The storm is expected to be the most dangerous since Hurricane Katrina in 2005
Hurricane Harvey: Texas residents urged to flee dangerous storm
People in the southernmost United States have been urged to flee as the country braces itself for Hurricane Harvey, which is due to hit Texas on late Friday or early Saturday.
The storm, which is currently a category two hurricane, could be the most dangerous to hit US mainland for 12 years and is forecast to bring 35 inches (89 centimetres of rain).
Residents in the states of Texas and Louisiana have been told to leave, while several counties in Texas have ordered mandatory evacuation from coastal areas.
"All the advice we can give is get out, and get out now," said Patrick Rios, the mayor of Rockport, Texas where 60% of the town's 9,500 inhabitants are believed to have fled.
Mr Rios told those who refused to leave to “mark their arm with a sharpie pen, put their social security number” so they could be identified by authorities if found dead.
Harvey is expected to be the biggest storm since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which left 2,000 people dead and left many more people displaced.
President Donald Trump has been warned to prepare for the damage that the storm will inflict and not to repeat the actions of former President George W Bush, who was criticised for his response to Katrina.
"Keep on top of hurricane Harvey don't make same mistake Pres Bush made w Katrina," Republican senator Chuck Grassley urged Mr Trump in a tweet.
On Friday afternoon President Trump tweeted: “I have spoken w/ @GovAbbott of Texas and @LouisianaGov Edwards. Closely monitoring #HurricaneHarvey developments & here to assist as needed.”
In Texas, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has prepared emergency supplies while 700 army and air troops have been mobilised.