Hurricane Dolly was downgraded to a tropical storm on Wednesday after it tore into Texas with 160kph winds and left 250,000 people without drinking water across the border in Mexico.
The storm made landfall at South Padre Island, Texas, at midday as a Category 2 hurricane, the National Hurricane Center said.
The resort island was practically submerged under the storm surge.
But Dolly lost some punch as it interacted with the cooler landmass after leaving the Gulf of Mexico. It was to continue weakening as it moves further inland at about 11kph, the NHC reported.
By 0600 GMT yesterday, Dolly’s sustained winds fell to 95kph as it lumbered to the northwest 120km from the Texas border town of Brownsville.
The “slow-moving Dolly [was] dumping torrential rains on south Texas,” the NHC said, adding that Dolly is expected to continue weakening as it moves farther inland.
As pounding rain and strong winds battered the US-Mexico coast, authorities worried whether levees could sustain the floodwaters.
Bracing for as much as 400mm of rain, residents boarded up windows and piled up sandbags and thousands fled for safer ground.
In Matamoros, Mexico, 60km south of South Padre Island, Dolly’s winds damaged the city’s main water treatment plant, leaving half of the 500,000 inhabitants without drinking water, while heavy rain triggered extensive flooding, local officials said.
Texas Governor Rick Perry issued disaster declarations in 14 counties across the southern portion of the state, and hundreds of National Guard troops and other emergency crews were deployed in advance of the storm.