HOUSTON (Reuters) - Houston will receive two to three feet of additional rain in the coming days, Mayor Sylvester Turner warned residents on Saturday as the most powerful storm to hit Texas in more than 50 years moved inland.
“This is serious,” Turner said in a televised interview as Hurricane Harvey turned into a tropical storm that was expected to linger over the mid-Texas coast. “It is important that people stay off the roads.”
Turner said the city, the fourth most populous in the United States, is prepared for what he described as a “major water event.”
Houston has received about 16 inches (40 cm) of rain as a result of Harvey while neighbouring Corpus Christi has seen about 20 inches. Areas between the two cities could see another 20 to 30 inches of rain, Texas Governor Greg Abbott said at a news conference in Austin, the state capital, earlier on Saturday.
The region is facing the prospect of catastrophic flooding from the torrential rains. Power outages have affected over a quarter million customers in the state and gas stations in Houston have been struggling to keep up with motorists’ demands.
Four refineries in South Texas have shut down, disrupting gasoline supplies and pushing prices higher. In addition, about 25 percent of the U.S. Gulf of Mexico’s oil production was offline as of midday on Saturday, according the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.
One person is reported to have died in a house fire during the storm.
Reporting by Marianna Parraga; Editing by Gary McWilliams and Paul Simao