(photo credit: JPOST STAFF)
ROCKPORT, Texas - A second person was killed on Saturday as Harvey, the most powerful storm to hit Texas in more than 50 years, roared inland, knocking out power to more than 230,000 people and threatening catastrophic flooding.
The second fatality was identified as a woman who was killed as she drove through flooded streets on Houston's west side, a Houston police officer said. On Friday night, an unidentified victim died in a house fire in the town of Rockport, 30 miles (48 km) north of Corpus Christi.
Another dozen people in the area suffered injuries like broken bones, another official said.
Harvey slammed into Texas late Friday as a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 130 miles per hour (209 km per hour), making it the strongest storm to hit the state since 1961. It has since lingered over Houston, dumping 2-3 inches of rain an hour onto the city.
The storm ripped off roofs, snapped trees, triggered tornadoes and flash floods and cut off power to some 232,000 people, mostly in the Houston area, on Saturday night. It also largely curtailed oil and gas production in the state, prompting price hikes at the pumps.
Harvey was downgraded to a tropical storm on Saturday but was expected to lash Texas for days as it lumbers inland, bringing as much as 40 inches (102 cm) of rain to some areas, according to the National Hurricane Center, which described the forecast for the state as potentially "catastrophic."
The Weather Channel reported that rainfall rates in Houston, the fourth most populous city in the United States and home to a third of the 6 million people that could be impacted by Harvey, could reach 5-6 inches per hour, making streets impassable.
Rockport, which took a direct hit from the storm, was left with streets flooded and strewn with power lines and debris on Saturday.
A dozen recreational vehicles were flipped over on a sales lot, one blown into the middle of the street. By Saturday evening, a convoy of military vehicles had arrived in the Rockport area with people and equipment to help in the recovery efforts, and town officials announced an overnight curfew for residents.