The San Antonio River Flood Control Tunnel Outlet flows far under capacity south of downtown.
The San Antonio River Flood Control Tunnel Outlet flows far under capacity Saturday morning south of downtown. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

Hurricane Harvey, a threatening Category 4 hurricane as it sat off the Texas Gulf Coast Friday night, was downgraded to a tropical storm Saturday as it moved inland from landfall northeast of Corpus Christi. Harvey brought stiff wind gusts and intermittent rainfall to San Antonio through Saturday night, raising fears of flooding, but officials had braced for far worse.

A Sunday press conference at Emergency Operations Center, which included statements from Mayor Ron Nirenberg, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood, and other officials, signaled the City’s shift from local damage control to supporting affected communities across the state.

“San Antonio has dodged the worst of it, but [tropical storm Harvey] is impacting our coastal neighbors in a very significant way,” Nirenberg said. “We are standing down our daily emergency service activities, but staying activated to assist the rest of state in rescue operations. Our fire department is actively providing support, including EMS personnel and additional mutual aid.”

Nirenberg announced that all Council district field offices would operate as additional donation drop off sites to assist the San Antonio Food Bank in its relief efforts (more information below). VIA Metropolitan Transit, San Antonio area school districts, and City operations and facilities such as senior centers and libraries are set to resume regular activity on Monday, the mayor added. Citizens are encouraged to donate blood, as supplies have quickly been depleted with emergency medical transfers streaming in from across the state.

San Antonio remains under tropical storm warning and flash flood watch and will likely still see 40-50 mph winds and gusts up to 60 mph, the National Weather Service (NWS) predicted Sunday. The city can expect to see three to six inches of rain through at least Wednesday. The most damaging winds are predicted to be east of I-35 and south of I-10. The NWS also warned of “catastrophic main stem river flooding” for areas in the Guadalupe, Colorado, and San Antonio river basins.

“This storm has mind of its own,” Wolff said Sunday. “None of us know for sure what’s going to happen next, so continue to be alert to what may happen here in San Antonio and Bexar County.”

On Saturday night, the City’s Transportation & Capital Improvements (TCI) Department had reported 15 road closures. Most of those have been resolved, Nirenberg said Sunday. TCI continues to advise citizens to “turn around, don’t drown,” adding that “it only takes 6 [inches] of fast-moving water to stall out a vehicle [and] cause it to float.”

Rainfall and flooding remain Harvey’s main threat. The City closed Pinn Road and Commerce Street low water crossings in anticipation of the storm, according to the Ready South Texas app. For low-water crossing closings in Bexar County, check for updates here.

“It was very quiet over night,” San Antonio Fire Department Public Relations Manager Mike “Woody” Woodward told the Rivard Report Saturday morning. “It seemed like people were staying in. [However,] we’re still expecting the flooding here in San Antonio.”

Woodward predicts that the storm will linger over San Antonio, so residents should remain in their homes and off the roads through the weekend if possible.

Residents interested in volunteering at local emergency shelters can dial 3-1-1. Donations for evacuees are being directed to the San Antonio Food Bank, which is accepting food, new clothes, diapers, pet food, and other supplies.

While most power outages reported were resolved by Sunday, wind and rain will continue to intensify as the storm continues to push inland. Updated outage information reported by CPS energy may be found here. Intersection traffic lights may be impacted by the power outages.

Water outages are not expected from the storm, according to San Antonio Water System (SAWS) Communication Manager Anne Hayden. Some areas may experience sewer spills, depending on the amount of incoming rainfall. Infiltration from rain water can cause some sewage to be pushed out of the system.

“The way the rain has gone, it’s probably not going to happen until tomorrow,” Hayden said.

As of Saturday afternoon, San Antonio had received more than 1,100 evacuees from the coastal bend, filling two shelters. A third shelter was open and prepared for additional evacuees.

“I have been proud to watch the immense level of coordination among multiple agencies and community partners as they’ve worked tirelessly to provide up-to-date information to our residents and resources and support to the more than 1,000 evacuees coming from the coastal bend,” Nirenberg said.

Corpus Christi resident Salvador Esparza, who found shelter at Kazen Middle School, personally thanked Nirenberg for the city’s efforts in taking in those displaced by Harvey.

“You have a great staff and great police officers,” he said. “I feel like I’m from San Antonio, I feel like I’m at home.”

“You’re a San Antonian today,” the mayor responded.

Harvey’s high winds and heavy rain may lead to an increased number of animals in need of rescue, so Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation was standing by currently to receive any animals in need of care. To receive assistance regarding displaced or injured animals, call (830) 336-2725.

Organizations Respond:

  • The City is directing concerned citizens to make monetary and material donations for evacuees to the San Antonio Food Bank. There is an increased need for diapers, baby formula/food, blankets and towels.
  • H-E-B has spearheaded disaster relief efforts throughout Texas Gulf Coast communities by donating water to six area food banks and placing generators in more than than 19 stores that sustained power loss. In addition, staff is ready to deploy mobile kitchens, which will provide meals for first responders and residents affected by Hurricane Harvey. All H-E-B and Central Market stores across Texas will launch a statewide campaign offering customers an opportunity to support victims by donating in increments of $1, $3, or $5 at checkout stands to benefit Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.
  • Walmart and the Walmart Foundation have also committed to support relief efforts through cash and product donations of at least $1 million to organizations helping in response to the severe weather impacting Texas and Louisiana.
  • Santikos Entertainment is offering seats for any movie in any Santikos Theater to those fleeing Hurricane Harvey from the Gulf Coast. “All they need to do is show a valid picture ID and then select their seat,” stated a release from Santikos. The offer extends to residents of the following Texas counties: Calhoun, Jackson, San Patricio, Refugio, Matagorda, Brazoria, Victoria, Nueces, Aransas, Wharton and Kleberg.
  • Before Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas Gulf Coast, the Baptist Health Foundation of San Antonio (BHFSA) board voted to award $100,000 split evenly between the Texas Baptist Men and the Salvation Army to aid in disaster relief efforts.

Hanna Oberhofer contributed to this report. 

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Rocío Guenther

Rocío Guenther worked as a bilingual reporter and editorial assistant for the Rivard Report from June 2016 to October 2017. She is originally from Guadalajara, Mexico and holds a bachelor's in English...

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Jeffrey Sullivan

Jeffrey Sullivan is a Rivard Report reporter. He graduated from Trinity University with a degree in Political Science.