Hurricane Hanna batters Covid-19 hit Texas coast

Disaster declaration issued for 32 counties, with storm surge warning and strong winds

Waves from Hurricane Hanna crash against the Padre Island seawall in Corpus Christi, Texas. Photograph: The New York Times

Waves from Hurricane Hanna crash against the Padre Island seawall in Corpus Christi, Texas. Photograph: The New York Times

 

Hurricane Hanna battered the south Texas coast with blistering winds and crashing waves into the early hours of Sunday, leaving a large area already badly hit by Covid-19 bracing for torrential downpours and potential flash floods.

Hanna came ashore on Padre Island on Saturday as a Category 1 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, and later made a second landfall in Eastern Kennedy County, Texas.

Weakening as it headed west over land, Hanna was a tropical storm by this morning, with its center about 65kms from Mcallen, Texas and about 105k from Monterrey, Mexico, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

This RAMMB/NOAA satellite image shows Hurricane Hannah in the Gulf of Mexico on Saturday as it made landfall. Photograph: Getty
This RAMMB/NOAA satellite image shows Hurricane Hannah in the Gulf of Mexico on Saturday as it made landfall. Photograph: Getty

At around 9am (Irish time), Hanna’s top sustained winds were around 95kph, it said. It was forecast to further lose steam as it moved across Texas and northeastern Mexico.

The centre cancelled storm surge warning it had issued for the Texas coast but said Hanna could dump upward of 45cm of rain in the area through Monday.

“This rain will produce, life-threatening flash flooding, rapid rises on small streams, and isolated minor to moderate river flooding,” the NHC said.

Sandbags are distributed in Brownsville, Texas as residents prepare for torrential rainfall due to Hurricane Hanna. Photograph: AP
Sandbags are distributed in Brownsville, Texas as residents prepare for torrential rainfall due to Hurricane Hanna. Photograph: AP

Texas governor Greg Abbott said during a briefing that the storm was especially challenging as it was sweeping through an area of the state that has been the worst hit by the coronavirus.

He issued a disaster declaration for 32 counties in Texas that were in the storm’s path.

The storm was not expected to affect offshore oil and gas production. Energy companies have not evacuated workers or shut down production from their Gulf of Mexico platforms because of Hanna.

The Texas area struck by Hanna has struggled to contain outbreaks of Covid-19 in recent weeks. Cases along the state’s coast have soared into the tens of thousands.

More than 400 people in Corpus Christi were hospitalized with the illness on Friday, according to city data. - Reuters