Hurricane Harvey makes landfall in Texas

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CORPUS CHRISTI, AUG 26 (DNA) – Hurricane Harvey slammed into the Texas coast late Friday, unleashing torrents of rain and packing powerful winds as it became the first major storm to hit the US mainland in 12 years. President Donald Trump granted Texas Governor Greg Abbott s call to declare a “major disaster” zone in the state in order to speed federal aid to the millions in harm s way. The arrival of the storm — which was packing sustained winds of 130 miles (215 kilometers) an hour — was the first major domestic challenge for Trump, who the White House said would head to the affected region early next week.

“We can obviously tell already at this stage this is going to be a very major disaster,” a somber Abbott said, as more than 1,000 National Guardsmen were activated to help with evacuation and recovery.

Indeed, the National Hurricane Center warned that “catastrophic flooding” was to be expected due to the massive amount of rain expected and the huge storm surge, which could reach 13 feet (nearly four meters) in some places.

Meteorologists warned that tornadoes were possible through Saturday from Texas into Louisiana, which was also expected to take a major hit from the storm.

Harvey, the first major storm of the annual Atlantic hurricane season, has forced hundreds of thousands to flee their homes, and crippled oil production in the Gulf.

Landfall came in the small town of Rockport, not far from Corpus Christi, which is a major hub for the US oil industry.

Rockport Mayor Patrick Rios had blunt words for those determined to stay, telling them to “mark their arm with a Sharpie pen, put their social security number” — to be identified if found dead.