Beryl kills at least 4 in Texas as more than 2M remain without power: Live updates (2024)

Doyle Rice,Thao Nguyen,Cheryl McCloud,Christopher Cann,Cybele Mayes-Osterman,Jorge L. Ortiz,Michael LoriaUSA TODAY

Tropical Storm Beryl unleashed a barrage of severe weather to southeast Texas on Monday, killing at least four people, flooding highways,closing oil ports, canceling more than 1,300 flights and knocking out power to more than 2.7 million homes and businesses.

According to the National Hurricane Center, Beryl, the season's earliest Category 5 hurricane on record, weakened from a hurricane after pounding the coastal Texas town of Matagorda, a coastal community between Corpus Christi and Galveston. It had sustained winds of more than 80 mph as it made landfall at 4 a.m. CT.

The agency said current conditions could spawn tornadoes in Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas. By 7 p.m. CT, the weather service office in Shreveport, Louisiana, reported it had issued over 50 tornado warnings. The office had also stacked up a list of a half-dozen possible tornadoes.

Houston Mayor John Whitmire said most of the city was experiencing flood waters of more than 10 inches. "We're literally getting calls across Houston right now asking for first responders to come rescue individuals in desperate life safety conditions," he said Monday.

In a suburban part of Harris County, just northeast of Houston, a man was killed when a tree fell on his home and trapped him under debris, according to Sheriff Ed Gonzalez. In northern Harris County, a tree fell onto a house and killed a 74-year-old woman, Gonzalez said on social media.

At least two more people died: A Houston Police Department civilian employee got caught in flood waters driving to work; in southeast Houston, a man was killed in a fire believed to have been started by lightning, Whitmire said at a news conference Monday evening.

Last week, Beryl carved a path of destruction across the Caribbean — leaving at least 11 people dead and destroying or severely damaging infrastructure on several islands. Beryl, which at one point strengthened into the earliest Category 5 hurricane on record, last made landfall on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula Friday morning.

Developments:

∎ Officials in Fort Bend County outside of Houston evacuated the residents of an apartment building badly hit by the storm to local fairgrounds, the county’s Emergency Management Agency announced Monday evening.

∎ Beryl’s maximum sustained winds fell to around 35 mph by 7 p.m. local time. The tropical depression is expected to weaken into a post-tropical cyclone on Tuesday, according to a National Weather Service advisory. It is expected to move through the Lower Mississippi Valley and into the Ohio Valley on Tuesday and Wednesday.

∎ More than 2.7 million homes and businesses in Texaslost power, according to Patrick and PowerOutage.us. Several counties in southeastern Texas — including Houston, where many U.S. energy companies are headquartered — are under a flash-flood warning as thunderstorms unleashed up to nearly 12 inches of rain in some areas.

∎ Closures of majoroil-shipping portsaround Corpus Christi, Galveston, and Houston ahead of the storm could disrupt crude oil exports and shipments of crude to refineries and motor fuel from the plants. The Corpus Christi Ship Channel has re-opened, while the Port of Houston was projected to resume operations on Tuesday afternoon.

∎ At least two locations on the west side of Houston experienced major flooding Monday, according to the National Water Prediction Service. They included the White Oak Bayou, where the water rose more than 25 feet, and the Buffalo Bayou, where the water rose 24 feet, both within about 9 hours.

∎ Across eastern Texas, heavy rain and flooding triggered water rescues as people became trapped in their homes and vehicles.

More flooding expected in Houston

As Beryl drenched the region north of Houston, officials urged residents to stay off the roads.

“Don’t let the clear skies fool you,” Whitmire said. “We still have dangerous circ*mstances, we still have high water.”

Russell Richardson, a Houston Police Department information security officer, died after getting caught in floodwaters on his way to work Monday morning, the police shared on social media. He was 54.

Brent Taylor, chief communications officer for the city’s Office of Emergency Management, said rain falling north of the city went through Houston’s bayou system, a network of creeks that can easily overflow.

“The flooding isn’t over,” he said. “We anticipate the cresting will happen later as the water moves down to the Gulf of Mexico.”

Additional flooding plus the impact of the power outage on city traffic lights will continue to make driving dangerous, he said.

Beryl produces tornadoes

The Storm Prediction Center documented nearly a dozen tornado reports produced by Beryl as it moved north from Texas into Louisiana and Arkansas. Local National Weather Service officials issued over 60 tornado warnings.

A condo building in Jasper County, Texas, took a direct hit from a tornado Monday morning, local emergency management officials told the National Weather Service; a twister in Timpson, Texas, 25 miles from the Lousiana border, tore the roof off of City Hall.

Most of the tornadoes were reported in Texas and Louisiana, with an additional report in Arkansas. Nearly all of Southern Arkansas and Western Louisiana were under tornadoe watch, according to the weather service.

Hurricane Beryl's strength caught people off guard

Hal Needham, an extreme weather scientist widely known to other locals in Galveston, Texas, as "Hurricane Hal", was up just after 4 a.m. Monday to monitor the storm and livestream updates.

"We've had some pretty big squalls today with widespread power outages," he said. "I think the storm was a lot stronger than a lot of people expected."

Needham also was concerned that continuing power outages would leave residents vulnerable to high-80s heat and high humidity. "This is the hottest time of the year," he said. "If people still don't have power, there could really be some issues with heat exhaustion, with heat-related illnesses, especially for elderly people with health conditions."

Although people from the area are hurricane-savvy, this storm hit earlier than most, catching them off guard, Needham said. "Only 3% of major hurricanes usually happen in June or July," he said. "Typically, Texas does not get a lot of July and June hurricane landfalls."

"I think people were really surprised by how hard and how quickly this hit," he added.

High heat index, no A/C will make for harsh early recovery

The early part of the recovery from Beryl's ravages will be an arduous, sweaty task made a lot more uncomfortable by the power outages affecting millions of Texans amid the summer heat.

The National Weather Service office in Houston issued a heat advisory for Tuesday in southeast Texas, where a heat index of 105 Fahrenheit is expected.

"While this would normally be below criteria (for the advisory), the widespread loss of power and A/C will make for dangerous conditions,'' the Houston office said. "Those working outside may not have a chance to properly cool off!''

The heat index combines air temperature with relative humidity to provide a measure of what the temperature actually feels like to people. The thermometer is expected to rise to 93 degrees in Houston on Tuesday and Wednesday, and which along with relative humidity of close to 80 may send the heat index past the 110 mark.

The Houston office warned about the possibility of heat-related illnesses and advised residents to limit outdoor activities, drink lots of water, wear light clothing, and try to work during cooler times of the day.

What now? Where are Beryl's remnants headed next? Flooding rain; tornadoes possible

Galveston resident says first hurricane will be her last

Alanna Carter endured her first hurricane Monday night when Beryl passed over her home in Galveston. "I don't want to go through that ever again," the 44-year-old bartender said hours after the storm passed through the area.

"If that was only a Cat 1, I can only imagine what Ike was like and that was a Cat 4," she said of Hurricane Ike, which struck Texas in 2008, before Carter's arrival.

Carter said Beryl lashed her house with fierce wind and rain. "It literally shook the entire house," she said, adding the neighborhood was dark after losing power. She doesn't expect it back for days.

Though her house wasn't severely damaged, Carter said a neighbor lost a window and the area was covered with debris left behind by Beryl, including fallen trees, shingles, plastic and trash. The next time a hurricane heads for Galveston, Carter doesn't plan to stick around.

"This is not my jam,'' she said. "I mean, I was nauseous because my anxiety was so high."

Beryl knocks out power for over 2 million people in Texas

More than 2.1 million customers were out of power in eastern Texas, according to the power company CenterPoint Energy. It’s unclear how many of those customers were in Houston. On its website, CenterPoint Energy said the service was disrupted by 5,993 active outages.

According to PowerOutage.us, an outage tracker, more than 2.7 million homes and businesses across Texas were without power.

Storm does heavy damage in last 30 minutes

Richard Reyes thought the worst of the storm had passed him and his family by. Then their house in northeast Houston started flooding with up to a foot of water, the power went out and a huge tree toppled in front of their place.

“All of this happened in the last 30 minutes of the storm,'' said Reyes, 73, a retired actor and arts advocate who as his Santa-like alter ego, “Pancho Claus,” distributes thousands of toys annually to mostly Latino kids in the Houston area.

Reyes, who saw similar damage during Hurricane Harvey in 2017 when he lived elsewhere in Houston, said the floodwaters moved in even after the rain stopped. He said his son didn't trust the tall tree would stay upright and moved the family cars just before it fell into the street where the vehicles had been, somehow avoiding pulling multiple power lines down along the way.

Reyes said his son and neighbors were out Monday morning cutting through the tree to clear the way so vehicles could pass. In the meantime, they’re hoping FEMA will cover some of the damage.

“Luckily, everyone is safe,” he said.

− Marc Ramirez

Living next to a seawall, 'our whole building was shaking'

Tom Sheppard, 59, was jolted awake at 3:30 Monday morning by the storm raging through Galveston. "It was a lot worse than we thought," he said, pointing out he lives next to the seawall. "Our whole building was shaking."

The winds ripped down the wrought iron fence around his gated community, bringing down gutters and part of a wall.

Venturing out after the storm passed, Sheppard saw the destruction was widespread. "All the palm trees are snapped in half," he said. "All the power poles are down. It's flooded. It got pretty bad."

In Galveston, a fish swimming on a flooded street

Jacob Jonathan, 21, awoke Monday to harsh winds banging on the window of his Galveston home, which he found "a little stressful.''

Jonathan said his street was flooded with nearly a foot of water. At one point, he looked out his window to see a fish jump. Debris littered the neighborhood, and a fence was knocked down by the wind, he said.

By midday, Jonathan was still out of power, and said some friends in Galveston also were without water. "We're mainly worried about our food going bad in the fridge," he said.

Jonathan spent the morning at home after the auto repair shop where he works delayed opening until the afternoon because of the storm, and he was waiting to see when conditions improved.

"Our house is lifted and we don't have any leaking," he added. "The only nuisance right now is we had to pick up after our animals because they can't really walk in the water."

Hurricane Beryl 'has been rough'

Donna Radin said she was startled awake by the “very strong howl” of wind rattling her home as rain came down in sheets early Monday morning.

The 58-year-old travel agent lives in Deer Park, a small city east of Houston. Around 5 a.m., as the conditions worsened, she heard a generator blow just down the block, and soon her home lost power.

Huddled inside with her daughter, two granddaughters and five dogs, Radin said she's avoided the windows but can see lots of downed trees and the remnants of a fence that was ripped out of the ground and hurled several yards away.

"It's the most intense Cat 1 I've ever been through," said Radin, who has lived on the Texas Gulf Coast all her life. "I told my husband, 'Our next investment will be remote-controlled hurricane shutters,' because this has been rough."

More: Hurricane Beryl tracker: Storm makes landfall in Texas, see spaghetti models, path

Beryl causes over 1,000 flight cancellations in Houston

More than 1,000 flights across airports in Houston were canceled Monday as Beryl bore down on the city.

At George Bush Intercontinental Airport, over 1,000 arriving and departing flights were canceled, according to FightAware. The smaller William P. Hobby Airport had over 300 cancellations, FlightAware said.

Houston is a major hub for United Airlines, which is enduring the worst of the operational impacts from the storm. About 14% of United’s flights, around 400 departures, have been canceled Monday.

Texas power outage map

Beryl brings flooding, prompting water rescues

Across eastern Texas, officials in multiple counties said first responders were rescuing people trapped in their cars and homes amid Hurricane Beryl's deluge.

Gonzalez, the Harris County sheriff, asked drivers to "please stay off the roadways" as heavy rain drenched Houston and its surrounding areas.

The police department in Rosenberg, just southwest of Houston, said it was conducting water rescues and warned residents about falling trees and ongoing flooding.

'We need help': Honeymoon now a 'prison nightmare,' after Hurricane Beryl strands couple in Jamaica

"Street flooding, downed trees, power outages and water rescues. All of that is happening right now in Rosenberg. Please stay off of the roads,'' the Rosenberg Police Department said on X. "A downed tree even fell (on) one of our high water rescue vehicles coming back from a rescue."

In Fort Bend County, southwest of Houston, officials in a statement on X asked residents to, "Please stay home until the storm passes." The statement from the county said, "trees and debris are all over the roads, several roads flooded and most signals are out." It added that deputies were responding to "stranded/flooded motorists."

It's hurricane season. See which previous storms passed near your neighborhood

Hurricane Beryl hits records amid projected busy hurricane season

On July 1, Beryl made landfall in Grenada's Carriacou Island as a Category 4 hurricane and tore through the southern Caribbean Islands, flattening hundreds of buildings.

Later that night, Beryl became the earliest Category 5 hurricane on record. Driven by record-high ocean temperatures, Beryl's rapid strengthening stunned experts. Beryl was also the earliest Category 4 hurricane on record and is the first June major hurricane east of the Lesser Antilles on record.

Federal forecasters have predicteda hurricane season unlike any other, with as many as 25 named storms possible. It is the most storms the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has ever predicted in a preseason outlook.

Contributing: Jorge L. Ortiz and Dinah Voyles Pulver, USA TODAY; Reuters

Beryl kills at least 4 in Texas as more than 2M remain without power: Live updates (2024)
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