South Texas braced itself for flooding on Sunday after Hanna landed like a hurricane, causing winds that hit the Gulf Coast with rain and storm surge to attempt to go to part of the country peaking in coronavirus cases.
The first hurricane of the 2020 Atlantic cyclone season came in twice on Saturday afternoon as a Category 1 storm within a span of just over an hour.
The first landing took place around 5 p.m. local time, about 15 miles north of Port Mansfield, about 130 miles south of Corpus Christi.
The second occurred near eastern Kenedy County, where Hanna made landfall with a maximum sustained wind of 145 mph.
Predictors downgraded Hanna to a tropical storm early on Sunday. The storm had maximum sustained winds at 115 mph, the National Hurricane Center said.
Many parts of Texas, including areas near where Hanna landed, have experienced a wave of cases in Covid-19 in recent weeks, but local officials said they were prepared for whatever the storm would bring.
Chris Birchfield, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Brownsville, said residents should remain alert. Hanna’s winds weakened, but the real threat from the storm remained heavy rain.
“We’re not even close at this point,” he said. “We still expect catastrophic floods.”
Forecasters said Hanna could bring 15cm to 30cm of rain on Sunday evening – with insulated 18cm (46cm) totals – next to the swell of the coast that could cause life-threatening surf and tear current conditions.
Some areas in South Texas had already reported receiving up to 14 inches of rain, including Cameron County, which is adjacent to Mexico and where Brownsville is located. Rainfall totals would rise all evening and through Sunday.
“It’s been all day,” said Melissa Elizardi, a spokeswoman for Cameron County judge Eddie Trevino.
My government is closely monitoring Hurricane Douglas off the coast of Hawaii and Hurricane Hanna, which has now made landfall in Texas. We will continue to coordinate closely with both states â ???? listen to your emergency management officers @Hawaii_EMA & @TDEM to protect your family and property! https://t.co/tFxHLSqcBE
– Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 25, 2020
In a tweet, President Donald Trump said his government was watching Hanna, along with Hurricane Douglas, which was headed for Hawaii in the Pacific.
Sherry Boehme, who lives in a beachfront apartment in Corpus Christi, said the approaching storm had heightened the fear she felt during the pandemic. The 67-year-old has stayed at home mainly because of health problems related to chronic lung disease.
“It’s almost a double blow to us,” she said. “I think it made many people nervous … We’ll get through it. Everyone is good and strong and stays together. ‘
Hanna arrived nearly three years after Hurricane Harvey landed northeast of Corpus Christi.
Hanna wouldn’t be as destructive as Harvey, who killed 68 people and caused an estimated $ 125 billion in damage in Texas.
First responders in Corpus Christi proactively placed barricades near intersections to get them ready when streets flooded, Mayor Joe McComb said.
More than 43,700 people across South Texas, including Corpus Christi, Harlingen, and Brownsville, had no power on Saturday night, according to AEP Texas.
The US Coast Guard was called on to assist in the rescue of a couple on a boat that took water in a port at Corpus Christi, a spokesman said. A rapid water rescue team helped get the pair back on land without injuries.
Corpus Christi is in Nueces County, where health officials made headlines when they revealed that 60 babies tested positive for Covid-19 from July 1 to July 16.
Further south in Cameron County, more than 300 confirmed new cases have been reported in the past two weeks, according to state health data. The past week was also the deadliest in the province’s pandemic.
Coastal states scrambled up this spring to adjust hurricane contingency plans to explain the virus, and Hanna emerged as the first major test.
South Texas officials’ plans for possible rescues, shelters, and storm surveillance will keep the pandemic in mind and include social distance guidelines and mask wear. Cameron County planned to open at least three evacuation shelters. Other counties and cities across South Texas had also opened shelters, many of which required face masks.
Governor Greg Abbott said on Saturday that there would be some shelter in hotel rooms so people could be separated.
“We cannot allow this hurricane to lead to a more catastrophic fatal event by generating additional spread of Covid-19 that could lead to fatalities,” he said.
Several resources and personnel to respond to the storm were available throughout the state, including search and rescue teams and aircraft.
Mr. Abbott said he issued a disaster statement for 32 counties in Texas and asked the federal government to approve a similar statement.
Tornadoes were also possible from Saturday to Sunday at night for parts of the coastal plain from lower to central Texas.