1 dead, Harvey downgraded to tropical storm

Posted at 7:09 PM, Aug 25, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-26 16:29:22-04

(CNN/FOX NEWS/FOX17) -- Texans who rode out the most powerful hurricane to hit the United States in a decade ventured out Saturday to witness the full scale of damage as Hurricane Harvey lumbered on in what was "now turning into a deadly inland event."

At 2 p.m. Saturday, the National Hurricane Center-Atlantic announced on Twitter that it had downgraded Hurricane Harvey to a tropical storm inland over Texas.

Shortly after 4 p.m. Saturday, the mayor of Rockport, Texas, said that one person was killed in a house fire as Hurricane Harvey came ashore Friday night.

The storm, which blasted ashore as a Category 4 around 11 p.m. ET Friday, between Port Aransas and Port O'Connor, was a Category 1 by midday Saturday, packing winds of 80 mph as it plodded northwest at 6 mph. Coastal cities remained in danger of a potentially deadly 13-foot storm surge, with places even far inland predicted to get as much as 40 inches of rain through Wednesday.

Harvey wielded the "highest potential to kill the most amount of people and cause the most amount of damage," Brock Long, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, had warned.

Here's where we stand:

Latest developments

* Harvey's impact will be devastating and leave areas "uninhabitable for weeks or months," forecasters said.

* Even though Harvey had made landfall and weakened, it was still a dangerous storm and "turning into a deadly inland event," the FEMA chief tweeted.

* More than 213,000 customers were without power around 7:30 a.m. ET, on the Texas Gulf Coast, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas said, amid reports of downed power lines and trees.

* Almost 10 inches of rain was reported by 5 a.m. ET at a few locations in southeast Texas, the National Weather Service said.

* A tide gauge in Port Lavaca, Texas, reported storm surge of 6.4 feet, the hurricane center said.

* Structural and building problems were reported in Rockport, Aransas Pass, and Port Aransas, Texas, said Tom Beal, a meteorologist with National Weather Service office in Corpus Christi.

* President Donald Trump tweeted early Saturday that he's "closely monitoring" Harvey from Camp David. Trump, who plans to visit the storm zone next week, has signed a disaster declaration for Texas.

* Rockport's mayor had advised residents who refused to evacuate to write their names and Social Security numbers on their forearms to "help out first responders should they find a body."

Damage assessments to start soon

Firefighters in Rockport "hunkered down" in their station as the eye of the storm passed over the coastal city of about 9,000 residents.

Firefighters were anxious to get out and survey the damage, though they knew it could be hours before they'd be able to safely venture outdoors, Roy Laird, assistant chief with the Rockport Volunteer Fire Department, told CNN early Saturday.

"We had probably 140-mph winds earlier. It was howling," Laird added.

For hours, Karl Hattman and his family listened to "what sounded like a freight train" roar outside their Rockport home. When the fury calmed, they headed out into the darkness to find many trees down, debris blocking their driveway and Hattman's vehicle damaged by flying roof tiles.

"We are very concerned to see what (Harvey) has been done when it lights out in the morning," Hattman said.

Joey Walker, 25, rode out the storm from a house on Galveston Island. The Galveston Island Beach Patrol employee posted video of near-white out conditions overlooking Stewart Beach.

As Harvey continues to douse Texas with heavy rain, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner urged drivers to stay off the roads.

"People need to know, this is not a one-, two-day event and done," he said.

The storm is expected to stall and dump rain on South Texas and parts of Louisiana into the middle of next week, forecasters predicted.