(NBC NEWS) CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Thousands of people fled parts of coastal Texas on 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 what could be a devastating storm. Forecasters said it has the potential to batter the state with significant rain, 125-mph winds, 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.

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