President Trump declares Harvey disaster in Texas

TEXAS – President Donald Trump says he has signed a disaster declaration for Texas as Hurricane Harvey nears on the middle Texas coast.

Trump announced his declaration in a posting on his Twitter account.

At 9 p.m., the National Hurricane Center said the storm was “almost onshore” with 130 mph (215 kmh) sustained winds.

A center statement said a station at Aransas Pass run by the Texas Coastal Observing Network had reported a sustained wind of 102 mph (165 kmh) with a gust to 120 mph (193 kmh).

Harvey strengthened rapidly late this week from a tropical depression to a dangerous Category 4 hurricane.

An elected official in the Texas Gulf Coast town near where Hurricane Harvey is expected to reach land says residents who chose to stay should write their Social Security numbers on their arms.

Patrick Rios, the mayor pro tem in Rockport, told KIII-TV of Corpus Christi earlier Friday that Harvey “is a life-threatening storm.”

He says those who stay “should make some type of preparation to mark their arm with a Sharpie pen,” implying that they should make it easier for rescuers to identify them.

Local officials along the Texas coast urged residents to take precautions and, if they were in the direct path of the storm, to evacuate. Thousands of people have headed north so far.