Hurricane Harvey has claimed its first victim as the storm, which made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane before weakening to a tropical storm by noon, threatens to cause even more damage thanks to catastrophic amounts of rainfall over the next several days.
The fatality occurred in Rockport, a town of about 10,000 people, where roughly half of the residents decided to ignore Gov. Greg Abbott’s dire warnings to evacuate. Reports indicate that the victim perished as the result of a house fire, while at least 14 other people have sustained injuries related to the storm.
While the storm’s staggering 130 mph winds have largely subsided, authorities are now warning about heavy rains that are expected to inundate the area well into the week. Flash floods and swollen rivers could imperil residents who do not take the storm seriously.
“Our focus is shifting to the extreme and potentially historic levels of flooding that we could see,” said National Hurricane Center specialist Eric Blake, who predicted “potentially catastrophic” rainfall for the next few days.
Authorities have yet been unable to carry out repairs and assess the damage thanks to strong winds, which have also thwarted emergency crews and destroyed communications systems.
“There’s been widespread devastation,” Rockport Mayor C.J. Wax told CNN on Saturday. “We’ve taken a severe blow from the storm, but we’re anticipating another one when the flooding comes.”
In nearby Corpus Christi, the city’s 320,000 residents have been advised to cut back on their use of faucets and toilets after power outages rendered waste water plants and sewage treatment centers inoperable.
Forecasters have not ruled out the possibility of affected areas receiving a whopping 40 inches of raining over the coming days before Harvey dissipates.