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Hurricane Harvey, the fiercest hurricane to batter the US in more than a decade, has hit Texas with strong winds and torrential rain.
The eye of the storm reached land at around 10pm on Friday with “life threatening” 130 mph winds, the National Hurricane Center said.
Thousands of residents had fled the Gulf Coast in the past few days as President Donald Trump signed a disaster proclamation promising to unleash “the full force of government help”.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott had warned that the monster system would be “a very major disaster,” and the predictions drew comparisons to Hurricane Katrina, one of the deadliest ever to strike the U.S.
On Friday night reports of damage began to emerge from coastal city Rockport, home to around 10,000 people that was directly in the path of Harvey when it came ashore.
Pictures from the city show homes destroyed and parts of the historic centre severely damaged in the storm.
Power was also cut, trees were uprooted and the roof of Rockport High School caved in.
Several people were taken to the county’s jail for assessment and treatment after the roof of a senior housing complex collapsed.
Harvey was initially rated as a category one storm on Friday morning before quickly being upgraded to a category four by the evening.
In the early hours of Saturday local time, the storm was downgraded to a category three as winds slightly weakened.
It came ashore as the fiercest hurricane to hit the U.S. in 13 years and the strongest to strike Texas since 1961’s Hurricane Carla, the most powerful Texas hurricane on record.
Harvey is thought to drop up to three feet of rain, bringing flooding of “the depths of which we’ve never seen”, one expert said.
Sometime early next week forecasters said it could go back into the warm Gulf of Mexico waters, which provide fuel, then turn back in for a potential second hit on what may be an already flooded Houston-Galveston area.
Before the storm arrived, home and business owners raced to nail plywood over windows and fill sandbags.
President Donald Trump signed a disaster proclamation as he faced his first emergency as US leader.
On Twitter he said: “At the request of the Governor of Texas, I have signed the Disaster Proclamation, which unleashes the full force of government help!”
The President is currently in Camp David “closely watching the path and doings of Hurricane Harvey”.
Additional reporting by Associated Press.
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