[HOT] – Live Briefing: As Storm Stalls, Rescue Work Begins Amid Rain and Rubble

Read more on the storm here.

• Harvey, the hurricane that tore across the Gulf Coast of Texas at 130 m.p.h., was downgraded to a tropical storm Saturday afternoon.

• There were reports of at least two people dead and up to 14 injured as search and rescue operations got under way.

• The storm system is expected to pound the region with torrential rains and catastrophic flooding for days, according to the National Hurricane Center.

• Emergency officials reported heavy building damage, shredded trees and flooded roads. Thousands of customers were without power.

• Follow Times correspondents tracking the storm on Twitter: @mannyNYT in Rockport, Tex., @alanblinder in Victoria, @julieturkewitz and @ckrausss in Houston, @viaSimonRomero in Albuquerque, N.M., and @jswatz in New York.

• Are you in an affected area? If you are safe, and are able to, please share your photos and videos with us.

Rising water is putting boaters in peril.

The Coast Guard has rescued at least 32 people from several boats in Texas waters since the storm began. One video released by the Coast Guard shows a man being pulled to shore as a vessel languishes in the background, its stern submerged. Officials said the four people airlifted from that scene were among 15 who were rescued near Port Aransas, Tex., on Saturday.

Officials warned Texans to “stay off the water.”

“If you’ve evacuated, please stay where you’re at,” Capt. Tony Hahn said at a news conference on Saturday afternoon. Read more »

The forecast for days: Torrential rains.

Forecasters are expecting 15 to 30 inches of rain and isolated amounts as high as 40 inches, said Michael Brennan, the acting chief of the center’s Hurricane Specialist Unit.

The greater Houston area has already gotten more than 5 inches of rain, Dr. Brennan said. Areas in far South Texas, the Texas Hill Country and southwest and central Louisiana could see 5 to 15 inches of rain.

A storm surge warning is in effect from Port Aransas to High Island, Tex., the National Hurricane Center said, which means a dangerous amount of rising water is expected to move inland. Read more »

Beware of flooding, the governor warns.

Gov. Greg Abbott on Saturday said that his primary concern remains “dramatic flooding” in the wake of the storm.

Speaking at a televised news conference in Austin, Governor Abbott said state and other agencies remained active in search and rescue efforts. “We don’t have any information right now that we can confirm” about fatalities, he said.

He warned Texans to be vigilant and to stay away from rising water, noting that it can be far deeper, with swifter currents, than it may appear.

“Turn around, don’t drown. Don’t risk your life,” he said. “The most important thing all Texans can do is to put your life and the protection of your life first and foremost.”

He said agencies were focused on supporting evacuees from Corpus Christi and elsewhere, and on getting supplies, such as food, water and ice, to areas that needed it.

Prisoners were being transported to safety.

About 4,500 inmates at three prison units in Rosharon, Tex., were being bused to other facilities as the nearby Brazos River rose under heavy rain. By noon, the river had swelled by at least 15 feet since Friday, according to the National Weather Service. Read more »

Follow some of the experts.

For all its faults, Twitter has given us all a great way to watch weather events unfold. There’s a tremendous amount of deep expertise in the Twittersphere, delivering stunning satellite images, storm track predictions and, of course, 140 well-chosen characters.

Here are a few people to start with. This list is not in any way exhaustive, but not picked at random, either. Besides official sites like the National Hurricane Center’s feed for the Atlantic basin and NHC scientists like Eric Blake, you can learn a lot from Brian McNoldy at the University of Miami, J. Marshall Shepherd at the University of Georgia and Becky dePodwin (who created a great Harvey Twitter list), as well as the Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang. For Houston weather, it’s hard to do better than Eric Berger and Matt Lanza of Space City Weather. — JOHN SCHWARTZ

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