Beryl blows into Houston: Hurricane makes landfall as Category 1; three deaths reported

Two people died due to trees falling on homes while a third died while driving to their job at Houston PD. CenterPoint has yet to announce a timeline for restoring power to 2.2 million customers.

By Sarah Grunau & Adam Zuvanich, Houston Public MediaJuly 8, 2024 8:14 am, ,

From Houston Public Media:

Beryl brought heavy rain and strong winds to the Houston area Monday morning while causing widespread power outages and at least three deaths, according to local officials.

The storm made landfall near Matagorda around 4 a.m. Monday as a Category 1 hurricane, according to the National Weather Service, bringing 80-mile-per-hour, hurricane-force winds to portions of the Texas coast. It was downgraded to a tropical storm shortly after 10 a.m., when it was moving north through the Houston region.

Beryl’s rain and winds had largely left the metro area by mid-afternoon, although many bayous and roadways were flooded and more than 2.2 million homes and businesses in the Houston area were still without electricity, CenterPoint Energy’s online outage tracker showed. And at least two people had died as a result of fallen trees.

“The rains are pretty much ending from south to north,” Eric Berger, a meteorologist with Space City Weather, said at about 2 p.m. Monday. “We’re going to see pretty significant improvement in these creeks and bayous over the next several hours. … There should be considerable improvement today and into this evening.”

As local officials assessed the damage and began recovery efforts Monday afternoon, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said power outages, flooding and roadway conditions were the most significant issues. She said CenterPoint is expected to provide restoration estimates on Tuesday, when the county also plans to open shelters for impacted residents.

In the meantime, Hidalgo encouraged those in the Houston area to stay close to home through Monday night.

“Stay where you are unless you really need to go out,” she said Monday afternoon. “There are lots of hazards out there. There’s debris. There’s water. Sometimes you won’t know until you turn that there’s high water you can’t back away from.”

A tree fell on a home in Humble on Monday morning, killing a 53-year-old man inside, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office reported. The man was reportedly “sitting in house with family, riding out the storm. An oak tree fell on roof and hit rafters, structure fell on the male. Wife and children unharmed,” Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez wrote on X.

There also was a death in northwest Houston, near the intersection of FM 1960 and Kuykendahl Road, according to Gonzalez and Harris County Precinct 3 Commissioner Tom Ramsey. Gonzalez said a 74-year-old woman was killed by a tree that fell on a home.

A third death was announced Monday afternoon by Mayor Whitmire, who said a Houston PD employee who was driving to work in the morning got trapped in high water after exiting I-45.

In a late afternoon presser, Hidalgo said first responders are aiding the Fire Marshal and County Engineer’s Offices in assessing the damage from Beryl.

Those are important for us to see if we can reach the thresholds to achieve federal support for our residents,” she said. “And also, there may be government buildings impacted. There may be roads that we really need to clear, etc.”

She said the big challenge going forward is renewed heat, given the ongoing mass power outages.

“The heat, obviously, is the big problem. So, it’s going to be very hot, it’s going to be very humid, the heat index like what we’ve seen the past few weeks. So, the power continues to be the main threat.”

She added that 7,000 crews are heading to the Houston area from around the country to help restore power.

A fence fell at a home in Cypress, Texas, during Hurricane Beryl on Monday, July 8, 2024.
Colleen DeGuzman / Houston Public Media

“This is a major event,” Ramsey said.

RELATED: Houston Public Media Hurricane and Tropical Storm Tracker

Several roadways across the region had become flooded by about 10:30 a.m., according to Gonzalez. And with stronger-than-expected winds that had caused 11 power transmission towers to fall, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo urged Houston-area residents to shelter in place until the afternoon and try to stay away from windows.

“Please stay safe, stay home,” Hidalgo said. “We’re still asking that folks stay where they are until at least noon and we’ll get through this.”

METRO, the public transit provider for the Houston region, announced shortly before 1 p.m. that it had suspended all of its services for the remainder of the day.

Health care facilities impacted

The St. Luke’s Health-Brazosport Hospital lost power and was damaged Monday morning, according to the health system, which said some patients were transferred to other hospitals while noting that no patients or staff were injured. The facility was operating on the power of a generator and remained opened for emergency services, the health system said.

Most other hospitals and emergency rooms around the Houston area remained open Monday, although many other clinics and medical facilities closed because of the storm. Harris Health closed its clinics and outpatient facilities, but its two hospitals, Ben Taub and LBJ, continued to operate.

Pictured is Brays Bayou near the intersection of North MacGregor Way and Ardmore Street in south Houston on Monday, July 8, 2024.
Submitted photo

All M.D. Anderson locations closed for patient appointments, although some urgent procedures were taking place at its Texas Medical Center campus. Kelsey-Seybold closed all of its clinics Monday.

The hospitals operated by Houston Methodist and Memorial Hermann Health System were open, although Memorial Hermann’s convenient care centers were open only for emergency services. Memorial Hermann’s other outpatient facilities, including its imaging and sports medicine locations, were closed.

Rainfall totals exceed 5 inches

A tropical storm warning was in effect for much of the southeast Texas region as of 11 a.m. Monday, with the Houston and Beaumont metro areas also under a flash flood warning, according to the National Weather Service. A storm surge warning remained in effect along the Gulf Coast between Galveston and Matagorda Bay.

According to the Harris County Flood Warning System, much of the Houston area received at least 5 inches of rainfall Monday morning, with some areas in the southern part of the county receiving 9 inches or more.

Houston TranStar cameras detected street flooding across the city. High water locations were detected on IH-69 Southwest Northbound at Dunlavy, Beltway 8-South Westbound before Almeda and Westpark Tollway Eastbound at Beltway 8, according to TranStar.

City leaders on Sunday urged residents to stay off of the streets as Beryl pushes through the metropolitan Monday.

RELATED: Houston braces for Beryl: Rain, flooding and tropical storm force winds likely

A stop sign leans as a roadside ditch fills up with rainwater on Becker Road on Hockley, Texas, on Monday, July 8, 2024.
Adam Zuvanich / Houston Public Media

“The less people on the road, the easier it is for us to do our job,” Acting Police Chief Larry Satterwhite said during a press conference Sunday. “The less chance that we will have to perform a rescue.”

“If you do have to go out on a roadway in a vehicle and drive around, if you see a body of water on the roadway, do not drive through that thinking you are going to get through that.”

The White House said Sunday that the Federal Emergency Management Agency had sent emergency responders, search-and-rescue teams, bottled water, and other resources along the coast.

Some coastal cities called for voluntary evacuations in low-lying areas that are prone to flooding, restricted beach camping and urged tourists traveling on the Fourth of July holiday weekend to move recreational vehicles from coastal parks.

RELATED: Houston region prepares for heavy rains as Beryl approaches Texas coast

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who is acting governor while Gov. Greg Abbott is traveling in Taiwan, issued a preemptive disaster declaration for 121 counties.

Mason Creek is nearly full in the Nottingham County subdivision in Katy, Texas, on Monday, July 8, 2024.
Kim Crosier

Beryl earlier this week battered Mexico as a Category 2 hurricane, toppling trees but causing no injuries or deaths before weakening to a tropical storm as it moved across the Yucatan Peninsula. The system crashed through the Caribbean before that, killing 11 people.

There were more than 200 canceled flights at both Bush Intercontinental and Hobby airports.

“As the storm approaches and people plan to stay indoors and safe from the storm, we want to remind everyone that our airports are not equipped to serve as storm shelters,” according to the Houston Airport System. “We lack the supplies and staff to accommodate people seeking refuge during the storm.”

Travelers should check with airlines for the latest updates and options for rebooking flights.

Beryl is the 10th hurricane to hit Texas in July since 1851 and the fourth in the last 25 years, according to Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach.

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