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Race against time to rescue thousands of people from devastated areas of Texas as Harvey threatens to make landfall for a SECOND time, bringing up to 50 inches of rain
The George R Brown Convention Center (pictured) in downtown Houston, Texas, has a capacity of up to 5,000 people, but Monday night 9,021 people stayed in the center, which was opened as the city's main shelter for flood evacuees. According to Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke, there are currently about 20,000 Hurricane Harvey evacuees total in shelters
Though the military has been limited in its ability to help in rescue and recovery efforts because of weather and flooding, Air Force Major General James Witham said up to 30,000 National Guard troops could be called on to help in Texas. Rescue helicopters are pictured landing on the Eastex Freeway in Houston on Tuesday
Floodwaters in Texas continued to rise after five consecutive days of rain that set a new record for rainfall for a tropical system. In Cedar Bayou, Texas, rains reached 51.88inches Tuesday afternoon, the record for Texas and the continental US. Interstate 69 (pictured) is covered by floodwaters in Humble, Texas
There are initial reports that at least 18 people have died from the storm and its aftermath, however, the complete death toll can't be fully counted until after the floodwaters recede. Pictured: people make their way out of a flooded neighborhood in Houston
A home is surrounded by floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey on Tuesday in Houston. With its flood defenses strained, the crippled city of Houston anxiously watched dams and levees Tuesday to see if they would hold until the rain stops and meteorologists offered the first reason for hope of a forecast with less than an inch of rain and even a chance for sunshine
As waters continue to rise, public health officials are warning that flooding increases the risk of ills ranging from skin rashes to bacterial and viral infections and mosquito-borne disease. Pictured: A boat navigates through floodwaters in Houston
Witham, the director of dometic operations for the National Guard Bureau, told reporters there are currently about 3,500 National Guard troops involved in Harvey rescue efforts, including 3,000 from the Texas National Guard.
He estimated that the Texas guard number could rise to 8,000 to 10,000 in coming days, possibly joined by 20,000 to 30,000 from other states.
He said the military is providing everything that has been requested by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, although the response is constrained by the stormy weather and by flooding that limits use of roadways.
He said weather has limited the use of military helicopters over the past two or three days, so the Guard has instead used boats and ground vehicles to rescue stranded residents in the Houston area.
Besides the additional National Guard troops from other states, there are about 1,000 active-duty military forces in position to provide assistance if called up by civilian authorities, he said.
Asked whether Texas authorities recognized the magnitude of the disaster quickly enough, Witham said, 'That's debatable.' He said in some respects the need was recognized quickly. But the extraordinary amount of rainfall and flooding exceeded what state planners could have foreseen.
'So if you're looking at an event that only occurs every few hundred years, the planning that would have normally occurred for that probably wasn't here,' Witham said.
'So, in many cases, the request for assistance, not only for the National Guard but federal forces, may not have been anticipated quickly enough.'
Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said Tuesday the Houston Police Department has rescued more than 3,500 people from flooding and Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña said the city fire department had rescued more than 400.
Lt Mike Hart said Monday that the Coast Guard has been receiving more than 1,000 calls an hour, adding that Monday alone, they rescued more than 3,000 people.
Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said Tuesday the Houston Police Department has rescued more than 3,500 people from flooding and Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña said the city fire department had rescued more than 400. Pictured: Interstate 10 is closed due to floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey Tuesday
Lt Mike Hart said Monday that the Coast Guard has been receiving more than 1,000 calls an hour, adding that Monday alone, they rescued more than 3,000 people. Pictured: Interstate 10 in Houston is covered with floodwaters
A boat travels along Interstate 10 as floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey cover a portion of the highway Tuesday
As waters continue to rise, public health officials are warning that flooding increases the risk of ills ranging from skin rashes to bacterial and viral infections and mosquito-borne disease.
Michael Brown, the former head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said Hurricane Harvey would bring more devastation to Texas than the historic Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
In an interview with The Houston Chronicle, Brown explained that the scope of the flooding in Houston - where up to 49 inches of rain has fallen - is considerably worse than was seen in New Orleans and other towns in Louisiana after Katrina.
'There are several factors that make it worse than Katrina. For one there is the scope of the flooding. Harris County and the surrounding areas are so saturated.
'Also, the amount of damages will continue to grow. There will be mold and structural damages adding up.'
1,833 people died as a result of Katrina. More than 273,000 people were in shelters and more than 1million are thought to have lost their homes.
The full extent of the damage caused by Harvey is not yet clear. On Tuesday, there were 17,000 in shelters and more were being rescued by the minute.
Eighty-percent of New Orleans flooded as a result of the storm as levees failed. On Tuesday, the first levee in Texas was breached as the flood waters rose.
New Orleans is bracing itself to be pounded by Harvey which is scheduled to make landfall in Louisiana on Wednesday.
On Monday afternoon the town of Dickinson issued a mandatory evacuation order and residents near Columbia Lakes in Brazoria County were told Tuesday morning to leave immediately after a levee was breached.
Residents within 1.5miles of a chemical plant in Crosby, Texas, were evacuated on Tuesday as a 'precautionary measure' because of the rising risk of an explosion, the local fire marshal's office said in a Twitter message.
More than 17,000 people have sought refuge in Texas shelters and that number seemed certain to increase, the American Red Cross said.
As people continue to flock to the overcrowded George R Brown Convention Center, Houston is planning to open a few other 'mega-shelters' for evacuees.
'We are not turning anyone away. But it does mean we need to expand our capabilities and our capacity,' Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said. 'Relief is coming.
Televangelist Joel Osteen opened his Houston megachurch, a 16,000-seat former arena that was the longtime home of the NBA's Houston Rockets, on Tuesday as a shelter after social media critics slammed him for not offering to house people in need while Harvey swamps the city.
Osteen announced the effort in a tweet, saying he and wife Victoria Osteen 'care deeply about our fellow Houstonians'.
Volunteers and donors had lined up outside the Toyota Center, the downtown arena that is home to the Houston Rockets NBA team, earlier Tuesday in anticipation that it will be one of the new shelters.
Later in the day, the Toyota Center was accepting people who could not find space at the convention center.
There will also be a shelter opening on the west side, near where more than 3,000 homes have been flooded. Another center in Humble, Texas, will house people from the city's northern suburbs, the mayor said.
Mayor Turner also said the city has asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency for more supplies, including cots and food, for additional 10,000 people, which he hopes to get no later than Wednesday.
The mayor also issued an overnight curfew beginning on Tuesday night for an indefinite period amid incidents of looting, armed robberies and people impersonating police officers.
The curfew will run from 10pm until 5am and Houston is bringing additional police from other regions, Turner said in a news conference Tuesday evening.
'You cannot drive, nor be in any public place. We have had problems with armed robberies, with people with guns and firearms,' Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said.
Those who violate the curfew will be questioned, searched and arrested, Acevedo said.
The curfew comes after fourteen people were arrested for looting in the Houston area over the past 48 hours, as floodwaters from Harvey continue to devastate the region.
Officials said Tuesday night they have received disturbing reports of people impersonating Homeland Security special agents and telling residents to evacuate in order to rob their homes.
The city of Houston says people should ask anyone knocking on their doors for official badges and credentials with their name and organization. The city's statement also notes that during Harvey relief efforts, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement is not conducting immigration enforcement operations in the area.
The city also says in a tweet in both English and Spanish that it is not checking the immigration status of anyone coming into shelters.
Write your social on your arm': Grim warning to Texans as they brace for WALLS OF WATER from Harvey after buildings collapse, 250,000 are left without power and $40bn damage is expected
People and rescue boats line a street at the east Sam Houston Tollway as rescues continue from flooding following Tropical Storm Harvey
Floodwaters reached the rooflines of single-story homes Monday and people could be heard pleading for help from inside as Harvey poured rain on the Houston area for a fourth consecutive day after a chaotic weekend of rising water and rescues
Evacuees from Dickinson, Texas, board an airplane at Scholes International Airport on Monday in Galveston, Texas. Texas Air National Guard planes took evacuees to cities, including Dallas, where they can stay in shelters
A Nacogdoches firefighter helps Sara Golden and her daughters Paisley, Poppy and Piper, of Dickinson, Texas, evacuate and board a Texas Air National Guard C-130 at Scholes International Airport in Galveston
Evacuees are helped to dry land after their homes were inundated with flooding from Hurricane Harvey in Houston
Theresa Ross receives a tank of oxygen when she arrived to the George R. Brown Convention Center seeking shelter with her husband in Houston on Monday
Thousands take shelter from the Tropical Storm Harvey at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston on Monday
People are rescued from a flooded neighborhood. Floodwaters reached the rooflines of single-story homes Monday and people could be heard pleading for help from inside as Harvey poured rain on the Houston area for a fourth consecutive day after a chaotic weekend of rising water and rescues
People are rescued from a flooded neighborhood on Monday in Houston. Hurricane Harvey, which made landfall north of Corpus Christi late Friday evening, is expected to dump upwards to 40 inches of rain in areas of Texas over the next couple of days
Evacuees in Houston make their way to dry land after leaving their homes that were inundated with flooding from Hurricane Harvey
A boy is lifted from a rescue truck on a street at the east Sam Houston Tollway
A man reaches to take a small dog from a rescue truck at the east Sam Houston Tollway as evacuations in Houston continue
Genice Gipson (right) comforts her lifelong friend, Loretta Capistran (left), outside of Capistran's apartment complex in Refugio, Texas, on Monday. 'We got to be strong, baby,' Gipson told Capistran
Texas Governor Greg Abbott looks over destroyed stores in Rockport during a tour of areas damaged by Hurricane Harvey, on Monday
A view of Rockport Donuts, local restaurant serving food to residents and aid workers, in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in Rockport, Texas
Hurricane Harvey has now been upgraded to a Category 4, exceeding forecasts of how strong the storm would be when it slams into Texas, as residents in the storm's path are being told to label themselves in case they die.
The hurricane is expected to hit land shortly, as waves are washing up on roads, traffic lights are blown over and hurricane shelters have made their final lock-downs with the storm just miles from the Texas Gulf Coast.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott warned that Hurricane Harvey would be 'a major disaster' as the storm barreled toward the state, which is expecting catastrophic flooding, power outages, winds up to 130mph and more than 40 inches of rain on top of storm surges up to 13 feet.
Harvey is on course to make landfall as the strongest storm since the devastating Katrina 12 years ago, triggering 'catastrophic' floods in an area that processes some seven million barrels of oil a day - in what could prove a major new test for President Donald Trump's administration.
As Trump departed the White House for Camp David on Friday afternoon, he responded when asked what message he had for the people of Texas: 'Good luck to everybody. They're gonna be safe. Good luck to everybody. Good luck.'
Governor Abbott minced no words in underscoring the severity of the threat.
'What you don't know and what nobody else knows right now is the magnitude of flooding that will be coming,' Abbott said in a press conference on Friday afternoon, adding that the state 'will be dealing with immense, really record-setting flooding in multiple regions across the state of Texas.'
Hurricane Harvey is now a Category 4 as the storm barrels towards Texas and is expected to slam into the state's gulf region late on Friday night. Pictured: A power generator container tips in front of a hospital on the Corpus Christi-Shoreline
Although the hurricane has not hit land just yet, traffic lights have already been blown over and hurricane shelters have made their final lock-downs as the storm is just 35 miles from Corpus Christi
The hurricane exceeded forecasts of how strong the storm would be when it slams into Texas, as residents in the storm's path are being told to label themselves in case they die
The storm had sustained winds of 130mph on Friday evening as it approached the Texas coast of Corpus Christi. Pictured: As of 9pm CDT, the hurricane is 30 miles out from hitting the shore
Texas Governor Greg Abbott warned that Hurricane Harvey will be 'a major disaster' as Texans are expecting flooding, power outages, winds up to 130mph and more than 35 inches of rain
Heavy rainfall of as much as 40 inches plus strong storm surges are expected to combine for 'devastating' flooding
An estimated eight million people are under a hurricane warning, with additional millions under a tropical storm warning
Tropical Storm Harvey Moving Into Caribbean Sea After Causing Flooding
Texas is bracing itself for the storm of the decade as Hurricane Harvey barrels towards the state, which is expecting catastrophic flooding, power outages, winds up to 130mph and 30 inches of rain.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Harvey has 'rapidly intensified' and experts say weather conditions have created the perfect recipe for the monster Category 3 hurricane to form and crash into Texas late on Friday night.
The national guard has been mobilized amid fears over the life-threatening flash flooding, which poses 'a grave risk' to Texans as the hurricane is expected to be the strongest to hit the United States mainland in 12 years since Hurricane Wilma in 2005.
Texas is bracing itself for the storm of the decade as Hurricane Harvey (pictured) can be seen from outer space
The powerful 'perfect' storm is barreling towards the state with expected flooding and up to 30 inches of rain on Friday night
Rogelio Ortiz makes his way off the Pirate's Landing Fishing Pier as rain from Hurricane Harvey falls in Port Isabel, Texas
The national guard has been mobilized amid fears over the life-threatening flash flooding, which poses 'a grave risk'
The hurricane is expected to be the strongest to hit the United States mainland in 12 years since Hurricane Wilma in 2005
Local mayors have warned residents 'to get out of Dodge' as flooded waters could cause alligators to wash up on people's front door steps.
President Donald Trump is standing by and monitoring the hurricane, ready to provide necessary resources to the gulf region, the White House said on Thursday. Trump is asking citizens to plan ahead for the storm.
National Weather Service director Louis Uccellini said meteorologists expect the hurricane to hail down with winds of 130 mph or higher and up to 30 inches of rain, which could lead to major chaos in southeast Texas.
The powerful storm is set to hammer the Texas Gulf Coast with an extremely dangerous combination of 'torrential rainfall, storm-surge flooding and destructive winds this weekend, before taking a strange, meandering path next week', the Weather Channel reported.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordered the State Operations Center to elevate its readiness level, making state resources available for possible rescue and recovery actions, in addition to activating 700 members of the Texas Army Guard, Texas Air National Guard and the Texas State Guard.
The national guard has been mobilized amid fears over the life-threatening flash flooding, which poses 'a grave risk' to Texans. Pictured: The projected path of the expected track of the circulation center
People are panicking as grocery stores are rapidly selling out of water and supplies in Houston (pictured), increasing the frenzy on Thursday night before Hurricane Harvey is expected to hit Texas the following day
President Donald Trump is standing by and monitoring the hurricane, ready to provide necessary resources to the gulf region, the White House said on Thursday. Trump is asking citizens to plan ahead for the storm
The Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office sent out an alert to residents about potential sightings of alligators due to the storm
Harvey grew quickly Thursday from a tropical depression into a Category 1 hurricane. Fueled by warm Gulf of Mexico waters, it was projected to become a major Category 3 hurricane.
The last storm of that category to hit the U.S. was Hurricane Wilma in October 2005 in Florida.
The storm officially became a Category 2 hurricane as of 1am on Friday morning, on track to strengthen to its expected Category 3 level by Friday night.
At a press conference on Thursday afternoon, Corpus Christi's Mayor Joe McComb told people not to dismiss Harvey and to voluntarily evacuate, saying: 'We encourage the residents in low-lying areas, as they say, to get out of Dodge.'
McComb added: 'Go to a family, friend and get to higher ground.'
The mayor's warning comes on the heels of Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office sending out an alert to residents about potential sightings of alligators due to the storm.
The department tweeted: 'Gators and flooding advice via @txgatorsquad: Expect them to be displaced. Simply looking for higher ground. Leave alone until water recedes.'
Rain started to fall in Port Isabel, Texas, on Thursday night as Hurricane Harvey is expected to hit the region the next day. The storm officially became a Category 2 hurricane as of 1am on Friday morning
Hurricane Harvey is expected to be the strongest to hit the United States mainland in 12 years since Hurricane Wilma in 2005
Residents wait inside the Corpus Christi Natatorium to board a bus to evacuate to San Antonio ahead of Hurricane Harvey on Thursday in Corpus Christi, Texas
Residents fill sand bags as they prepare for Hurricane Harvey in Corpus Christi, Texas. Two counties have ordered mandatory evacuations as Hurricane Harvey gathers strength as it drifts toward the Texas Gulf Coast
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a press briefing on Thursday that Trump is ready to respond with aid to Texas and surrounding areas affected by the hurricane.
She said: 'We have acting secretary Elaine Duke who's watching this closely and very involved in the process along with the acting director for FEMA and again, I think that we are in great shape, having General Kelly sitting next to the president throughout this process.
'There's probably no better chief of staff for the president during the hurricane season, and the president has been briefed and will continue to be updated as the storm progresses.
'And certainly it's something he's very aware of and will keep a very watchful eye on. He stands ready to provide resources if needed.'
The president was previously briefed on the government's hurricane preparations from FEMA disaster relief officials earlier this month, reported The Hill.
Trump said: 'FEMA is something I've been very much involved in already. We've already taken care of many of the situations that really needed emergency funds. We do it quickly, we do it effectively, we have an amazing team.'
On Thursday, Trump released a video of him meeting with FEMA officials on Twitter, asking citizens to plan ahead for Hurricane Harvey and provided links to resources.
Hurricane Harvey is following the perfect recipe to be a monster storm, meteorologists say.
Warm water. Check. Calm air at 40,000 feet high. Check. Slow speed to dump maximum rain. Check.
University of Miami senior hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy said Harvey combines the worst attributes of nasty recent Texas storms: The devastating storm surge of Hurricane Ike in 2008; the winds of Category 4 Hurricane Brett in 1999 and days upon days of heavy rain of Tropical Storm Allison in 2001.
Rainfall is forecast to be as high as 35 inches through next Wednesday in some areas. Deadly storm surge - the push inwards of abnormally high ocean water above regular tides - could reach 12 feet, the National Hurricane Center warned, calling Harvey life-threatening. Harvey's forecast path is the type that keeps it stronger longer with devastating rain and storm-force wind lasting for several days, not hours.
'It's a very dangerous storm,' National Weather Service Director Louis Uccellini told The Associated Press. 'It does have all the ingredients it needs to intensify. And we're seeing that intensification occur quite rapidly.'
Warm water is the fuel for hurricanes. It's where storms get their energy. Water needs to be about 79 degrees (26 Celsius) or higher to sustain a hurricane, McNoldy said. Harvey is over part of the Gulf of Mexico where the water is about 87 degrees or 2 degrees above normal for this time of year, said Jeff Masters, a former hurricane hunter meteorologist and meteorology director of Weather Underground.
A crucial factor is something called ocean heat content. It's not just how warm the surface water is but how deep it goes. And Harvey is over an area where warm enough water goes about 330 feet (100 meters) deep, which is a very large amount of heat content, McNoldy said.
'It can sit there and spin and have plenty of warm water to work with,' McNoldy said.
If winds at 40,000 feet high are strong in the wrong direction it can decapitate a hurricane. Strong winds high up remove the heat and moisture that hurricanes need near their center and also distort the shape.
But the wind up there is weak so Harvey 'is free to go nuts basically,' McNoldy said.
Before it hits the Texas coast, Harvey is projected to go over an even deeper and warmer eddy to supercharge it a bit more, just like what happened to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, but not quite as bad, Masters said.
If that's not bad enough, there's a good chance that after Harvey hits it will follow a track so close to the coast and not so much inland that it will essentially keep a toe in the water. The storm could be big enough that not all of it is over land. Because of that, the National Hurricane Center forecasts that it will remain at least tropical storm strength - and 40 mph winds - through Tuesday, maybe into Wednesday.
Because it looks like Harvey will be meandering at around 10 mph and then will likely stall out over the coast or just a bit inland, that means it will stay over one place and keep raining, Masters said. Day in, day out until the middle of next week.
'We're talking feet of rain, not inches,' Masters said.
And the storm's heavy rains can last not just a few hours but 'over a two-, three-, four-day period' from Texas to Louisiana, Uccellini said.
As the storm looms, customers are fighting over water as grocery stores are rapidly selling out of supplies, increasing the frenzy before Hurricane Harvey arrives.
Officials have asked residents to evacuate as they prepare for chaotic flooding and power outages but those who are staying in the path of the hurricane rushed to grocery stores in order to stock up on water, food, gas and other supplies on Thursday night.
However, they arrived to find shops with empty shelves, causing people to fight over the last containers of water as some likened the scenes to Black Friday.
People have taken to social media to post pictures of the mad dash as they went to get supplies on Thursday night.
Photos show people waiting in long lines to check out with pallets of water bottles in their carts and cars lined up around blocks to get gas.
One user wrote on Twitter: 'People grabbing cases of water like it's a Black Friday sale. Hurricane Harvey is real.'
Another said: 'I had to drive almost 30 minutes to find a store that has water... This Houston hurricane is no joke man.'
A dismayed woman wrote: 'Bread is gone. Gas is gone. Water is gone. If you don't have it already, you need to befriend your neighbors.'
The powerful storm is set to hammer the Texas Gulf Coast with an extremely dangerous combination of 'torrential rainfall, storm-surge flooding and destructive winds' this weekend. Pictured: People stocking up on water in Houston
Shelves were empty, causing people to fight over the last containers of water as some likened the scene to Black Friday. People took to social media to post pictures of the mad dash as they went to get supplies on Thursday night in Houston
Customers enter H-E-B Plus in Corpus Christi, Texas on Thursday to stock up on supplies in advance of Hurricane Harvey
Governor Abbott preemptively declared a state of disaster for 30 counties on or near the coast to speed deployment of state resources to any areas affected.
Trump called Abbott on Thursday night to personally tell him that he was ready to help respond to the strongest hurricane expected to hit the US in more than a decade.
Abbott tweeted out a photo of himself on the phone with Trump and said: 'Spoke with Pres. Trump & heads of Homeland Security & FEMA. They're helping Texas respond to #HurricaneHarvey.'
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards also received a call from Trump that night, tweeting: 'Spoke w/ @POTUS @realDonaldTrump this afternoon. He offered his full support to the people of LA as we prepare for #Harvey.'
A statement released by Abbott added: 'President Trump called Governor Abbott to offer federal support for the State of Texas as Hurricane Harvey approaches the Gulf Coast.
'The President pledged all available resources from the federal government to assist in preparation, and rescue and recovery efforts.
'The Governor thanked the President for his pledge of support and assured him that the state is working hand-in-hand with local and federal partners on all issues related to the storm.'
President Trump urged citizens to prepare for Hurricane Harvey on Thursday and said he is ready to provide aid. The president called Texas Governor Gregg Abbott (right) later that night to personally inform him of his planned aid
There were also reports of blown off roofs, fallen trees and damaged utility poles.