WASHINGTON - Hurricane Dolly is now a Category 1 storm as winds lessened to 95 miles per hour Wednesday afternoon. Despite losing strength, the hurricane continued to bear down on the Gulf Coast, bringing heavy rain and wind to Texas.
Officials Take No Chances
Dolly is forecast to weaken to a tropical storm by Thursday as it makes its way inland, according to forecasters.
But with steady high wind speeds, Dolly forced officials to close South Padre Island and left tourists trying to leave across the bridge in bumper to bumper traffic.
"It cuts our vacation plans short, but it's kind of neat to experience it," said one tourist.
In the hours leading up to Dolly's arrival, residents stocked up on what they needed to survive.
Still a relatively low-grade storm, Dolly is expected to tear off roofs, blow out windows, and cause considerable damage to trees and mobile homes.
Not wanting to chance it, officials at the University of Texas A&M Corpus Christi decided to cancel classes.
"Two days is a lot to lose, especially when you have exams and everything so we'll see how it goes," said one university official.
Red Cross workers from across the state are heading out armed with clothes, food and aid.
"We anticipate a lot of flooding. Once we know exactly what the situation is, where Dolly's coming ashore and what they're going to need," Elaine Acker of the American Red Cross of Central Texas said.
Dolly is the second hurricane of the season and is forecast to bring torrential rains up to 15-inches.
Officials worry the levees at the Rio Grande River will give way to massive flooding.
In Mexico, the government has evacuated 23,000 people to safety in shelters.
And in Texas, although there is no mandatory evacuation, some people have already taken cover at emergency shelters.
Texas Governor Rick Perry already declared more than a dozen counties disaster areas just in case an evacuation becomes necessary.
He has also ordered hundreds of buses to be ready to help move stranded residents and he's activated 12,000 National Guard troops.
Capt. Adam Collett of the Texas National Guard said, "One of the possible missions that we could have is supporting Texas Task Force One in the event that there's a need to conduct any search and rescue operations."