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Residents along Texas coast prepare for Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Harvey
Hurricane Harvey 02:55

PORT ARANSAS, Texas -- Along the Texas coast Thursday night, people are boarding up, piling sandbags around homes and businesses, and leaving store shelves empty as they stock up on food and water.

It's all in preparation for Hurricane Harvey -- expected to make landfall as a Category 3 and cause potentially catastrophic damage.

Some towns, like Port Aransas, issued mandatory evacuations. Others, like Corpus Christi, have only called for voluntary evacuations.

"We are recommending in the strongest terms, if you live in the low lying areas to get out and get out now," Corpus Christi Mayor Joe McComb said. 

Dionysia Cervantes and Harold Page are doing just that, leaving their new home on Padre Island with only their safe and some artwork.

Page told CBS News he is feeling "real stressed. Extremely stressed. We just bought the house." They have only lived in their home for 30 days. 

"It's kind of sad. 'Cause we don't know what's going to happen. We don't know if we're gonna come back to a home or what damage we're coming home to," Cervantes said. 

Tropical Weather
Residents fill sand bags as they prepare for Hurricane Harvey, Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017, in Corpus Christi, Texas. Eric Gay/AP

The last hurricane to hit Texas was Ike in 2008. It packed winds above 140 miles per hour and killed 113 people in the U.S.

But powerful winds aren't the only danger. Storm surge -- water pushed onshore by the force of the winds -- is the greatest threat to life, responsible for nearly half of hurricane fatalities, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 

For the first time, the National Weather Service issued an official storm surge warning, covering most of the Texas coastline. Surge levels could rise up to 12 feet north of Padre Island.

That still wasn't enough to get Amy Watson to evacuate and leave the restaurant she manages.
"I don't want looters to come in after it hits and all that. So, I just want to stay around and keep an eye on everything," Watson said. 

Is there anything anyone could tell her to change her mind? "Probably not," she said.

Hurricane Harvey on August 24, 2017. CBS News

To the east of Port Aransas, Louisiana is also under a declared state of emergency, and that could mean more trouble for New Orleans. Two weeks ago, parts of that city flooded when several pumps failed. New Orleans is bracing to be inundated with several inches of rain.

CBS Dallas/Fort Worth meteorologist Scott Padgett told CBS News that Harvey has sustained winds of 85 mph and as of Tuesday, was located 305 miles southeast of Corpus Christi.

Hurricane Harvey forecast 01:19

"It definitely is looking like a major hurricane is on the way," Padgett said. 

With plenty of warm water and open water to strengthen it, Harvey will make landfall late Friday night or early Saturday morning as a Category 3 storm. By late Saturday afternoon, Harvey will weaken and slow down and will make its way back to the coastline as a Category 2, Padgett said. 

As it moves its way toward the Southeast and possibly out on the open water, Harvey could possibly restrengthen going into Tuesday, Padgett said. 

The storm surge could hit up to 6-10 feet in some areas, but the big concern is the flooding. Some areas could have as much as 25-30 inches of rain. The rain will spread its way into parts of Louisiana as the track of Harvey starts to move its way northeast. As of Thursday, New Orleans is facing 4 inches of rain, but that number could go up, Padgett said.  

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