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Hurricane Beryl Slams Houston: What Residents Need to Know

Hurricane Beryl Slams Houston: What Residents Need to Know

Hurricane Beryl made landfall on the Texas Gulf Coast early Monday morning, July 8, 2024, as a Category 1 hurricane, causing widespread damage and power outages across the Houston metropolitan area. As the storm continues to move inland, residents are grappling with its aftermath and bracing for potential flooding. Here's what you need to know about the situation and how to stay safe.

Landfall and Current Status

Beryl made landfall near Matagorda Bay, about 85 miles southwest of Houston, at approximately 4:00 AM local time. At landfall, the storm packed maximum sustained winds of 80 mph. As of 2:00 PM, Beryl has been downgraded to a tropical storm with maximum sustained winds of 60 mph, but it continues to bring heavy rainfall and strong winds to the region.

Widespread Power Outages

One of the most significant impacts of Hurricane Beryl has been widespread power outages. As of 2:00 PM, more than 2.7 million customers across Texas were without power, with the majority of outages concentrated in the Houston area. CenterPoint Energy, the primary electricity provider for Houston, reported over 2.2 million customers without power. Entergy, another major provider in the region, reported about 201,000 outages, primarily in Montgomery, Jefferson, Walker, and Liberty counties.

Utility companies are working to restore power, but residents should be prepared for potentially extended outages. If you're without power, here are some safety tips:

  1. Use flashlights instead of candles to avoid fire hazards.
  2. Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain cold temperatures.
  3. Never use generators, grills, or other gasoline, propane, natural gas, or charcoal-burning devices inside your home, garage, or near windows.
  4. Unplug major appliances to avoid damage from power surges when electricity is restored.

Flooding and Road Closures

While Beryl's wind speeds have decreased, the slow-moving nature of the storm poses a significant flood risk. Several major roadways in Houston are experiencing high water, including portions of Highway 288, Interstate 45, and West Little York Road. Residents are strongly advised to avoid driving through flooded areas - remember the saying, "Turn Around, Don't Drown."

Local authorities are continually updating lists of road closures and high-water locations. Check official county and city websites or local news stations for the most up-to-date information before attempting to travel.

Storm-Related Fatalities

Tragically, at least two storm-related deaths have been reported in the Houston area. Both fatalities occurred when trees fell on homes. This underscores the importance of staying indoors and away from windows during the storm.

Shelter-in-Place Orders

Houston Mayor John Whitmire has issued a shelter-in-place order for all Houston residents. This means you should stay where you are unless absolutely necessary to leave. The order is intended to keep residents safe from hazardous road conditions and to allow emergency responders to move freely.

School and Business Closures

Most school districts in the Houston area have announced closures for Monday and Tuesday. Many businesses are also closed. Check with your employer or school district for specific information.

What to Do Now

  1. Stay informed: Continue to monitor local news and official sources for updates on the storm and its impacts.
  2. Stay inside: If you're in a safe location, remain there until local officials give the all-clear.
  3. Be prepared for flooding: If you live in a flood-prone area, be ready to move to higher ground if necessary.
  4. Check on neighbors: If it's safe to do so, check on elderly or disabled neighbors who might need assistance.
  5. Document damage: If your property has sustained damage, take photos or videos for insurance purposes once it's safe to do so.
  6. Be cautious of hazards: Watch out for downed power lines, weakened trees or structures, and other storm-related hazards.
  7. Conserve cell phone battery: Charge your devices when possible and limit use to conserve battery life.

Looking Ahead

While Beryl is weakening as it moves inland, its impacts will continue to be felt in the Houston area for days to come. The risk of flooding remains high as the slow-moving storm continues to dump rain on already saturated ground.

Recovery efforts will likely take weeks or even months. Residents should be prepared for ongoing challenges related to power outages, road closures, and potential shortages of supplies.

Remember, your safety is paramount. Follow all instructions from local officials and don't take unnecessary risks. Houston has weathered major storms before, and together, the community will get through this one as well.

Stay safe, Houston.