NEW: The center of Harvey lands between Port Aransas and Port O'Connor
A local official tells residents to write Social Security numbers on their arms if they stay
Hurricane Harvey made landfall Friday night between Port Aransas and Port O’Connor, Texas, as a Category 4 storm with winds of 130 mph, the National Hurricane Center said.
Harvey is the first Category 4 hurricane to make landfall in the United States since Hurricane Charley in 2004.
The storm is poundng the Texas coast and its millions of residents with hurricane-force winds knocking down trees, power poles and signs, and with torrential rain deluging streets.
In its 11 p.m. ET update, the National Hurricane Center said the center of the storm had passed over San Jose Island, bringing with it a dangerous and powerful eye wall.
The hurricane center warns that some areas will see as much as 13 feet of storm surge and large, destructive waves.
And there’s the rain that the slow-moving storm is expected to produce. Because it is expected to come to a near halt inland, Harvey could drop as much as 40 inches of rain in some places, and up to 30 inches in others, by Wednesday.
The combination of wind and water could leave wide swaths of South Texas “uninhabitable for weeks or months,” the National Weather Service in Houston said.
Such daunting language hasn’t been seen by CNN’s experts since Hurricane Katrina, which left more than 1,800 people dead in 2005.
The threat has prompted officials in at least one town to ask residents who stay behind to write their Social Security numbers on one of their arms in case. It will make identifying bodies easier.
“Texas is about to have a very significant disaster,” said Brock Long, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Gov. Greg Abbott warned of record-setting flooding and called on people to flee the area before the storm hits.
“My top goal is to be able to make it through this storm in a way in which we lose no lives,” Abbott said. “Put your life first and your property second.”
Residents were urged to evacuate. A mass exodus from the coast caused extensive traffic jams along the state’s highways, while other people boarded up windows and stocked up on food and water ahead of the storm, the effects of which are expected to last for days.
The storm will stall and dump rain on South Texas and parts of Louisiana into the middle of next week, forecasters predicted.
– Rockport, Texas, officials are advising residents who refuse to evacuate to write their names and Social Security number on a forearm, Mayor Pro Tem Patrick Rios told CNN. Rios said it will “help out first responders should they find a body.”
– The National Weather Service in Corpus Christi issued an extreme wind warning for portions of the Texas coast. “Widespread destructive winds of 115 to 145 mph will produce swaths of tornado-like damage,” the agency said.
– Texas’ governor requested additional federal help with a presidential disaster declaration. The White House is considering the declaration.
– President Donald Trump, who will visit the area next week, has signed a disaster declaration for the state.
FEMA prepared for ‘significant disaster’
Those who stay should “elevate and get into a structure that can withstand potentially Category 3 winds from a hurricane,” said Long, the FEMA director.