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Storm Hanna flattens virus-hit Texas coast

Hurricane Hanna’s trail of devastation on the south Texas coast has been marked by overturned semi-trailers, downed powerlines and roofless houses.

The area, already badly hit by COVID-19 infections, is still threatened by flash flooding.

Eventually downgraded to a tropical storm, Hanna came ashore on Padre Island on Saturday afternoon as a Category 1 hurricane and later made a second landfall in Kenedy County, Texas.

Powerful winds smacked down at least three 18-wheeler trucks and a recreational vehicle, with tow trucks trying to right the toppled vehicles on Sunday.

In Port Mansfield, winds flattened sugar cane fields and levelled trees.

Deer roamed streets, stopping to nibble downed branches in the yards of homes, some that had lost their roofs.

At one point more than 283,000 homes and businesses were without electricity but the figure fell to 230,000 by Sunday afternoon, according to poweroutage.us.

But some locals took advantage of the wild weather, with Alejandero Carcano, 16, and Jesse Garewal, 18, both residents of Galveston, surfing the high swells whipped up by Hanna.

Weakening as it headed west over land, Hanna’s centre on Sunday was about 65km from McAllen, Texas, and about 105km from Monterrey, Mexico, the US National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

At 4am local time, the storm’s top sustained winds were around 95km/h, the centre said.

The White House approved an emergency disaster declaration for Texas.

Hanna was forecast to lose more steam as it moved across Texas and northeast Mexico, and on Sunday weather watch officials cancelled the storm surge warning they had issued for the Texas coast.

Hanna still posed a threat, forecasters said, noting it could dump upward of 45cm of rain in isolated areas of southern Texas through Monday.

“This rain will produce life-threatening flash flooding, rapid rises on small streams, and isolated minor to moderate river flooding,” the NHC said.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott said on Saturday the storm was especially challenging as it was sweeping through an area of the state that has been the worst hit by the coronavirus.

Cases along the state’s coast have soared into the tens of thousands.

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