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Texas braces for days of sweltering recovery from Hurricane Beryl

Beryl was responsible for multiple deaths after coming ashore Monday in Texas, where dangerous heat is now bearing down.
An upended tree rests on Bethel Church
Posted at 7:39 AM, Jul 09, 2024

About a million homes and businesses were without power Tuesday in Texas after then-Hurricane Beryl made landfall along the Gulf Coast Monday. Now dangerous heat is bearing down on the region.

The biggest energy provider in Houston says close to a million people have power back, but more than a million more are still in the dark.

The nation's fourth-largest city faces a challenging recovery from Hurricane Beryl. Houston's bayous are now over their banks, turning roads into rivers.

"We are seeing some of the water has cleared up, but there are still several spots around the city that have some street flooding," said Houston Fire Department Public Information Officer Martee Black. "And so it's just safest for everybody to stay home if that's at all possible."

More than 2 million people lost power, leading to a furious effort to get electricity back as temperatures rise.

"They have brought 11,500 workers — linemen, tree trimmers — to add to their force of 1,675 that they have on the ground," said Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who is acting governor while Greg Abbott is visiting Taiwan, South Korea and Japan as part of a planned trip. "And so we expect to see about a million customers get power by tomorrow."

But temperatures are soaring. An advisory from the National Weather Service said heat index values could reach 106 degrees in the days ahead.

"It's going to be very hot," said Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo. "It's going to be very humid. The heat index [will be] like what we'd seen the past the past few weeks."

CenterPoint Energy, a utility company with customers in Texas, said in an email that it could be days before power is restored.

County and local officials are readying cooling resources for people living in damaged housing or housing without air conditioning.

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President Joe Biden said he had approved a Major Disaster Declaration in Texas on Tuesday.

"As part of the federal support, we pre-positioned generators and are moving in additional ones to support any power outages, which will help Texans as the extreme heat arrives," the statement read. "With this Major Disaster Declaration in place, we will provide life-saving and life-sustaining activities, and any other Federal resource that Texas needs. We will be with the people of Texas for as long as it takes to recover."

Hurricane Beryl lost tropical characteristics on Monday after making landfall in Texas, but its remnants are still bringing heavy rain and the potential for severe storms in the Mississippi and Ohio River Valleys on Tuesday. A widespread area of the Midwest could get 2-4 inches of rain on Tuesday, the National Weather Service said.

Forecasters from the National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center warned of a risk of tornadoes on Tuesday for parts of Southern Indiana, Southern Illinois and Northern Kentucky. The tornado risk follows a day when 15 unconfirmed tornadoes touched down in the South on Monday, including one in Bossier, Louisiana, that killed a person when a tree fell onto a mobile home, the National Weather Service said.

The National Weather Service also reported six deaths associated with the hurricane in Texas:

  • Two people died on Monday in Magnolia, Texas, when a tree fell on a tent in the woods.
  • Another person died in Woodbranch, Texas, when a tree fell on a road.
  • One person died in Atascocita, Texas, when a tree fell on a house.
  • The National Weather Service said a person died in San Leon, Texas, after the electricity turned off, causing a person's breathing machine to stop working.
  • A person died in Spring, Texas, after a tree fell on a home.

In addition to wind gusts topping 90 mph when Beryl made landfall in Texas on Monday, up to 14 inches of rain was reported in the Houston area in a 48-hour period.

Texas resident talks about damage from Beryl

The storm became a hurricane on June 29 and maintained hurricane status for nearly a week as it impacted the Lesser Antilles and Jamaica. It made landfall on July 5 on the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, causing it to weaken into a tropical storm.

Beryl then regained hurricane status late Sunday, hours before making landfall in Texas.

While churning in the Caribbean Sea, Beryl was the most powerful Atlantic basin hurricane ever in the month of July as it once had top sustained winds of 165 mph.

The National Hurricane Center said no other tropical cyclones are expected to form in the next seven days.