Corpus Christi (Online): Hurricane Harvey made landfall on the Gulf Coast of Texas late Friday, US meteorologists said, warning that "catastrophic flooding" was expected due to the heavy rains kicked up by the monster storm.
Harvey, which became a category 4 storm as it churned ashore, hit land at 10:00 pm (0300 GMT Saturday) near the town of Rockport, packing maximum sustained winds of 130 miles (215 kilometers) an hour, the National Hurricane Center said.
President Donald Trump heeded Texas Governor Greg Abbott´s call to declare a "disaster" zone in the state in order to speed federal aid to the millions of Americans in harm´s way both there and in Louisiana.
The arrival of the storm -- which was packing sustained winds of 130 miles (215 kilometers) an hour -- was the first major domestic challenge for Trump, who the White House said would head to the affected region early next week.
"We can obviously tell already at this stage this is going to be a very major disaster," a somber Abbott said, as more than 1,000 National Guardsmen were activated to help with evacuation and recovery.
"We´re going to be dealing with really record-setting flooding in multiple regions."
Hurricane-force winds started lashing the coast as night fell and coastal water levels rose.
Harvey, the first major storm of the annual Atlantic hurricane season, has forced hundreds of thousands to flee their homes, crippled oil production in the Gulf and wreaked havoc on air travel.
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) has warned of possible "catastrophic" flooding.
"All the advice we can give is get out, and get out now," said Patrick Rios, the mayor of Rockport, where a majority of the town´s 9,500 residents had left.
Rios had blunt words for those determined to stay, telling them to "mark their arm with a Sharpie pen, put their social security number" -- to be identified if found dead.
Before the storm hit, the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) prepositioned emergency supplies and authorities issued mandatory evacuation orders in many areas.
As he headed to the Camp David presidential retreat for the weekend with his family, Trump said: "Good luck to everybody."