Update On Hurricane Harvey

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

And Hurricane Harvey has hit Texas and is moving slowly northeast of Corpus Christi today. The storm is expected to hover for a few days, so the area may face some devastating floods. We're going to turn now to NPR's John Burnett who's on the job in Rockport, Texas, where the eye of the storm passed last night. John, thanks for being with us.

JOHN BURNETT, BYLINE: Hey, Scott.

SIMON: What are you seeing in Rockport today?

BURNETT: Whew, this poor little town is just - almost been wiped off the map. This is where the full force of a Category 4 came through last night. Winds were clocked at 132 miles an hour. Producer - Russell Lewis and I have been driving this morning from Corpus. And as we got closer and closer, there is not a building that doesn't have some type of damage. I'm looking - we're actually parked at a little port where they have some some tugboats and some pleasure boats all around us. The RV parks have been destroyed. All the sheet metal from convenience stores, from the sides of mobile homes and RVs is just strewn and blown around light poles. All the utility poles are down. The traffic lights are down. There's dead wires across the road, leaves stripped from trees, these great old oak trees. This is the place in Texas that took the direct hit from Harvey. And there are not many folks out. There's a few people walking around in utter bewilderment...

SIMON: Yeah.

BURNETT: ...Trying to imagine that this was once their home.

SIMON: Have you been able to find out anything about injuries or worse?

BURNETT: No. I mean, there is a wire report that there were some folks in a senior center - the roof caved in - in Rockport proper and that there was some injuries there. There were no reported injuries I've heard about in Corpus Christi, which is the largest city down here. So I mean, the structural damage is profound, Scott. So far, we're not hearing about deaths. That may change. That may be a very good sign.

SIMON: And what seems to be the biggest concern right now? The water, the continuing rain - what's going on?

BURNETT: There's not much rain here actually. You know, we're on the tail end of the storm. You can still see these great storm clouds rotating slowly, nothing like a hurricane. It's like no other storm system. But really, it's just kind of some spitting rain. You know, it's down to a Category 1. It's moved up on toward Cuero and Victoria and on inland. And so the rain threat is over. There's still some quite gusty winds.

But now it's just kind of wrapping your mind around what this storm did. And where do you begin to rebuild this once-thriving, you know, sport fishing and tourism town?

SIMON: Yeah. So I would imagine sometime this weekend some people who might have left town might begin to return and and be shocked by what they discover and try and figure out how to go on.

BURNETT: Yeah. I think - some of these places had mandatory evacuations, and so the state police are not going to let them back in yet. It's mainly - there's very few people on the roads this morning. I was actually surprised - not even many emergency vehicles because we are, again, still at the tail end of a Category 1 storm. So you know, the Red Cross - they're not here. They're back in the hotel still. So it's still pretty soon. And of course, we have these expectations of torrential rains happening, you know, farther in the state. And so all the cities - San Antonio and Austin and Houston - are bracing for that.

SIMON: NPR's John Burnett in Rockport, Texas, thanks so much.

BURNETT: You bet, Scott. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.