Texas residents are being told to evacuate and take all necessary precautions as Hurricane Harvey is expected to touch down on Friday night, in the strongest hurricane to make landfall in the Texas Coastal Bend in nearly 50 years.
“I strongly urge all Texans to heed warnings from your local officials and I also urge that you immediately follow evacuation orders for all impacted counties — particularly in the Corpus Christi and Houston areas where the storm surges and flooding from Hurricane Harvey are most likely,” Gov. Greg Abott said in a statement.
Harvey, which is expected to touch down Friday night or early Saturday morning along the Texas Gulf Coast, is expected to bring up to 35 inches of rain, CNN reports. Flood waters and destructive waves could reach heights of up to 12 feet along the Texas coast.
The storm, currently Category 2, is expected to become a Category 3 hurricane by time it makes landfall with winds of more than 100 mph, CNN reports. As it strengthens, forecasters said Harvey will be the nation’s first Category 3 hurricane to make landfall in nearly 12 years, according to The Weather Channel.
Officials have labeled Harvey a “life-threatening storm” that will put millions of people in a “grave risk,” the Associated Press reports.
“Please take all necessary precautions to save your life and to minimize risks,” Gov. Abott added in the statement. “Don’t take any chances and evacuate when you are ordered.”
Now, local businesses in the storms path are shutting down and residents are clearing out grocery stores in preparation. Meanwhile, Corpus Christi’s Driscoll Children’s Hospital was airlifting 10 sick, premature babies from its neonatal intensive care unit to a hospital in Fort Worth, according to the AP.
The infants were expected to arrive at the hospital by early Friday and an official told the publication that hospital staff feared that power outages at the Corpus Christie hospital might disable the babies’ ventilators.
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Abott has requested that 700 National Guard members be activated for the storm and Ports of Corpus Christi and Galveston are closed, according to CNN.
Residents lined up during the week to catch buses to safer areas and roads were packed with backpack-carrying residents heading out of town.
“I’m shaking inside, but for them, I’m trying to be strong,” a Corpus Christi mother of two said, according to CNN.