Southern Texas faces flooding, virus double whammy

World | 26 Jul 2020 2:33 pm

South Texas braced for flooding Sunday after hurricane Hanna roared ashore the day before, bringing winds that lashed the Gulf Coast with rain and storm surge to a part of the country trying to cope with a spike in cases of the coronavirus.

The first hurricane of the 2020 Atlantic cyclone season made landfall twice as a Category 1 storm on Saturday afternoon within the span of little over an hour. The first landfall happened at around 5 p.m. about 15 miles north of Port Mansfield, which is about 130 miles  south of Corpus Christi. The second landfall took place nearby in eastern Kenedy County. Hanna came ashore with maximum sustained winds of 90 mph. As of Saturday night, those winds had weakened to 75 mph.

Many parts of Texas, including areas near where Hanna came ashore, have been dealing with a surge in coronavirus cases in recent weeks, but local officials said they were prepared for whatever the storm might bring.

Chris Birchfield, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Brownsville, said residents needed to remain alert. Hanna’s winds were expected to weaken Saturday night, but the storm’s real threat remained heavy rainfall.

“We’re not even close to over at this point,” Birchfield said. “We’re still expecting catastrophic flooding.”

Forecasters said Hanna could bring 6 to 12 inches  of rain through Sunday night — with isolated totals of 18 inches  — in addition to coastal swells that could cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.

Some areas in South Texas had already reported receiving up to 9 inches  of rain, including Cameron County, which borders Mexico and where Brownsville is located. Rainfall totals were expected to rise throughout the evening and into Sunday.

“It’s been all day,” Melissa Elizardi, a spokeswoman for Cameron County Judge Eddie Treviño, said of the rainfall.

In a tweet, President Donald Trump said his administration was monitoring Hanna, along with Hurricane Douglas, which was heading toward Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean.

Sherry Boehme, who lives in a condo along the beach in Corpus Christi, said the storm’s approach had increased the anxiety she has felt during the pandemic. The 67-year-old has mostly stayed at home because of health issues related to chronic lung disease.

“It’s almost like a double whammy to us,” Boehme said Saturday by phone. “I think it’s made a lot of people nervous. ... We’ll get through it. Everybody is good and strong and sticks together.”-AP

 

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