Ahead of Hurricane Harvey, Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX) declared a state of emergency, and on Friday at around 10 p.m. CT, the storm made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane, bringing with it life-threatening flooding and devastation.
Fox News reported that the governor said the Corpus Christi area received 20 inches of rain and another 20 to 30 inches were expected in other parts of the state. In addition, 13,000 military members were activated to provide aid to the state's citizens.
On Saturday, the storm — reminiscent of 2005's Hurricane Katrina — continued to ravage Texas, and although it was downgraded to a tropical storm, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price declared a public health emergency.
“HHS is taking the necessary measures and has mobilized the resources to provide immediate assistance to those affected by Hurricane Harvey,” Price said in a statement. “We recognize the gravity of the situation in Texas, and the declaration of a public health emergency will provide additional flexibility and authority to help those who have been impacted by the storm.”
Price's declaration gives HHS centers and health care providers more flexibility in providing emergency health needs — including waiving various documentation requirements so facilities who don't have proof of a person's status as a Medicare beneficiary can still deliver care. This measure was deemed necessary after many people had been brought to hospitals for care that had no records of their benefits.
While the actions under the declaration technically become effective at noon Monday, the statement detailed that they will have a retroactive effect dating back to Friday.
According to CNBC News, one death was reported and over 300,000 people have been left without electricity in the storm's wake.