August 25, 2017 — Hurricane Harvey picked up strength as it roared toward the Texas Gulf Coast Friday morning, and remained on track to make landfall near Corpus Christi and drench parts of the state with as much as 35 inches of rain.
The storm is currently a Category 2 Hurricane with sustained winds of 110 mph as it drifts across the Gulf of Mexico, according to the National Hurricane Center. It is expected to keep intensifying before making landfall late Friday or early Saturday.
Forecasters said on Friday that the storm could bring 15 to 25 inches of rain to a wide swath of the central Texas coast, and up to 35 inches to some spots. Some coastal areas issued mandatory or voluntary evacuation orders, and the region was bracing for widespread flooding and damage.
The storm is the first substantial hurricane to hit Texas since Hurricane Ike struck the Gulf Coast in 2008.
From the small coastal communities tucked along Gulf of Mexico up towards Houston, emergency officials were scrambling Friday morning to lay final preparations before Harvey hit. In a bulletin issued Friday morning, the National Hurricane Center urged them to rush as conditions are expected to worsen throughout the day.
Mandatory evacuations were ordered Thursday afternoon for residents of Calhoun and Victoria counties along the coast. By late Thursday night, a steady stream of cars choked highways heading north as many residents decided to leave their homes and head for safer ground inland.
Public buses were fanning out across the region early Friday morning to ferry people away from the storm. In a Facebook post, the police department for the tiny town of Port Lavaca also urged residents to leave immediately.
“If you choose to stay, be aware that we will not be responding to any calls during the storm for officer safety. EMS and Fire will not respond in winds over 40 mph,” the police department said.
In Corpus Christi, a city of roughly 325,000 that lies close to the storm’s path, city officials said that people living in low-lying areas were being strongly encouraged to leave ahead of the storm, but it had not issued a mandatory evacuation order.
The city was distributing sandbags to residents—20 for each household or business—to safeguard against flooding, and numerous events planned for Friday in the area were being canceled.
Already this week, Gov. Greg Abbott preemptively declared a state of disaster in 30 Texas counties—including heavily populated Harris County, which encompasses Houston—in anticipation of what the damage Harvey is expected to cause.
Late Thursday, Mr. Abbott said he spoke with President Donald Trump and the heads of the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
A statement from Mr. Abbott’s office said President Trump called him “to offer federal support for the State of Texas…the President pledged all available resources from the federal government to assist in preparation, and rescue and recovery efforts.”
Meantime, many Houston school districts canceled classes for Friday, and officials in the area were preparing for a major flooding event, though the impact to the city may not play out for days.
Houston officials said the city “is preparing for significant impacts” from the hurricane—mostly in the form of heavy rains that could swamp the city. Officials warned rain could cause dangerous flash floods. Residents were being urged to have a week’s worth of food and water on hand.
The Houston Ship Channel was closed off Friday to both incoming and outgoing vessels.
Houston has been prone to deadly flooding in past years because it is low lying, sees a large amount of rain and has poor drainage. The city’s fire department was readying for water rescues, city officials said, and may cordon off intersections that are prone to flooding.
In April 2016, a storm poured more than a foot of rain across the area and left eight people dead. Flooding from that storm also caused widespread damage across Houston.
BDP International was informed this morning that Houston’s Barbours Cut and Bayport Container Terminals will close today at noon. Truck in-gates will close at 1100 to ensure that all trucks are worked timely. The safety and well being of BDP employees and their families are the top priority during this time. Our local team will closely monitor the weather conditions and will continue to keep customers apprised as the situation with Hurricane Harvey unfolds. Should you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to your local BDP representative.
Sources: The Wall Street Journal and BDP International