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1st Hurricane Of The Season Hits Texas With High Winds, Heavy Rain

SARAH MCCAMMON, HOST:

South Texas is braced for flooding after Hurricane Hanna battered parts of the state yesterday. It was downgraded to a tropical storm after it made landfall twice as a Category 1 hurricane. Hanna is the first Atlantic hurricane of the season and the first to hit the southern coastal region of Texas since Harvey two years ago. But this storm comes in the middle of a global pandemic and at a time when Texas is struggling with a high number of COVID cases.

Joe McComb is the mayor of Corpus Christi, Texas, about 30 miles north of where Hurricane Hanna made landfall. When we spoke earlier this morning, I asked him about the conditions there.

JOE MCCOMB: Well, the sun - there's not much sun. Just dawn is breaking, getting to have a little daylight. We're going to go out and do an assessment. From what I can see on the news through just the evening and the night, it appears that we, one, had no casualties or personal injuries, so that's the good news. The bad news is I think we had a lot of beach erosion. We're going to have some neighborhood flooding.

We lost one of our major tourist attractions in terms of a huge fishing pier out on Padre Island - about five - 750-foot pier that - the pier just disappeared as a result of the storm surge. The video camera that they had out there watching the pier that the surfers look at all the time to see when the surf is good for surfing - one picture, the end of the pier is there. The next picture, it's not. It's kind of scary.

But the pier was damaged. It's operated by the county. But as far as I know, a lot of just debris that we're going to have to pick - that we did lose power throughout the city at different times. I was - and my house was without power from 8 o'clock till 11. And it came back on. And then when I went to bed, it was on. But - and then it went out 'cause my light - my alarm was blinking. So I - fortunately, I woke up this morning in time. But...

MCCAMMON: Right.

MCCOMB: ...We're having periodic outages. But our AEP, our provider - they're doing a great job getting it restored as quickly as possible.

MCCAMMON: And I want to ask you, mayor - you know, you're dealing with, as we said, a hurricane and a pandemic. The area...

MCCOMB: Right.

MCCAMMON: ...You're in is among several COVID-19 hot spots, so a whole lot of concerns there. What kind of planning went into getting ready for this?

MCCOMB: Well, we - one of the good things is that we did not have to call for an evacuation, so that left the people in the hospitals without having to be relocated to another community, which was really a blessing with as many people as we have that does have the COVID virus. We also took precautions that any shelters that were going to be made available to people - we want them to be tested before they came in, having to bring their masks and - a handful of masks with them while they were there.

And - but it - that didn't happen. As far as we know, the shelters didn't have to open. The hospitals have their own backup power, so they obviously didn't lose power, I mean, when the regular electricity went off. So I think from a medical standpoint, I think there was any - there was no interruption in providing service to these folks. And...

MCCAMMON: I'm going to...

MCCOMB: ...I think social distancing was kept as best we could. We encouraged people that got - went with families to get out of harm's way.

MCCAMMON: But to social distance. Mayor, I'm going to have to stop you there. That's Mayor Joe McComb joining us from Corpus Christi, Texas.

Thank you.

MCCOMB: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.