Special Report: Hurricane Harvey makes landfall in Texas as a Category 4 storm

National Hurricane Center warns of catastrophic flooding due to rain fall and storm surge.
16:48 | 08/26/17

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Transcript for Special Report: Hurricane Harvey makes landfall in Texas as a Category 4 storm
report. Hurricane Harvey, state of emergency. Now reporting. Juju Chang. I'm juju Channing at ABC news headquarters in New York. We are coming on the air for breaking news. Hurricane Harvey barreling into the Texas coastline as a category IV with 135-mile-an-hour winds. It's the first category 4 to hit the U.S. I over a decade. Threatening rainfall totals that could render some areas uninhabitable for months. Thousands republicplungds into darkness. People are perhaps trapped under the rubble. Our ABC news team is spread out along the coast. Take a look at the radar. You can see where hurricane Harvey is. The eye of the storm recently passed over rockport, Texas. Joining us now from rockport is the fire chief in, Steve Simms. Steve, I know you've been a firefighter for 13 years, what kind of damage are you beginning to see tonight? A lot of fairly severe. We haven't been able to get out and really look at things much other than what's right around close to our station. The eyewall just passed over us and our wind has picked back up again, so we're hunkered down in our main station. There are reports that there are several building, including a high school that's partially collapsed. There's some reports of students trapped there. Will you atent rescue? Not the way it is now. We have nothing to get on the highway with. Our hands are tied and it's killing all of us. I'm sure, as first responders, that must be the hardest thing to have to sit and wait. Very much. Yet, what is your community going through tonight? Clearly, people are bracing for many more hours, if not days for this storm's damage to get unleashed. Oh, most definitely. We've been hunkered down for -- since early evening and like I say, the eyewall just passed over us. It must be quiet now and yet 130 mile nourp winds, what does that sound like in the fire department when it went over you? The best way I can describe it is a tin can being kicked down the road. That loud? That loud. Being in a metal building with the big metal roll-up doors, it rattled and shook and just, you know, real -- get your nerves on end. Sure. You're part of the fabric of this community. What fears do you have for your town tonight? Well, I'm -- I fear we're going to really see some severe damage. Like I say acti, we haven't been able to get out and see what we've got going, but it's not looking good. Well, the entire country has its eyes on you tonight and our thoughts and prayers go out to you tonight, Steve. Thanks so much for joining us. Thank you. Here with me in the studio live is Kate parker, meteorologist. I know you live and breathe these hurricanes, but you're also from Texas. It am. This is close to your heart, I know. It's surreal looking at this image, honestly. It was 48 hours that we went from a tropical depression up to a category IV hurricane. It was moments ago downgraded to category 3. Category 3 and 4, it's potentially lethal. When you go through the first part of the eyewall, everything glows one direction. You've got the back side of that, everything's knocked loose. Everything goes in the opposite direction. The back side is frequently the worst side. There were some mixed signals. There were. Look at the size of the storm. If you look at the path of it, there's widespread Flach watches, I think that will be war. Look at how this me anders as a hurricane over Texas through next Wednesday. You're dumping not inches but possibly feet of rain. And tornado warnings on top of that. It is historic levels. What we're worried about is the flooding. That's try. This storm has so much spin within them. We're going to see tornedo watches and warnings on top of all this rainfall. It's not just a little bit of rain. Look at this. Feet of rain is what we're communicating. Not inches but feet. The rainfall totals say it all. This is going to drag over for a number of days and have a ripple effect. You not only have the storm surge coming in -- and that's measured in feet, right, 10-plus feet in some players -- you have rain on top of that. There's nowhere for it to drain, nowhere to go. Would you're going to stay with us in our coverage of the hurricane. Now we'll go to Matt Gutman in Corpus Christi where they could end up with three feet of rain. Matt has been out all day. Matt? This storm has changed direction. The wind now coming from behind me, bearing ever more rain. The major concern right now is getting to the people who need help, but power outages are rampant throughout this part of Texas. 120,000 people in and around Corpus Christi without power right now. There's all sorts of debris in the roadway. A few moments ago we've seen panel after panel of pleksy gplexiglas. These are the kinds of hazards rescuers are facing. It's why they're struggling so mightily to get out and give the help they need. With this deluge coming down the streets blackened and all of this debris is out on the roadways. It's going to be some time before rescuers are going to be able to get to everyone who need it. Rockport got battered by the eye of the storm for another 12 hours. They're going to see hurricane strength winds until 8:00 P.M. Tomorrow. This is a very serious situation. The reason we're seeing 17,000 national guardsmen called up. We don't know how bad it is. We are right here in corporates Kris -- Corpus Christi. Rockport was a ghosttown with a Manhattan tore evacuation. The mayor saying if you stay you better write your name and social security number with a sharpie on your arm because you might die. The situation is very, very concerning. Farther up the coast we're seeing the same types of things. What is going to be happening over the next couple of hours and days is re-enforcements Aring go to be coming inasmuch as check but so many areas, low lying. The roads just to get in will be inundated. Talking about this 12-foot storm surge, getting them help is going to be very difficult, very trying in the coming hours and days nchts juju. Thanks, Matt Gutman in corpus Christi. We're going to turn to port lavaca. An area that as Matt pointed out, may have resources cut off because of the condition of the roads. Rob has been reporting from there all day. Rob? Reporter: We have retreated up doors. It's too dangerous to be outside. You can hear the clanging across our hotel. Parts of the hoefrl have been shoord off, downspouts, parse of the outer walls have been torn off. Railing has been pushed down. There are some street lights out there that have been torn down as well. This thing in the dark is even scarier. It made landfall as the lowest pressured lafrl since hurricane Rita in 2005. I was in that storm. It hit in the middle of the night and it's just as scary here in port lavaca. This hotel is fairly new. It's painfully coming apart. The storm surge has made us an island. You can hear the wind cranking up even more. It is nasty, nasty to be outside. It's going to be a long night here in port lavaca. Juju back to you. Thanks, rob. I have to say I'm glad to see you safe and indoors. We're going to turn to Houston where Victor okindo has been standing by. There are ripple effects that will be felt but Victor give us a sense of the flights to be canceled, the cruise ships that have to go back out to sea. There's a lot to sort through. Reporter: There is a lot, juju. Here in Houston it's been raining all day and into the night. Not expectation the main rain to happen until tomorrow. More than 130 flights were canceled between Houston and Corpus Christi's flights. We just got word that corpus Christi's airport is closed and likely will not reopen O until Monday. Something else to ksh. Experts say Harvey will affect gas prices. More than 45% of U.S. Refining areas are off coast. We could be looking at significant increases from five cents to 15 yents per gallon. As for Houston area, Harvey is very reminiscent of tropical storm Allison. It devastated 24 area, destroying tens of thousands of homes, jumping three -- dumping three feet of rain in some spots. Killing 23 people. Sints then, the city has spent nearly $1 million to shore up the bayous that overfroed in 2001. So far in Houston, the mayor saying there is no need to evacuate at this time. Juju? Victor, thanks for that. Victor is in Houston. Kate, you pointed out that Houston even with minimal rainfall has a severe threat of flooding. That's right. It's extreme there. The bayous have a problem it's important to remember that nine out of ten deaths in hurricanes come from water. Either on land where you have flash flooding, or they come from storm surge. It's important to point out tonight as we're facing the eye of this storm. Thanks, Kate. We're going to turn now to the nation's capital. This is president trump's first major natural disaster that he's facing. The federal response already under way. We're going to go to ABC's Gloria Rivera who can talk about all that. Gloria? Reporter: Here in Washington we expected to be covering solely the federal response to the storm but the president has delivered two more headlines. Let's start with Harvey. The president is updating with Twitter followers through the night, tweeting that his administration is fully engaged with open lines of communication. And to those in the path, America is with you. He signed a disaster proclamation that at the request of the Texas government to unleash the full force of government help. This makes federal funding available to recovery efforts expected to have a large bill. That news came just before 10:00 P.M. Local time. Marking the first test in how well this administration will handle the storm, how effective it can be in an emergency, and speaking of effective, this president hack multi-tasking since the storm started. About 15 minutes after that news broke -- you see him going to camp David -- again O on Twitter from camp David the president announced that he's granted a full pardoned to controversial Arizona sheriff Joe ash paea. He was an early and outspoken supporter of the president. The two closely aligned in support of building a wall on the border with Mexico. Now there was quick backlash to that from Washington allh over Arizona, John McCain says that pardon undermines trumps claim to respect the rule of law. That is a big headline. But it's not all. Before the night was over the president released a presidential memorandum directing the Pentagon to ban transgender people from joining the military. That directs department of defense to stop related treatments. It comes on the same day in his weekly address the president said every person who puts on the uniform makes the country proud. We'll be following all the headlines. A lot of headlines. A lot of news to absorb. President trump said he may visit Texas as early as next week. He has. If you look back over history, hurricane Katrina comes to mind. President bush took a lot of heat for not going to the area. It was several days in hurricane Katrina until vice president at the time Dick Cheney arrived on the scene. The president saying he will go to Texas sounds very good coming from the white house. Of course, many of the people there, a presidential visit would have a great significance. It may cause a headache for all of the responders on the ground there, all of the lodge I that go into keeping the president safe and getting him in and out of the area, all evening, this storm expected to go on and on and on. So that news from the white house, we'll see what comes of it. But you're right, the president again saying he'll get to the region as soon as he can. Juju? Thanks for that reporting from D.C. Kailt, final thoughts on the storm as we look at this trail? We see land. We've seen a secondary landfall first on the barrier islands and then on the mainland here. This is not over. This is not landfall and the storm is over. We'll likely see fairly often with storms, this is into next Wednesday that we watch this meander around south Texas. This is one to watch. If you're living in the area be prepared for waters to rise tnt. Flash flooding is a real risk. Wow, all that rain false at th same time. You mentioned the speed of the wins. Some of those are equivalent to tornadoes, you were saying? Yes, a low-end tornado could be 90 miles an hour. The max sustained winds in hash very is 130 miles an hour. We're hearing reports of people potentially trapped in buildings. It is clearly life threatening. It is a major potential disaster facing our country. We're going to return to program, which on the west coast will be a live edition of kboit nightline" we'll begin our coverage at 5:00 in the morning with a special edition of good morning America. Thanks for joining us. And prevent dry, crepey skin from head to toe.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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