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Some Residents Stay Put As Hurricane Harvey Nears Texas Coast


Hurricane Harvey strengthened today as it headed toward the coast of South Texas. It's now a Category 4 hurricane set to make landfall near Corpus Christi late tonight or early tomorrow. The National Hurricane Center is warning of life-threatening storm surge, rainfall and wind. Texas Governor Greg Abbott has urged people to put their own safety ahead of concerns for their property, and tens of thousands have been fleeing inland from the coast.

NPR's Jeff Brady joins us now from Houston. And Jeff, what does it look like there now?

JEFF BRADY, BYLINE: You know, at this very moment, we're actually having a little bit of a break. It's still raining, but it's raining much lighter than it has been. I just finished a drive about three hours from the area where the storm is supposed to be the most intense when it reaches shore here. And that entire three-hour drive back, there was just waves of wind and rain.

And it got a little hairy at times on the freeway. The big SUV that I'm driving right now would get blown around the road. And the rain was so heavy at times. It was hard to see. But that storm continued for almost the entire three hours of that drive, which gives you an idea of how big this storm is.

SIEGEL: Now, you were in Refugio, Texas, earlier, where a mandatory evacuation was ordered. Were people complying with that order?

BRADY: You know, most people there were. And that was a voluntary evacuation at first. The local officials there - they were going to set up shelters. And they had this plan to let folks stay in town. But then they just ran out of time because this storm developed so quickly that they just didn't have the time they needed to put those plans in place. So now there's a mandatory evacuation in that county. And the authorities are very concerned about the intensity of the hurricane. Stan Upton - he runs the emergency operations center. And he says the county is expecting winds over a hundred miles an hour.

STAN UPTON: We've done all we can to get everybody headed out. Our law enforcement, our EMS, our fire people are staged to where they're protected. And now we've got to wait to see what we're going to have to contend with once this event passes.

BRADY: And this is a small county. And Upton - he was the only person in the emergency management office when I was there. And he's a serious guy. He's - he didn't stop working for the entire time that I was talking to him. And right next to his desk, there is a military-style cot. And he says that's going to be his hotel room for the next couple of days.

SIEGEL: Jeff, you mentioned winds of over a hundred miles per hour. The forecasts are for rain up to 3 feet. How are people preparing for that?

BRADY: Yeah. People are pulling their pets indoors. And anything that could get washed away they're storing. And a few people I talked to are actually leaving their homes. And they're going to stay with family who live on higher ground. I talked with one fellow who's a rancher, Troy Quinn, near Edna, Texas. And he's been busy the last couple of days trying to round up his cows and pull them into a fenced-off area because he doesn't - is concerned that they'll get into trouble down by the river.

SIEGEL: That's NPR's Jeff Brady in Houston. Thank you.

BRADY: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.