Daylight Breaks Over Hurricane Harvey's Damage

Aug 26, 2017
Originally published on August 26, 2017 1:17 pm
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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

And now to the latest about Hurricane Harvey, which is moving slowly across Texas northeast of Corpus Christi. There's still high winds and heavy rains, but now the area is looking at potential flooding disasters. NPR's Russell Lewis is in Rockport, Texas, where the storm apparently struck head-on. Russell, thanks for being with us.

RUSSELL LEWIS, BYLINE: Yes, good morning.

SIMON: What do you see there?

LEWIS: Well, what you see is a lot of destruction. You see a lot of flooding. As we were driving into town, we were sort of having to dodge the big puddles of water and also the power lines that are down. And what you see are you see power poles that are just snapped. You see a lot of the corrugated metal buildings with their roofs ripped off. We drove by one boat storage place that was five stories - had five stories of boats inside - completely peeled apart with the boats just inside. You just see unbelievable destruction.

SIMON: There seems to be a lapse in our sound. The line might have collapsed. We're speaking with NPR's Russell Lewis, who is on the job there in Rockport, Texas, where of course Hurricane Harvey struck overnight. The storm sees to be moving slowly across the state, northeast of Corpus Christi. And we understand there are still high winds and heavy rains. Of course, the area is now concerned about potential flooding.

We're going to see if we can get NPR's Russell Lewis in Rockport back on the line - no success with it so far. We've been very fortunate about the fact that over the past few hours, there have been limited reports of injuries and of death. Obviously, that could change during the hours that we find out - we're going to go back to NPR's Russell Lewis.

LEWIS: Turn off their faucets because there's just not enough water pressure. So you know, this is just one of several things that emergency officials and planners are going to be having to deal with today as they try to get a handle on what's going on. You know, we should remember that even though the storm, you know, has come ashore, this is not a typical hurricane where a hurricane comes ashore, quickly weakens and then departs the area. This one is likely to stick around for three or four or five days.

SIMON: Coastal Texas did have a couple of days to prepare for this storm. People were urged to leave the area. What's your estimation? Did many people take that advice and get out before Harvey hit?

LEWIS: Well, certainly some did. As I was driving in from Austin and San Antonio yesterday, you could see a fair number of cars, you know, going the other direction. So certainly, there were some people that evacuated. But here at the hotel that we're staying, there are hundreds of residents who are from Corpus Christi who decided to hunker it out and stay the night here. You know, there were no mandatory evacuations ordered for Corpus Christi.

Some are beginning to wonder, you know, was that the best plan of action? Had a mandatory evacuation been ordered, they would have had to evacuate the hospitals. And that, you know, picks up a whole series of logistical issues. So you know, as the Texas governor ordered yesterday, if you feel unsafe, if you feel unsecure then you should flee.

SIMON: And Russell, what do you see for the next few hours and next few days about when conditions might improve and what people have to contend with?

LEWIS: Well, just in Victoria, Texas, just a little north of here, there was 16 inches of rain that fell overnight - 16 inches of rain. And you're talking about a storm that may linger and meander right around this area for the next three or four days. You're talking about rainfall amounts that maybe 40, 45 inches in some isolated areas. That's going to be the real tell is the flooding, the amount of water and where it goes. And that is going to be the big problem with this storm because it's so slow-moving.

SIMON: NPR's Russell Lewis in Corpus Christi, Texas, thanks so much for being with us.

LEWIS: Yes, you're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.