Hanna, the first hurricane of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, made landfall Saturday on the southern coast of Texas, bringing heavy rains and flooding to the U.S. state already battered by the raging COVID-19 pandemic.
Morphing from a tropical storm into a Category 1 hurricane on Saturday, Hanna made landfall on Padre Island at 5 p.m. CDT (2200 GMT) with maximum winds of 90 mph, about 33 miles (53 km) south of the coastal city Corpus Christi, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC).
Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Saturday issued a disaster declaration for 32 counties, many of which have been ravaged by the coronavirus in recent weeks, in view of “a threat of imminent disaster, including property damage and loss of life, due to widespread flooding, storm surge, and hurricane force winds.”
On Sunday, Hanna was downgraded to a tropical storm as it was moving across Texas and northeastern Mexico, but the NHC said heavy rains and strong winds “remain a threat.”
“This rain will produce life-threatening flash flooding, rapid rises on small streams, and isolated minor to moderate river flooding,” the NHC said.
According to the center, Hanna has dumped more than 30 cm of rainfall, flooding streets, destroying homes and knocking out power in Texas.
Its blistering winds have toppled a newly-constructed portion of the border wall built between the United States and Mexico, a video circulating on social media showed.
More than 283,000 homes and businesses were without power across Texas at one point, according to PowerOutage.US, a website that collects live power outage data from utilities all over the country.
“Any hurricane is an enormous challenge,” Abbott said during a Saturday briefing about the storm. “This challenge is complicated and made even more severe, seeing that it’s sweeping through an area that is the most challenged area in the state for COVID-19.”
The number of coronavirus infections continues to surge across the state, which reported more than 390,000 cases and over 5,000 deaths as of Sunday, a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University showed.
More than 440 people in the Corpus Christi area — a region hard hit by the hurricane — were hospitalized with COVID-19, according to the state health department.
According to local media, hospitals were damaged by heavy rains, and water had pooled on the floor and needed to be pumped out. Some patients had to be moved to upper floors.
“Yes, coronavirus provides risk, but so does floodwater, so does not having electricity, so does not having required medications,” a health worker told local media. Enditem