Hundreds seek shelter in Houston in wake of Tropical Storm Harvey

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CORPUS CHRISTI (AP) -- Following Tropical Storm Harvey, after heavy rains flood parts of Houston, hundreds of people made it to the downtown convention center seeking shelter.

PHOTO: Catastrophic Flooding in Houston Texas from Tropical Storm Harvey, Photo Date: 8/27/17 | Dorian Valenzuela / Twitter

Ken Sandy, shelter manager, said Sunday that his volunteers are prepared for 1,000 people at the George R. Brown Convention Center, and the center is big enough for them to expand if necessary. The center has 1.8 million square feet (0.17 million sq. meters) of space.

Volunteers are handing out towels to people entering the cavernous center. Cots have not yet arrived.

Authorities across Houston and surrounding Harris County are quickly opening shelters as the full toll of the flooding becomes clear and thousands of people evacuate their homes.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says the state has now activated 3,000 National Guard and State Guard members as a result of severe damage and flooding from Hurricane Harvey. Along with the guard, he says 500 vehicles and 14 aircraft have been put into service.

Abbott said there were 250 highway closures around Texas as of Sunday afternoon.

The National Hurricane Center has downgraded Harvey from a Category 1 hurricane to a tropical storm.

But officials say they are still worried about potentially catastrophic rainfall that will continue for days, with more than 40 inches and flash flooding possible even well inland.

Harvey came ashore Friday along the Texas Gulf Coast as a Category 4 storm with 130 mph winds, the most powerful hurricane to hit the U.S. in more than a decade.

Experts say hurricanes almost always lose strength quickly after making landfall and moving away from the warm waters that fuel their winds. But the danger doesn't end there.

Harvey is expected to keep slowing and dumping rain through the middle of next week.

The National Hurricane Center reported at 8 p.m. CDT Friday that the storm's eyewall had begun coming ashore with 130 mph winds.