways to get involved and help the victims of this massive storm.
Here are some options:
• Donate money: The best way to help Texans affected by this disaster is to donate money to charitable agencies that are experienced in disaster relief, officials say.
• Volunteer: A multitude of organizations will be involved with disaster relief efforts that will need volunteers to help at shelters, hospitals and rescue centers.
• Donate blood: People wishing to donate blood should contact their local community's Red Cross or check for blood banks in their area.
© 2017 USATODAY.COM