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Tropical Storm Beryl updates: Millions without power as storm moves from Houston to East Texas

Tropical Storm Beryl updates: Millions without power as storm moves from Houston to East Texas
Hurricane Beryl updates: More than 1.8 million customers without power as storm moves inland
Posted at 10:06 AM, Jul 08, 2024

July 8, 2024 at 3:26 p.m.

Hurricane Beryl has knocked out power for more than 2.7 million Texas customers, as of 12:59 p.m. Monday, based on estimates from PowerOutage.us and CenterPoint Energy.

CenterPoint announced at 3:30 p.m. that its crews were beginning the process of restoring power to the 2.26 million Texas customers who lacked electricity. CenterPoint has not yet provided an estimate of when millions of its customers will regain electricity.

“We are mobilizing all of our available resources, as well as mutual assistance resources from other utility companies, to begin the process of quickly and safely restoring power to our customers,” Lynnae Wilson, senior vice president of Electric Business at CenterPoint. “We understand how difficult it is to be without power for any amount of time, especially in the heat. We are laser focused on the important and time-sensitive work that lies ahead.”

CenterPoint will begin publishing estimates for substantial power restorations after assessing the damage.

Outages are most extensive in the Houston area and coastal counties including Matagorda, where Beryl landed as a Category 1 hurricane at approximately 4 a.m., Monday. Significant outages are also in Galveston County, Calhoun County and Jackson County. As the morning progressed, outages extended further inland and into Deep East Texas to areas including Polk, San Jacinto, Montgomery, Grimes and Washington Counties.

Most of the outages are among customers who receive power from CenterPointEnergy. CenterPoint is the main electricity provider for the vast majority of residents in Harris and Fort Bend counties and also provides electricity to dozens of East Texas communities. The provider is not currently providing county-specific numbers on outages.

CenterPoint warned people to stay away from downed wires and to not attempt to remove tree limbs or objects from power lines. Customers are instead advised to report outages and hazardous conditions to their power company or local authorities.

As of noon, about 25,000 AEP Texas customers remained without electricity. Most of those outages were in the upper Corpus Christi area –– a loop starting from Port Lavaca to Bay City to El Campo and to Victoria. AEP crews began restoring power to some of their customers Monday and expect to have more restoration information in the next 24 hours.

For the more than 25,000 customers of Oncor Electric Delivery who were affected by the outages, power restoration will likely happen on a case by case basis, according to Kaiti Blake, a spokesperson for Oncor.

July 8, 2024 at 1:24 p.m.

Hurricane Beryl has knocked out power for more than 2.7 million Texas customers, as of 12:59 p.m. Monday, based on estimates from PowerOutage.us and CenterPoint Energy.

Outages are most extensive in the Houston area and coastal counties including Matagorda, where Beryl landed as a Category 1 hurricane at approximately 4 a.m. Monday morning. Significant outages are also in Galveston County, Calhoun County and Jackson County. As the morning progressed, outages extended further inland and into Deep East Texas to areas including Polk, San Jacinto, Montgomery, Grimes and Washington Counties.

Most of the outages are among customers who receive power from CenterPointEnergy. CenterPoint is the main electricity provider for the vast majority of residents in Harris and Fort Bend counties and also provides electricity to dozens of East Texas communities. The provider is not currently providing county-specific numbers on outages.

At 1:10 p.m., PowerOutage.us reported that more than 2.2 million of CenterPoint's 2.6 million Texas customers lacked electricity.

“As soon as safe to do so, you’ll see our crews headed out to start assessing damage and developing restoration plans,” CenterPoint said on social media platform X. The company warned people to stay away from downed wires and to not attempt to remove tree limbs or objects from power lines. Customers are instead advised to report outages and hazardous conditions to their power company or local authorities.

July 8, 2024 at 1:21 p.m.

After downing trees and power lines across the Greater Houston area, Hurricane Beryl has been downgraded to a Tropical Storm, meaning wind speeds have lowered below 75 miles per hour.

Maximum sustained winds have decreased to about 60 miles per hour, a 1 p.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center. Beryl is headed northeastward at about 14 miles per hour and is expected to increase in speed as it continues to move through East Texas, where some local officials asked residents to shelter in place.

The National Weather Service out of Shreveport is tracking three confirmed tornadoes on radar, two in Texas and the third in Louisiana. The first is south of Joaquin, which is north of Lufkin and near the Louisiana border, the second is north of Timpson, which is also near the border.

Forecasters urged Texans to use caution amid downed power lines and warned that improper generator use can cause carbon monoxide poisoning.

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On the Texas coastline, a storm surge warning is still in effect north of San Luis Pass to Sabine Pass, an area that includes Galveston Bay. The tropical storm warning was discontinued from Port O’Conner to San Luis Pass.

The Coastal Bend, including areas like Corpus Christi, was spared from the brunt of the storm.

July 8, 2024 at 10:33 a.m.

Hurricane Beryl has knocked out power for more than 2.3 million Texas customers, as of 10:27 a.m. Monday, based on estimates from PowerOutage.us and CenterPoint Energy.

Outages are most extensive in the Houston area and coastal counties including Matagorda, where Beryl landed as a Category 1 hurricane at approximately 4 a.m. Monday morning. Significant outages are also in Galveston County, Calhoun County and Jackson County. As the morning progressed, outages extended further inland and into Deep East Texas to areas including Polk, San Jacinto, Montgomery, Grimes and Washington Counties.

Most of the outages are among customers who receive power from CenterPointEnergy. CenterPoint is the main electricity provider for the vast majority of residents in Harris and Fort Bend counties and also provides electricity to dozens of East Texas communities. The provider is not currently providing county-specific numbers on outages.

At 10:27 a.m., PowerOutage.us reported that more than 1.9 million of CenterPoint's 2.6 million Texas customers lacked electricity.

“As soon as safe to do so, you’ll see our crews headed out to start assessing damage and developing restoration plans,” CenterPoint said on social media platform X. The company warned people to stay away from downed wires and to not attempt to remove tree limbs or objects from power lines. Customers are instead advised to report outages and hazardous conditions to their power company or local authorities.

July 8, 2024 at 10:59 a.m.

Two people have died and another was injured after Hurricane Beryl downed trees in separate Houston neighborhoods near George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Harris County.

The Atascocita Fire Department responded to a call about a fallen tree at approximately 6:30 a.m., according to Jerry Dilliard, the department’s spokesperson. Two people were at the residence, and one was deceased at the scene. The second person was transported to the hospital and their condition is currently unclear.

“One person was trapped under a ceiling in a part of the house that the tree had fallen on,” Dilliard said.

In an email, Harris County Sheriff’s Office senior deputy Thomas Gilliland confirmed the death, noting that a tree fell on a house and a man was trapped under debris.

“That tragic incident is being worked by our personnel,” Gilliland wrote.

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzales said on X that the deceased person is a 53-year-old man who was “sitting in a house with family, riding out the storm.”

Gonzales also reported hours later that a tree fell on a residence in the neighborhood of Rustic Canyon Trail in Houston, causing to the death of a 74-year-old woman.

July 8, 2024 at 12:32 p.m.

High winds have made their way north from the Texas coast into East Texas and counties have begun to ask residents to shelter in place as a way to keep emergency vehicles off the roads as well.

The storm kept up its momentum as a Category 1 hurricane all the way to Interstate 10, surprising meteorologist Matt Lanza at Space City Weather.

“The widespread wind gusts of 75 to 85 mph so far inland was really unnerving,” he wrote in an updated blog post.

Residents of San Jacinto, Liberty, Hardin and Tyler counties have been encouraged to shelter in place, especially to stay off the roads in an effort to also keep emergency vehicles off the road.

News outlets and emergency management teams throughout the region have reported downed power lines and trees throughout the region.

The National Weather Service issued a tornado watch until 10 p.m. Monday for counties between Montgomery and Texarkana counties, as well as Northwest and North Central Louisiana and Southern Arkansas. A wind advisory is in effect until Tuesday morning.

July 8, 2024 at 12:54 p.m.

In Polk County, which is home to the Lake Livingston Dam, the storm began to peak around 11 a.m. with the worst of it located over the dam, according to Polk County Emergency Management. High winds are still top of mind, even as Beryl has been downgraded to a tropical storm.

The dam, which recently reported potential failures, was releasing 21,175 cubic feet of water per second as of 11 a.m. and the lake level is at 130.93 feet above sea level.

This is significantly less than the several hundred thousand cubic feet of water released in April, when storms required several hundred thousand cubic feet of water per second to be released for multiple days in a row.

The Trinity River Authority, in conjunction with the Federal Aviation Authority, initiated a temporary flight restriction over the dam as the authority also began construction to mitigate potential failures early Monday.

July 8, 2024 at 10:39 a.m.

A wide swath of Texas is experiencing heavy winds and several inches of rain Monday as Hurricane Beryal move northeast across the state. At 10 a.m., the eye of the storm was located about 20 miles west of Houston and was moving northeastward at about 12 miles per hour, according to a National Hurricane Center advisory. Winds had slowed slightly to 70 miles per hour, down from the 80-mile-per-hour winds that hit Matagorda earlier in the morning.

The National Hurricane Center said that up to 10 inches of rain could fall in some places — and some isolated areas of the state may receive 15 inches. Some areas of Houston have already received nearly 10 inches of rainfall, according to data from the Harris County Flood Control District.

On Monday morning, local officials in the Houston area said the storm had downed trees and caused street flooding. In Rosenberg, a city 35 miles southwest of Houston, a downed tree hit a high water rescue vehicle returning from a rescue, police said on X. Officials urged residents to stay off roadways.

Some river flooding could also occur Monday, the National Hurricane Center warned. Beryl is expected to weaken from a hurricane to a tropical storm later on Monday.

Tornadoes are also possible across along the upper Texas coast and across parts of East Texas on Monday.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said Sunday that Texans living east of Interstate 35 could bear the brunt of the storm.

“Residents sheltering in place should take precautions right away for sustained wind, heavy rain, flooding, storm surges on the coast, and possible tornados,” Patrick said.

July 8, 2024 at 12:48 p.m.

Downed tree limbs and power lines, flooded streets, and power outages have Houston officials pleading with residents to stay home.

Houston mayor John Whitmire held a news conference Monday detailing the dire situation the city finds itself in as it took the brunt of Hurricane Beryl.

“We are dealing with a very serious amount of water. Around 10 inches of rain across the city and 90-mile-per-hour winds and hurricane conditions,” Whitmire said. “Please, Houstonians, shelter in place. We are in emergency and rescue mode.”

Whitmire said over 700,000 Houston electricity customers are currently without power, and the region’s two major airports are not open. However, city officials should better understand the situation now that the storm is moving away.

“We are experiencing the dirty side of a dirty storm,” Whitmire said.

The storm's sustained winds were still at 70 miles per hour as it moved from the Gulf Coast into the Houston area. The National Hurricane Center said that up to 10 inches of rain could fall in some places — and some isolated areas of the state may receive 15 inches. Some areas of Houston have already received nearly 10 inches of rainfall, according to data from the Harris County Flood Control District. On Monday morning, local officials in the Houston area said the storm had downed trees and caused street flooding. At least two people died when trees fell onto their residences.

In Rosenberg, a city 35 miles southwest of Houston, a downed tree hit a high water rescue vehicle returning from a rescue, police said on X. Officials there also urged residents to stay off roadways.

Houston Fire Department Chief Samuel Pena underscored the strain on resources due to the high demand for high-water rescues and live wire calls. These are currently the primary service requests, consuming a significant portion of their resources, and they have already helped eight people in high-water rescues.

“Earlier today, we saw a video of a high-water rescue, and you can see how resource-intensive those call types are. We can’t keep using those resources. Please be cautious and heed the warnings,” Pena said.

July 8, 2024 at 12:59 p.m.

When electrical power is knocked out after a hurricane, carbon monoxide poisoning from improperly used gas-powered generators is especially dangerous. The odorless, colorless gas is called an “invisible killer.” Early symptoms can include headache, dizziness, weakness and nausea, similar to the flu. To stay safe, experts recommend never connecting a generator directly to your home’s wiring, ensuring it's properly grounded, and always operate it outdoors away from windows and vents.

July 8, 2024 at 12:34 p.m.

Some refineries along the Texas coast have shut down due to Hurricane Beryl and are self-reporting instances of “unintentional” emissions.

In one instance, Freeport LNG, a large natural gas terminal on the coast of Brazoria County, reported releases of over 8,000 pounds of unplanned air pollution on Sunday. Pollutants included ethylene, a chemical with a faint sweet and musky odor, that can cause headache, dizziness, fatigue, and lightheadedness if people are exposed to it in large amounts overtime.

In their report to the state, the company wrote the facility was proactively shutting down before the hurricane winds caused power outages.

“[The shutdown] resulted in a subsequent unavoidable venting,” the report said.

Flaring, a process for burning unwanted gas to relieve pressure or clear pipes, usually happens before or during extreme weather events, said Luke Metzger, executive director of the nonprofit Environment Texas.

The Marathon Galveston Bay Refinery in Texas City, along the Houston Ship Channel, tweeted the facility was flaring Monday morning due to a brief power disruption during the storm. No report has been submitted to the state yet.

Metzger said Beryl’s pollution events are low compared to Hurricane Harvey’s 8.3 million pounds of air pollution reported to the state, but suspects more facilities will submit reports after the storm’s passing.

“I was surprised looking at the pollution reports that there has been relatively little pollution reported,” Metzger said. “That’s either good news because the storm had less of an impact [on refineries] or facilities [operators] have learned their lesson.”

July 8, 2024 at 5:37 a.m.

Hurricane Beryl made landfall near Matagorda around 4 a.m. Monday as a Category 1 Hurricane, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm strengthened through Sunday evening and had maximum sustained winds of 80 miles per hour when it came ashore. A 5 a.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center warned about life-threatening storm surge and inland flooding Monday.

Hundreds of thousands of Texans are without power, including many in coastline counties such as Brazoria and Matagorda, according to PowerOutage.us. The full scope of the storm's damage is not yet clear — and it could cause more Monday as it moves northeast through the state.

The hurricane center said the coast was experiencing life-threatening storm surge. It also warned of flash floods throughout the southeastern portion of the state as the storm continues moving inland, bringing five to 10 inches of rain to some areas — or up to 15 inches in some isolated places.Category 1 storms primarily damage unanchored mobile homes, shrubbery and trees. They can also do extensive damage to electricity lines and cause power outages that last several days

July 8, 2024 at 5:00 a.m.

Stay away from flood waters and damaged power lines. Don’t enter damaged buildings. Take photos and document damages to your home or property. Residents are also encouraged to document their storm damages and losses through a state-run online survey to help state officials understand the extent of the damages.Organizations like the American Red Cross, Salvation Army and local volunteer organizations can help you find food, shelter and supplies, as well as even assist you with clean-up efforts.

Government and community resources may be available to help with recovery. Disaster declarations from the governor and president may free up federal funds for recovery assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. People cannot receive disaster aid and insurance assistance for the same damages, so insured Texans should file claims through their existing policies before applying for FEMA assistance.

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"Hurricane Beryl updates: More than 1.8 million customers without power as storm moves inland" was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.