CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (CBSNewYork/AP) — Hurricane Harvey, now a tropical storm, spun deeper into Texas and unloaded extraordinary amounts of rain Saturday after the once-fearsome hurricane crashed into vulnerable homes and businesses along the coastline in a blow that killed at least one person and injured up to 14.NYPD: Suspect Grabbed 11-Year-Old Girl's Hair, Tried To Choke Her At Stuyvesant Square Park
Throughout the region between Corpus Christi and Houston, many people feared that toll was only the beginning. They did not know the full scope of damage already done, and they dreaded the destruction that was yet to come from a storm that could linger for days and unload more than 40 inches of rain on cities, including dangerously flood-prone Houston, the nation’s fourth-largest.
In the island community of Port Aransas, population 3,800, officials were unable to fully survey the town because of “massive” damage. Police and heavy equipment had only made it into the northernmost street. Mayor Charles Bujan had few other details.
“I can tell you I have a very bad feeling and that’s about it,” he said.
Some of the worst damage appeared to be in Rockport, a coastal city of about 10,000 that was directly in the storm’s path. The mayor said his community took a blow “right on the nose” that left “widespread devastation,” including homes, businesses and schools that were heavily damaged. Some structures were destroyed.
Rockport’s roads were a mess of toppled power poles. A trailer blocked much of one major intersection. Pieces of 100-year-old oak trees impeded the slow passage of emergency vehicles. Wood framing from ripped-apart houses was strewn along Route 35 on the town’s southern end.
Harvey’s relentless wind tore the metal sides off the high school gym and twisted the steel door frame of its auditorium. The windows of some police vehicles had been blown out. The storm also collapsed the third floor of a hotel.
“The curtains on the third floor got sucked out of the building — or on the second floor got sucked out of the building between the walls and are now poking out on the outside,” one guest said.
Seventy-five-year-old Elton Jones’ house was destroyed.
“Every room in the house — the roof caved in,” he said. “I had a clay tile roof. It’s all gone.”
CBS News’ Weijia Jiang met Jones at the only open business in town — a coffee shop still with power thanks to a generator. She asked owner Matthew Otero whether he recognized the badly damaged area.
“I do, but as a hurt Rockport, as a fallen Rockport,” he said.
Rockport Mayor Charles “C.J.” Wax told The Weather Channel that the city’s emergency response system had been hampered by the loss of cellphone service and other forms of communication.
“We’re still in the very infancy stage of getting this recovery started,” said Larry Sinclair, the Aransas County spokesman.
A day earlier, Rockport Mayor Pro Tem Patrick Rios offered ominous advice, telling the station that people who chose not to evacuate should mark their arm with a Sharpie pen, implying that the marks would make it easier for rescuers to identify them.
As many as 14 people suffered minor injuries, including slips and falls, scrapes and a broken leg, Aransas County Judge C.H. “Burt” Mills Jr. said. The lone fatality confirmed so far was a person caught in a fire at home during the storm, Mills said. He did not identify the victim.
About 300,000 customers were without power statewide. Gov. Greg Abbott said it would probably be several days before electricity is restored.
“Ranging from Corpus Christi to the Houston area, perhaps as much as between 20 and 30 more inches could be coming down,” he said. “There is the potential for very dramatic flooding.”
Meanwhile, the storm slowed to a crawl of only 2 mph (3 kph). Rainfall totals varied across the region, with Corpus Christi and Galveston receiving around 3 inches (8 centimeters), Houston 7 (18 centimeters) and Aransas 10 (25 centimeters). Tiny Austwell got 15 inches (38 centimeters).
Elsewhere in the storm’s immediate aftermath, Coast Guard helicopters rescued 18 people from boats and barges in distress, said Capt. Tony Hahn, commander of the Corpus Christi sector.
The Corpus Christi port was closed and will need a lot of repairs before it can reopen. Because Corpus Christi is the third-largest petrochemical port in the nation, authorities will also be on the lookout for spills, Hahn said.
The fiercest hurricane to hit the U.S. in more than a decade came ashore late Friday about 30 miles (48 kilometers) northeast of Corpus Christi as a mammoth Category 4 storm with 130 mph (209 kph) winds.READ MORE: National Pizza Month: More Chefs, Restaurants Pivoting To Pizza Due To The Pandemic
Harvey weakened to a tropical storm by early afternoon. At 4 p.m., its maximum sustained winds had fallen to about 65 mph (104 kph). The storm was centered about 60 miles (97 kilometers) southeast of San Antonio. It was moving north at 2 mph (3 kph), the hurricane center said.
The hurricane posed the first major emergency management test of President Donald Trump’s administration.
Trump met with his Cabinet and other senior administration officials to discuss the federal response to the damage and flooding, the White House said Saturday in a statement.
The president held a video conference from Camp David in which he instructed relevant departments and agencies to “stay fully engaged and positioned to support his number one priority of saving lives,” the statement said.
Trump, who on Friday signed a federal disaster declaration for coastal counties, also reminded department heads that the full impact of the storm will not be apparent for days. On Twitter, he commended the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency for his handling of the disaster.
On Saturday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo pledged aircraft and personnel from the New York Air National Guard to help response efforts in the region.
“New Yorkers first-hand know the damage Mother Nature can cause, and we stand shoulder to shoulder with Louisiana and Texas as they brace for Hurricane Harvey,” Cuomo said in a statement.
Superstorm Sandy, which pummeled New York and New Jersey in 2012, never had the high winds and had lost tropical status by the time it struck. But it was devastating without formally being called a major hurricane.
Daybreak revealed downed lamp posts and tree limbs and roof tiles torn off buildings. The city’s marina was nearly unscathed, save an awning ripped from a restaurant entrance and a wooden garbage bin uprooted and thrown.
Rain fell on Houston at nearly 3 inches (8 centimeters) an hour, leaving some streets and underpasses underwater. The many drainage channels known as bayous that carry excess water to the Gulf were flowing freely and rising.
“Flooding is a minor issue so far,” Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, the chief administrator of the county that includes Houston, said. “Most of the watersheds are well within banks, but we’re not out of this.”
Francisco Sanchez, with the Harris County Emergency Management Office, said the storm would be around for a while.
“Someone is going to get those very high rainfall totals,” he said. “Hopefully it’s not us, but we’re in that possibility area.”
South of the city, about 4,500 inmates were evacuated from three state prisons in Brazoria County because the nearby Brazos River was rising.
The turbulent weather extended into southern Louisiana, where motorists were cautioned about the potential for high water, road hazards, high winds and tornadoes.
In Missouri City, a suspected tornado ripped through the Sienna Plantation neighborhood, damaging as many as 50 homes, Champion reported.
“We’re freaking out and literately you can feel the power of the house just shaking, almost lifting up,” one homeowner said.
Another suspected tornado formed in Cypress, just outside of Houston.
Harvey came ashore as the fiercest hurricane to hit the U.S. in 13 years and the strongest to strike Texas since 1961’s Hurricane Carla, the most powerful Texas hurricane on record.
The storm’s approach sent tens of thousands of people fleeing inland.
Just hours before landfall, the governor and Houston leaders issued conflicting statements on evacuation.
The governor urged more people to flee, but Houston officials recommended no widespread evacuations, citing greater danger in having people on roads that could flood and the fact that the hurricane was not taking direct aim at the city.
The last Category 4 storm to hit the U.S. was Hurricane Charley in August 2004 in Florida.MORE NEWS: Former Rudy Giuliani Associate Lev Parnas Convicted Of Making Illegal Campaign Contributions
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)