The mayor of a coastal Texas town says no one should consider visiting or returning due to the complete devastation wrought by Hurricane Harvey, it was reported on Saturday.
Charles Bujan, the mayor of Port Aransas, said that people are being urged to stay away until emergency crews can clean up leftover debris and wreckage, according to WTSP-TV.
Bujan said that there are search and rescue operations by emergency services underway to find people trapped by the water.
While the mayor provided an estimate of the number of human casualties, there is still no independent verification of these figures.
‘I do know that our town has absorbed a major hit,’ Bujan told San Antonio Express-News.
A vessel is spotted listing in a channel from a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter during an overflight after Hurricane Harvey passed the area from Port Aransas to Port O’Connor, Texas on Saturday
Housing surrounded by flood waters caused by Hurricane Harvey is seen from a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter
People stand on a sinking boat awaiting rescue from a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter, after Hurricane Harvey passed near Port Aransas
A woman sleeps on a cot after she evacuated to a shelter after Hurricane Harvey landed in the Coast Bend area on Saturday in Port Aransas
People stand on a sinking boat awaiting rescue from a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter
Mobile homes are destroyed at an RV park after Hurricane Harvey landed in the Coast Bend area on Saturday in Port Aransas
‘To be honest with you, I’m sick to my stomach.’
Bujan, who is helping oversee the recovery efforts from Corpus Christi, said that he has heard from residents who stayed behind that the town’s harbor and marina are ‘pretty well wiped out.’
Police are also searching for victims at Port Aransas’ Pioneer Trailer Park, which he said suffered a ‘100 percent loss.’
While experts believe the worst of the storm is over, forecasters say that more rain is expected.
Members of the National Guard arrive at Port Aransas after Hurricane Harvey landed in the Coast Bend area on Saturday
The National Hurricane Center has downgraded Harvey from a Category 1 hurricane to a tropical storm
A boat is located on land after Hurricane Harvey landed in the Coast Bend area on Saturday
A mobile home lies split open in the Paradise Lagoons RV Resort on Saturday in Aransas Pass
Mobile homes are upended in the Paradise Lagoons RV Resort in Aransas Pass
‘There’s still talk about some major rain events, but that won’t hinder what we’re doing in town now,’ he said.
‘We are in initial stages of search and rescue and our crews do not need to be hindered in any way.’
The most powerful storm to hit Texas in more than 50 years has killed at least one person and is now threatening catastrophic flooding as search and rescue teams deploy to the hardest-hit zones, authorities said on Saturday.
Harvey slammed into Texas, the heart of the U.S. oil and gas industry, late Friday as a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 130 miles per hour, making it the strongest storm to strike the state since 1961.
It ripped off roofs, snapped trees, and triggered tornadoes and flash floods, and cut power to nearly a quarter of a million people.
It also curtailed a large portion of America’s oil and fuel production, prompting price hikes at the pumps.
Harvey has since weakened to a tropical storm, but is expected to lash Texas for days as it lumbers inland, bringing as much as 40 inches (102 cm) of rain to some areas, and affecting heavily populated.
Houston could receive as much as 2 to 3 inches of rain per hour overnight, Mayor Sylvester Turner said late on Saturday.
The National Hurricane Center described the rain forecast for the state as potentially ‘catastrophic.’
‘Rainfall measured in feet rather than inches can certainly create a catastrophic flood,’ spokesman Dennis Feltgen said.
One person died in a house fire in the town of Rockport, 30 miles (48 km) north of the city of Corpus Christi, as Harvey roared ashore overnight, Mayor Charles Wax said in a news conference on Saturday, marking the first confirmed fatality from the storm. Another dozen people in the area suffered injuries like broken bones, another official said.
Water rises on a home after Hurricane Harvey landed in the Coast Bend area on Saturday in Port Aransas
Cleaning crews clean debris located on Highway 361 after Hurricane Harvey landed in the Coast Bend area
A boat is located in the middle of the street after Hurricane Harvey landed in the Coast Bend area
Charles Bujan, the mayor of Port Aransas, said that people are being urged to stay away until emergency crews can clean up leftover debris and wreckage
Electric poles are destroyed after Hurricane Harvey landed in the Coast Bend area
Bujan said that there are search and rescue operations by emergency services underway to find people trapped by the water
A truck is flipped over after Hurricane Harvey landed in the Coast Bend area
The town took a direct hit from the storm and had streets flooded and strewn with power lines and debris on Saturday afternoon.
At a recreational vehicle sales lot, a dozen vehicles were flipped over and one had been 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.
‘It was terrible,’ resident Joel Valdez, 57, told Reuters.
The storm ripped part of the roof from his trailer home at around 4am, he said as he sat in a Jeep with windows smashed by the storm.
‘I could feel the whole house move.’
Before the storm hit, Rockport’s mayor told anyone staying behind to write their names on their arms for identification in case of death or injury.
A high school, hotel, senior housing complex and other buildings suffered structural damage, according to emergency officials and local media.
Some were being used as shelters.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Saturday said he was activating 1,800 members of the military to help with the statewide cleanup, while 1,000 people would conduct search-and-rescue operations.