Hurricane Harvey strengthens to Category 2, mandatory evacuations ordered

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Thousands of people fled Texas early Friday as Hurricane Harvey, a life-threatening Category 2 storm, gained strength and hurtled toward the state.

Homeowners, businesses and government officials were scrambling to prepare for the potentially devastating storm. Forecasters said it could lash the state with significant rain, 125-mph winds and up to 12-foot storm surges and "catastrophic" flooding, according to the National Weather Service.

Counties along the Texas coast ordered thousands of residents to leave, oil workers were fleeing the Gulf of Mexico, and at least one college campus closed. The message from state officials was clear: Get out while you can.

"A lot of people are taking this storm for granted, thinking it may not pose much of a danger to them," Gov. Greg Abbott told NBC affiliate KPRC in Houston. "Please heed warnings and evacuate as soon as possible."

Harvey, driven by warm Gulf of Mexico waters, was expected to make landfall as a Category 3 storm just east of Corpus Christi between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. ET Saturday. Heavy rain and widespread flooding will likely be what makes Harvey historic, said NBC News meteorologist Bill Karins.

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An aerial photo shows damage caused by Hurricane Harvey in Rockport, Texas, U.S., August 31, 2017. Photo taken August 31, 2017. REUTERS/DroneBase TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Houses are seen submerged in flood waters caused by Tropical Storm Harvey in Northwest Houston, Texas, U.S. August 30, 2017. REUTERS/Adrees Latif
David Michaelis holds his 3-year-old grandson Teddy as he wades through flood waters from Tropical Storm Harvey in Orange, Texas, U.S., August 30, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman
A man carries a dog from a rescue boat as it evacuates people from the rising waters of Buffalo Bayou following Hurricane Harvey in a neighborhood west of Houston, Texas, U.S., August 30, 2017. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Residents evacuate neighborhood left flooded by Tropical Storm Harvey in West Houston, Texas, U.S. August 30, 2017. REUTERS/Adrees Latif
People carry their possessions from the rising waters of Buffalo Bayou following Hurricane Harvey in a neighborhood west of Houston, Texas, U.S., August 30, 2017. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
People wait to get into one of the few open grocery stores after Tropical Storm Harvey in Houston, Texas August 30, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
David Gonzalez comforts his wife Kathy after being rescued from their home flooded by Tropical Storm Harvey in Orange, Texas, U.S., August 30, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman
Residents talk as flood waters from Tropical Storm Harvey rise in Orange, Texas, U.S., August 30, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman
A car gets towed while men walk in the flooded waters of Telephone Rd. in Houston Houston, Texas on August 30, 2017. Monster storm Harvey made landfall again Wednesday in Louisiana, evoking painful memories of Hurricane Katrina's deadly strike 12 years ago, as time was running out in Texas to find survivors in the raging floodwaters. / AFP PHOTO / Thomas B. Shea (Photo credit should read THOMAS B. SHEA/AFP/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 30: Friends reunite in the middle of a flooded intersection as water continues to rise in their neighborhood following Hurricane Harvey on August 30, 2017 in Houston, Texas. Harvey, which made landfall north of Corpus Christi August 25, has dumped nearly 50 inches of rain in and around Houston. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Residents wait to be rescued from the flood waters of Tropical Storm Harvey in Beaumont Place, Houston, Texas, U.S., on August 28, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Residents wade through flood waters from Tropical Storm Harvey in Beaumont Place, Houston, Texas, U.S., on August 28, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A woman carries her dog into a collector's vintage military truck to evacuate from flood waters from Hurricane Harvey in Dickinson, Texas August 27, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A rescue helicopter hovers in the background as an elderly woman and her poodle use an air mattress to float above flood waters from Tropical Storm Harvey while waiting to be rescued from Scarsdale Boulevard in Houston, Texas, U.S. August 27, 2017. REUTERS/Adrees Latif TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Interstate highway 45 is submerged from the effects of Hurricane Harvey seen during widespread flooding in Houston, Texas, U.S. August 27, 2017. REUTERS/Richard Carson TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Craig "Cajun" Uggen, 57, nearly floods his truck as Hurricane Harvey comes ashore in Corpus Christi, Texas, U.S. August 25, 2017. Minutes later, high winds blew off the camper carrying all of his belongings. REUTERS/Brian Thevenot TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Traffic lights lie on a street after being knocked down, as Hurricane Harvey approaches in Corpus Christi, Texas, U.S. August 25, 2017. REUTERS/Adrees Latif TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Local residents watch the storm in the dark after a citywide power failure as Hurricane Harvey hit Corpus Christi, Texas on August 25, 2017. Harvey on Friday further intensified into a dangerous category four storm, just hours before it was due to slam into the Texas coast, US meteorologists said. / AFP PHOTO / MARK RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
CORPUS CHRISTI, TX - AUGUST 25: Waves pound the shore from approaching Hurricane Harvey on August 25, 2017 in Corpus Christi, Texas. Hurricane Harvey has intensified into a hurricane and is aiming for the Texas coast with the potential for up to 3 feet of rain and 125 mph winds. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
CORPUS CHRISTI, TX - AUGUST 25: Maria Jaramillo (C) and other guests of the TownPlace Suites hotel wait out Hurricane Harvey on August 25, 2017 in Corpus Christi, Texas. Hurricane Harvey has intensified into a major hurricane and is aiming for the Texas coast with the potential for up to 3 feet of rain and 125 mph winds. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
TEXAS, Aug. 25, 2017 -- An employee holds a sign showing water has sold out in a chained market in Houston, the United States, Aug. 24, 2017. The populations in the southern part of Texas are preparing for significant impacts from Hurricane Harvey as it is expected to make landfall as a Category 3 Hurricane from the Gulf of Mexico on Friday. (Xinhua/Liu Liwei via Getty Images)
Bottles of water and other drinks sit in a nearly emptied shelf at a Kroger Co. grocery store in Houston, Texas, U.S., on Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017. Hurricane Harvey, set to make landfall on the center of the Texas coast late Friday, is expected to hit a refinery-rich stretch of the Gulf Coast and U.S. drivers could soon see the impact at the gas pump. Photographer: F. Carter Smith/Bloomberg via Getty Images
CORPUS CHRISTI, TX - AUGUST 25: A sign blows in the wind after being partially torn from its frame by winds from Hurricane Harvey on August 25, 2017 in Corpus Christi, Texas. Hurricane Harvey has intensified into a major hurricane and is aiming for the Texas coast with the potential for up to 3 feet of rain and 125 mph winds. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
A man takes a selfie photograph on seawall by the Gulf of Mexico ahead of Hurricane Harvey in Galveston, Texas, U.S., on Friday, Aug. 25, 2017. Hurricane Harvey�strengthened as it headed toward landfall in Texas, forecast to become the worst storm to strike the region in more than a decade. The price of gasoline�rallied�as it threatened to wreak havoc on the heart of America's energy sector. Photographer: F. Carter Smith/Bloomberg via Getty Images
CORPUS CHRISTI, TX - AUGUST 25: Fabian Fernando his daughter, Azalee Fernandez, Rosalind Gonzalez and Roland Gonzalez (L-R) wait out Hurricane Harvey at the TownePlace Suites hotel which they felt was safer than their homes on August 25, 2017 in Corpus Christi, Texas. Hurricane Harvey has intensified into a major hurricane and is aiming for the Texas coast with the potential for up to 3 feet of rain and 125 mph winds. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
CORPUS CHRISTI, TX - AUGUST 25: A road sign warns travelers of the the approaching Hurricane Harvey on August 25, 2017 in Corpus Christi, Texas. Hurricane Harvey has intensified into a hurricane and is aiming for the Texas coast with the potential for up to 3 feet of rain and 125 mph winds. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
CORPUS CHRISTI, TX - AUGUST 25: Lilyann Lewis packs pinky into the vehicle as her family packs up and evacuates their home before the approaching Hurricane Harvey on August 25, 2017 in Corpus Christi, Texas. Hurricane Harvey has intensified into a hurricane and is aiming for the Texas coast with the potential for up to 3 feet of rain and 125 mph winds. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
A hurricane warning sign is seen under storm clouds, above a highway approaching Victoria, Texas, U.S. August 25, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
CORPUS CHRISTI, TX - AUGUST 25: Cody Munds, Lee Martin and John Pezzi (L-R) fill sandbags as people prepare for approaching Hurricane Harvey on August 25, 2017 in Corpus Christi, Texas. Hurricane Harvey has intensified into a hurricane and is aiming for the Texas coast with the potential for up to 3 feet of rain and 125 mph winds. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Bottles of water and other drinks sit in a nearly emptied shelf at a Kroger Co. grocery store in Houston, Texas, U.S., on Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017. Hurricane Harvey, set to make landfall on the center of the Texas coast late Friday, is expected to hit a refinery-rich stretch of the Gulf Coast and U.S. drivers could soon see the impact at the gas pump. Photographer: F. Carter Smith/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Hurricane Harvey is seen in the Texas Gulf Coast, U.S., in this NOAA GOES satellite image on August 24, 2017. NOAA/Handout via Reuters THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS.
Tropical Storm Harvey is seen approaching the Texas Gulf Coast, U.S., in this NOAA GOES East satellite image taken at 10:07 ET (14:07 GMT) August 24, 2017. NOAA/Handout via Reuters THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A vehicle passes a hurricane warning sign under storm clouds as it heads south approaching Victoria, Texas, U.S. August 25, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Tropical Storm Harvey is seen approaching the Texas Gulf Coast, U.S., in this NOAA GOES East satellite image taken at 10:07 ET (14:07 GMT) August 24, 2017. NOAA/Handout via Reuters THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS.
CORPUS CHRISTI, TX - AUGUST 25: Raul Barral and Carlos Guerra (L-R) walk through high wind and driving rain together before the arrival of Hurricane Harvey on August 25, 2017 in Corpus Christi, Texas. Hurricane Harvey has intensified into a hurricane and is aiming for the Texas coast with the potential for up to 3 feet of rain and 125 mph winds. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
The US flag lies tangled in power lines as strong winds from Hurricane Harvey hits Corpus Christi, Texas on August 25, 2017. Harvey on Friday further intensified into a dangerous category four storm, just hours before it was due to slam into the Texas coast, US meteorologists said. / AFP PHOTO / MARK RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
CORPUS CHRISTI, TX - AUGUST 25: Amy Currin watches the weather news on her cell phone after the power went out at the TownePlace Suites hotel where she was taking shelter from Hurricane Harvey at a place she felt was safer than her home on August 25, 2017 in Corpus Christi, Texas. Hurricane Harvey has intensified into a hurricane and is aiming for the Texas coast with the potential for up to 3 feet of rain and 125 mph winds. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Some of the 35 T-45 jets arrive at Naval Air Station Fort Worth in Fort Worth, Texas on Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017. Thirty-five Navy and Marines T-45s arrived at Naval Air Station Fort Worth from Kingsville as part of an evacuation in advance of Hurricane Harvey. (Max Faulkner/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/TNS via Getty Images)
A windblown seagull looks for food before the approaching Hurricane Harvey hits Corpus Christi, Texas on August 25, 2017. Hurricane Harvey will soon hit the Texas coast with forecasters saying it's possible for up to 3 feet of rain and 125 mph winds. / AFP PHOTO / MARK RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
CORPUS CHRISTI, TX - AUGUST 25: An oil refinery is seen before the arrival of Hurricane Harvey on August 25, 2017 in Corpus Christi, Texas. As Hurricane Harvey comes ashore many of the countries oil refineries are in its path and have had to shut down. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Stewart Adams, of San Marcos, Texas, plays in the winds from Hurricane Harvey in Corpus Christi, Texas, U.S. August 25, 2017. REUTERS/Adrees Latif
A group of people race across the street as winds from Hurricane Harvey escalated in Corpus Christi, Texas, U.S. August 25, 2017. REUTERS/Adrees Latif
Street signs lie on the ground after winds from Hurricane Harvey escalated in Corpus Christi, Texas, U.S. August 25, 2017. REUTERS/Adrees Latif
CORPUS CHRISTI, TX - AUGUST 26: A street light is knocked off it's base by the winds of Hurricane Harvey on August 26, 2017 in Corpus Christi, Texas. Hurricane Harvey had intensified into a hurricane and hit the Texas coast as damage is being assessed. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
PORT LAVACA, TX - AUGUST 25: Waves crash against the coast as Hurricane Harvey intensifies in the Gulf of Mexico in Port Lavaca, TX on Friday, Aug 25, 2017. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Strong winds batter seaside houses before the approaching Hurricane Harvey in Corpus Christi, Texas on August 25, 2017. Hurricane Harvey will soon hit the Texas coast with forecasters saying it's possible for up to 3 feet of rain and 125 mph winds. / AFP PHOTO / MARK RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
Strong winds batter seaside houses before the approaching Hurricane Harvey in Corpus Christi, Texas on August 25, 2017. Hurricane Harvey will soon hit the Texas coast with forecasters saying it's possible for up to 3 feet of rain and 125 mph winds. / AFP PHOTO / MARK RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
Strong winds batter a house on Padre Island before the approaching Hurricane Harvey in Corpus Christi, Texas on August 25, 2017. Hurricane Harvey will soon hit the Texas coast with forecasters saying it is possible expect up to 3 feet of rain and 125 mph winds. / AFP PHOTO / MARK RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
Residents board up the windows of a home ahead of Hurricane Harvey in Jamaica Beach, Texas, U.S., on Friday, Aug. 25, 2017. Hurricane Harvey�strengthened as it headed toward landfall in Texas, forecast to become the worst storm to strike the region in more than a decade. The price of gasoline�rallied�as it threatened to wreak havoc on the heart of America's energy sector. Photographer: F. Carter Smith/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A family stands outside their home the morning after their neighborhood was hit by Hurricane Harvey in Rockport, Texas, U.S. August 26, 2017. REUTERS/Adrees Latif
A man assesses damage to the First Baptist Church after it was hit by Hurricane Harvey in Rockport, Texas, U.S. August 26, 2017. REUTERS/Adrees Latif
Business owner and resident Carlos Lopez clears debris from outside his shop which was hit by Hurricane Harvey in Rockport, Texas, U.S. August 26, 2017. REUTERS/Adrees Latif
A McDonald's sign damaged by Hurricane Harvey is seen in Port Lavaca, Texas August 26, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
A collapsed overhead gantry lies across Interstate 37, blocking the highway due to damage caused by Hurricane Harvey in Corpus Christie, Texas, U.S., August 26, 2017. REUTERS/Mohammad Khursheed?
A destoyed trailor at an RV Park after heavy damage when Hurricane Harvey hit Rockport, Texas on August 26, 2017. Hurricane Harvey left a trail of devastation Saturday after the most powerful storm to hit the US mainland in over a decade slammed into Texas, destroying homes, severing power supplies and forcing tens of thousands of residents to flee. / AFP PHOTO / MARK RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
A police officer checks for survivors amongst destroyed houses after heavy damage when Hurricane Harvey hit Rockport, Texas on August 26, 2017. Hurricane Harvey left a trail of devastation Saturday after the most powerful storm to hit the US mainland in over a decade slammed into Texas, destroying homes, severing power supplies and forcing tens of thousands of residents to flee. / AFP PHOTO / MARK RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
A destroyed buildingand vehicles at Rockport Airport after heavy damage when Hurricane Harvey hit Rockport, Texas on August 26, 2017. Hurricane Harvey left a trail of devastation Saturday after the most powerful storm to hit the US mainland in over a decade slammed into Texas, destroying homes, severing power supplies and forcing tens of thousands of residents to flee. / AFP PHOTO / MARK RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
ROCKPORT, TX - AUGUST 26: Lee Guerrero tries to kick open a door of an apartment after hearing his friends say they were hiding in the shower stall and were okay after Hurricane Harvey destroyed the apartment on August 26, 2017 in Rockport, Texas. Harvey made landfall shortly after 11 p.m. Friday, just north of Port Aransas as a Category 4 storm and is being reported as the strongest hurricane to hit the United States since Wilma in 2005. Forecasts call for as much as 30 inches of rain to fall in the next few days. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
ROCKPORT, TX - AUGUST 26: Valerie Brown walks through a flooded area after leaving the apartment that she road out Hurricane Harvey in on August 26, 2017 in Rockport, Texas. Harvey made landfall shortly after 11 p.m. Friday, just north of Port Aransas as a Category 4 storm and is being reported as the strongest hurricane to hit the United States since Wilma in 2005. Forecasts call for as much as 30 inches of rain to fall in the next few days. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
A Texas and US flag are seen as rain from Hurricane Henry falls on August 26, 2017 in Texas City, Texas. Hurricane Harvey slammed into the Texas coast late Friday, unleashing torrents of rain and packing powerful winds, the first major storm to hit the US mainland in 12 years. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
ROCKPORT, TX - AUGUST 26: A damaged building is seen after Hurricane Harvey passed through on August 26, 2017 in Rockport, Texas. Harvey made landfall shortly after 11 p.m. Friday, just north of Port Aransas as a Category 4 storm and is being reported as the strongest hurricane to hit the United States since Wilma in 2005. Forecasts call for as much as 30 inches of rain to fall in the next few days. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
ROCKPORT, TX - AUGUST 26: Terry Smith stands in the apartment that had its ceiling collapse when Hurricane Harvey hit on August 26, 2017 in Rockport, Texas. Ms. Smith said she has never been as terrified in her life as when the winds started roaring through town. Harvey made landfall shortly after 11 p.m. Friday, just north of Port Aransas as a Category 4 storm and is being reported as the strongest hurricane to hit the United States since Wilma in 2005. Forecasts call for as much as 30 inches of rain to fall by next Wednesday. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
ROCKPORT, TX - AUGUST 26: A Rockport firefighter goes door to door on a search and rescue mission as he looks for people that may need help after Hurricane Harvey passed through on August 26, 2017 in Rockport, Texas. Harvey made landfall shortly after 11 p.m. Friday, just north of Port Aransas as a Category 4 storm and is being reported as the strongest hurricane to hit the United States since Wilma in 2005. Forecasts call for as much as 30 inches of rain to fall in the next few days. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
A fireman walks by a burnt out car that caught fire after Hurricane Harvey hit Corpus Christi, Texas is seen on August 26, 2017. Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas coast with forecasters saying its possible for up to 3 feet of rain and 125 mph winds. / AFP PHOTO / MARK RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
A helicopter hovers above the Houston skyline as sunlight breaks through storm clouds from Tropical Storm Harvey in Texas, U.S. August 29, 2017. REUTERS/Adrees Latif TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A military helicopter and personnel rescue a stranded resident from floods caused by Tropical Storm Harvey in east Houston, Texas, U.S. August 29, 2017. REUTERS/Adrees Latif TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A tattered U.S. flag damaged in Hurricane Harvey, flies in Conroe, Texas, U.S., August 29, 2017. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Ethan holds his 2-year-old daughter Zella as they walk through flood waters from Tropical Storm Harvey in Iowa, Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana, U.S., on August 29, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Nancy McBride is carried out of her flooded home by volunteer Cody Collinsworth, after returning home for the first time since Harvey floodwaters arrived in Houston, Texas September 1, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
People line up at a Walmart store that reopened Friday after Tropical Storm Harvey in Port Arthur, Texas, U.S., September 1, 2017. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Rescue personnel help Hersey Kirk into a restraint as a rescue helicopter hovers in the distance after she was rescued from her home flooded by Tropical Storm Harvey in Rose City, Texas, U.S. on August 31, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Kent Kirk is lifted into a helicopter after being rescued from his home flooded by Tropical Storm Harvey in Rose City, Texas, U.S. on August 31, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Evacuees who were rescued from the flood waters of Tropical Storm Harvey wait to board school buses bound for Louisiana in Vidor, Texas, U.S., on August 31, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Submerged houses are seen by flood waters from Tropical Storm Harvey in Rose City, Texas, U.S., on August 31, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
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"It's hard to imagine just how horrific and destructive this amount of water will be but it goes without saying that anyone who has decided to stay in a low-lying area is risking their lives," said Karins.

Related: Gas Prices Rise as Hurricane Harvey Catches Oil Companies by Surprise

The last Category 2 storm to hit Texas was Hurricane Ike in 2008. The last Category 3 storm to pummel the U.S. was Hurricane Wilma, which struck Florida in 2005.

The National Hurricane Center warned Harvey was "dangerously approaching" the Texas coast early Friday, picking up more power and packing maximum sustained winds of 110 mph — close to the Category 3 threshold (sustained winds of 111 mph to 129 mph), according to the National Hurricane Center.

The agency added that "life-threatening and devastating flooding" was expected and that "Harvey is expected to become a major hurricane before it reaches" the Texas coast.

Corpus Christi was a veritable ghost town on Friday afternoon, with dozens of homes and storefronts boarded up. The city's mayor, Joe McComb, has urged residents to leave town — before it is too late.

"We are going to, in the strongest possible terms, encourage residents in the low-lying areas, as they say, to get out of Dodge," McComb said at a news conference Thursday.

Thousands of Texans appeared to follow that advice on Friday morning — but many others planned on hunkering down this weekend.

Gina McGinnis, 60, who works at the Schlotzsky's sandwich chain, said she was going to "ride out the storm."

"I'm ready. I just gotta go get other people ready," McGinnis told NBC News. "It's just T.C.O.B. — taking care of business.

"I have faith in God. If he decides it's my time to go," she said, "I'm ready. I'm ready to go no matter what."

Aaron Castro, 28, another Schlotzsky's employee, said there were "a lot of people sticking around."

"Some people just can't go out," Castro said. "They don't have no money to go out."

Related: Gas Prices Rise as Hurricane Harvey Catches Oil Companies by Surprise

A national security adviser said President Donald Trump had been briefed on the hurricane's progress and preparations for its landing. Trump tweeted on Friday that he had spoken with Abbott and Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards and was "closely monitoring" the situation. 

Abbott on Wednesday declared a state of disaster in 30 counties. Mandatory evacuations were ordered in Texas for the cities of Aransas Pass and Portland and the counties of San Patricio and Brazoria. Authorities in Cameron Parish, Louisiana, meanwhile, ordered mandatory evacuations for areas south of the Intracoastal Water Way effective at 6 a.m. local time.

Abbott ordered the Texas State Operations Center to elevate its readiness level and made state resources available for preparation and rescue and recovery efforts.

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