Local Texas Mayor Confirms First Death in Hurricane Harvey

August 26, 2017 Updated: August 26, 2017    

Rockport Mayor Charles J. Wax confirmed that one person was killed in a house fire when Hurricane Harvey landed on the shores of Texas last night, Fox News reported.

The identity of the victim has not been released.

Hurricane Harvey is the most powerful storm to hit Texas in more than 50 years. It is now threatening catastrophic flooding as it lumbers inland and dumps torrential rains, authorities said on Saturday, Aug. 26.

Harvey hit Texas, the heart of the U.S. oil and gas industry, late Friday as a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 130 miles per hour, making it the strongest storm to strike Texas since 1961.

Hurricane Harvey is pictured off the coast of Texas, U.S. from aboard the International Space Station in this August 25, 2017 NASA handout photo.   NASA/Handout via REUTERS
Hurricane Harvey off the coast of Texas from aboard the International Space Station in this Aug. 25, 2017, NASA handout photo. (NASA/Handout via Reuters)

The storm has ripped off roofs, snapped power lines, and triggered tornadoes and flash floods. It has weakened to a tropical storm, but is expected to lash Texas for days, bringing as much as 40 inches of rain. Texas utility companies said nearly a quarter of a million customers were without power.

Earlier, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said he would activate 1,800 members of the military to help with the statewide cleanup while 1,000 people would conduct search-and-rescue operations.

In Rockport, which took a direct hit from the storm, the streets were flooded and strewn with power lines and debris on Saturday. At a recreational vehicle sales lot, a dozen vehicles were flipped over and one had been blown into the middle of the street.

“It was terrible,” resident Joel Valdez, 57, told Reuters. The storm ripped part of the roof from his trailer home at around 4 a.m., he said. “I could feel the whole house move.”

Traffic lights lie on a street after being knocked down, as Hurricane Harvey approaches in Corpus Christi, Texas. (REUTERS/Adrees Latif)
Traffic lights lie on a street as Hurricane Harvey approaches in Corpus Christi, Texas. (Adrees Latif/Reuters)

Valdez said he stayed through the storm to look after his animals. “I have these miniature donkeys and I don’t know where they are,” he said, as he sat in a Jeep with windows smashed by the storm.

Resident Frank Cook, 56, also stayed through the storm.

“If you have something left of your house, you’re lucky,” he said, surveying the damage from his vehicle.

Before the storm hit, Rockport’s mayor told anyone staying behind to write their names on their arms for identification in case of death or injury.

A collapsed overhead gantry lies across Interstate 37, blocking the highway due to damage caused by Hurricane Harvey in Corpus Christie, Texas, U.S., August 26, 2017.   REUTERS/Mohammad Khursheed?
A collapsed overhead gantry lies across Interstate 37, blocking the highway due to damage caused by Hurricane Harvey in Corpus Christie, Texas, Aug. 26, 2017. (Mohammad Khursheed/Reuters)

A high school, a hotel, a senior housing complex, and other buildings suffered structural damage, according to emergency officials and local media. Some were being used as shelters.

The coastal city of Port Lavaca, farther north on the coast, had no power and some streets were flooded.

“There is so much tree damage and debris that the cost of cleanup will be enormous,” Mayor Jack Whitlow told Reuters, after touring the city earlier Saturday.

The streets of Corpus Christi, which has around 320,000 residents, were deserted on Saturday, with billboards twisted and strong winds still blowing.

Donna Raney makes her way out of the wreckage of her home as Daisy Graham tells her she will help her out of the window after Hurricane Harvey destroyed the apartment on August 26, 2017 in Rockport, Texas. Donna was hiding in the shower after the roof blew off and the walls of her home caved in by the winds of Hurricane Harvey. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Donna Raney makes her way out of the wreckage of her home as Daisy Graham tells her she will help her out of the window after Hurricane Harvey destroyed the apartment on Aug. 26, 2017, in Rockport, Texas. Donna was hiding in the shower after the roof blew off and the walls of her home caved in by the winds from Hurricane Harvey. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

City authorities asked residents to reduce the use of toilets and faucets because power outages left waste water plants unable to treat sewage.

A drill ship broke free of its mooring overnight and rammed into some tugs in the port of Corpus Christi, port executive Sean Strawbridge said. The crews on the tugs were safe, he added.

The city was under voluntary evacuation ahead of the storm.

Harvey was a Category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale when it hit the coast, the second-highest category, and the most powerful storm in over a decade to come ashore anywhere on the U.S. mainland.

Reuters contributed to this report.

From NTD.tv