Three Texas state prisons being evacuated because of Hurricane Harvey

TEXAS, (AP)- Texas officials say they are evacuating about 4,500 inmates from three state prisons in Brazoria County south of Houston because the nearby Brazos River is rising from Hurricane Harvey’s heavy rain.

The Department of Criminal Justice says inmates from the Ramsey, Terrell, and Stringfellow Units in Rosharon are being taken by bus to other prisons in east Texas.

Additional food and water has been delivered to the prisons receiving the displaced inmates.

Harvey came ashore in Texas on Friday night as the strongest hurricane to hit the U.S. in more than a decade. It has since weakened to a Category 1 storm.

The National Hurricane Center says Hurricane Harvey’s maximum sustained winds have decreased to about 75 mph (120 kph) and that the storm is now centered about 25 miles west of Victoria, Texas.

The center says in its 10 a.m. update that the storm is expected to weaken over the next 48 hours and to become a tropical storm by Saturday afternoon. The storm is moving north at 2 mph (3 kph).

The hurricane center says that although the winds are weakening, the storm could cause catastrophic flooding over the coming days.

The Coast Guard has sent two helicopters to try to rescue the crews of three tugboats in distress near the Lydia Ann Channel near Port Aransas, Texas around 10 am.

The Coast Guard at Corpus Christi says it received a mayday notification Saturday from crew members aboard the Belle Chase, Sandy Point and Sabine Pass.

Two MH-65 Dolphin helicopter aircrews have been sent to rescue the crews.

Hurricane Harvey has knocked out power to nearly 300,000 customers along the Texas coast and has dumped nearly 20 inches (half a meter) of rain in some places.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which manages about 90 percent of the state’s electric grid, says there were 211,000 outages in the few hours after Harvey made landfall Friday night as a Category 4 hurricane.

That figure rose to 293,000 on Saturday, when the hurricane was downgraded to Category 1.

In addition to loss of power, emergency personnel in the communities northeast of Corpus Christi where Harvey made landfall are reporting loss of cell phone service and other forms of communication.

Daybreak has revealed some of the damage caused when Hurricane Harvey came ashore overnight, including downed lamp posts and tree limbs in Corpus Christi and roof tiles torn off buildings.

President Donald Trump has commended the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency for his handling of the hurricane now hitting the Texas Gulf Coast.

In a tweet Saturday morning addressed to FEMA head Brock Long, Trump said: “You are doing a great job – the world is watching! Be safe.”

In a separate tweet, Trump said he is monitoring the hurricane closely from Camp David and “We are leaving nothing to chance. City, State and Federal Govs. working great together!”

He also tweeted that “We have fantastic people on the ground, got there long before #Harvey. So far, so good!”

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