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Hurricane Harvey: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says flooding poses "ongoing danger"

Texas gov on Harvey

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Saturday said ongoing flooding in the wake of Hurricane Harvey poses the greatest danger in the days ahead, as rescue efforts are already underway in the southeast part of the state.

The Republican governor told CBSN that the hurricane, which made landfall late Friday night as a Category 4 storm but has since been downgraded to Category 1, has caused "great devastation." As it moves slowly and unleashes devastating amounts of rain on the Texas coastline, Abbott says flooding is the greatest concern. 

Forecasts are calling for 30 inches of rain by Wednesday, and as much as 40 inches in places, as the storm hovers over southeast Texas in the next few days. The National Hurricane Center has warned Texas residents to prepare for "life-threatening flash flooding."

"Well, obviously there's great devastation where the hurricane hit the area, but also our greatest concern right now is the ongoing flooding that will take place," Abbott said. "That will continue perhaps for days, and that poses ongoing danger."

Despite the torrential rains and powerful winds, rescue operations are already underway, Abbott said. 

"The other thing that we are focused on right now, we are trying to get in as fast as we can to begin the rescue process," the Texas governor added. "Even though the storms are still raging, we have teams already working to get in to try to rescue as many people as we can."

Abbott said he has spoken to the president and his team on "several" occasions, and described the White House's response as, "swift." President Trump on Friday night approved a disaster declaration for the state, freeing up federal resources to assist victims. Harvey is the first major natural disaster of Mr. Trump's presidency, and observers consider it one of his greatest tests yet.

Mr. Trump announced the disaster declaration roughly the same time Harvey made landfall, just after 10 p.m. on Friday.

"What that means is that FEMA has now been triggered to assist the cities, the counties and individuals to begin the rebuilding process," Abbott said. "This was a very swift grant from the White House, and will mean that Texas will be able to begin the rebuilding process even more quickly."

Abbott is scheduled to appear on CBS News' "Face the Nation" Sunday morning to further discuss the state's response to Harvey. 

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