In Harvey’s wake: smashed homes, businesses and heavy rain

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (AP) — Hurricane Harvey rolled over the Texas Gulf Coast on Saturday, smashing homes and businesses and lashing the shore with wind and rain so intense that drivers were forced off the road because they could not see in front of them.

The fiercest hurricane to hit the U.S. in more than a decade came ashore late Friday about 30 miles (48 kilometers) northeast of Corpus Christi as a mammoth Category 4 storm with 130 mph (209 kph) winds. It weakened overnight to Category 1.

But the storm’s most destructive powers were just beginning. Rainfall that will continue for days could dump more than 40 inches of water and inundate many communities, including dangerously flood-prone Houston, the nation’s fourth-largest city.

“Our focus is shifting to the extreme and potentially historic levels of flooding that we could see,” said Eric Blake, a specialist at the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

No deaths were immediately reported. High winds kept emergency crews out of many places, and authorities said it could be hours before emergency teams are able to fully assess damage.

By dawn, nearly 300,000 consumers were without power in the coastal region, and nearly 20 inches (0.5 meters) of rain had fallen in some places.

The mayor of Rockport, a coastal city of about 10,000 that was directly in the storm’s path, said his community took a blow “right on the nose” that left “widespread devastation,” including homes, businesses and schools that were heavily damaged. Some structures were destroyed.

Mayor Charles “C.J.” Wax told The Weather Channel that the city’s emergency response system had been hampered by the loss of cellphone service and other forms of communication.

About 10 people were taken to the county jail for treatment after the roof of a senior housing complex collapsed, television station KIII reported.

On Friday, Rockport Mayor Pro Tem Patrick Rios offered ominous advice, telling the station that people who chose not to evacuate should mark their arm with a Sharpie pen, implying that the marks would make it easier for rescuers to identify them.