CORPUS CHRISTI (Texas) • The town of Rockport - 48km north of the city of Corpus Christi, a major United States oil-industry hub - appeared to be one of the hardest hit by Hurricane Harvey.
Harvey, the most powerful storm to hit the US mainland in 12 years, lashed the Gulf Coast of Texas yesterday, uprooting trees, tearing off roofs and forcing tens of thousands of residents to flee.
Ahead of the storm's arrival, Rockport's mayor told anyone staying behind to write their names on their arms for identification purposes, in case of death or injury.
Mr Steve Sims, the volunteer fire chief in Rockport, said: "Right now, we're still hunkered down and can't go anywhere. We've heard rumours of 1,000 different things, we can't confirm anything because we haven't seen anything. We know we've got a lot of problems, but we don't know what yet."
A high school, hotel, senior housing complex and other buildings suffered structural damage, according to emergency officials and the local media. Some were being used as shelters. Mr Sims said power, Internet and most cellphone service were out in the town of 10,000, where about two-thirds of residents were evacuated. Most of the senior citizens in nursing homes were among the first to be evacuated, he said.
Corpus Christi, a city of 320,000, was under voluntary evacuation for Hurricane Harvey.
We've heard rumours of 1,000 different things, we can't confirm anything because we haven't seen anything. We know we've got a lot of problems, but we don't know what yet.
MR STEVE SIMS, the volunteer fire chief in Rockport, on the situation in the town 48km north of Corpus Christi.
LEAVING EVERYTHING BEHIND
I felt like I didn't want what happened to the guys in New Orleans... to happen to me. I got only what you see me with. Everything I had, I had to leave. Everything. It was bring it with me or lose my life, and I felt like I should save my life.
MR MICHAEL ALLEN, an evacuee from Corpus Christi.
Many residents who fled the worst-affected areas headed for the city of San Antonio, where there were temporary shelters run by the fire department.
"I felt like I didn't want what happened to the guys in New Orleans... to happen to me," Mr Michael Allen, an evacuee from Corpus Christi, told the media.
"I got only what you see me with. Everything I had, I had to leave. Everything. It was bring it with me or lose my life, and I felt like I should save my life."
Sheriff Frank Osborne of Matagorda County, where evacuations were mandatory, told local TV station KHOU that he would not risk the lives of his deputies "to save somebody who didn't leave when they were asked to".
Texas and Louisiana declared states of disaster before the storm hit, authorising the use of state resources to prepare.
The National Hurricane Centre's latest tracking model shows the storm sitting south-west of Houston for days, giving the nation's fourth-most populous city a long dousing of rain and wind. Residents of Houston were woken with automatic flash flood warnings to their cellphones yesterday.
The city warned residents of flooding from close to 60cm of rain over several days.
Petrol stations on the south Texas coast were running out of fuel as residents fled the region. US petrol prices spiked as the storm shut down several refineries and 22 per cent of Gulf of Mexico oil production, according to the US government.
More than 45 per cent of the country's refining capacity is along the US Gulf Coast, and nearly a fifth of the nation's crude oil is produced offshore.
Ms Jennifer Cantrell, 37, a Houston social worker who endured Hurricane Ike in 2008, bought four 18kg bags of topsoil to place at the foot of her door in her first-floor apartment.
"We got to worry about all the folks who moved here in the last few years and haven't seen a hurricane yet," she said.
"You've just got to be prepared to be indoors for days with no electricity, no water."
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, WASHINGTON POST