Tropical Storm Beryl Devastates Southeast Texas: Lives Lost, Power Outages, and Flooding

The U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) indicated that the Beryl storm, moving across Houston, could trigger tornadoes in Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas.

Storm Beryl devastates southeast Texas
Storm Beryl devastates southeast Texas.

Tropical Storm Beryl wreaked havoc in southeast Texas on Monday, bringing powerful winds and torrential rain that resulted in the deaths of at least three people. The storm caused widespread flooding, shut down oil ports, canceled over 1,300 flights, and left more than 2.7 million homes and businesses without power.

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Beryl, the earliest Category 5 hurricane of the season, had weakened from a hurricane status after hitting Matagorda, Texas, with dangerous storm surges and heavy rainfall. The U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) indicated that the storm, moving across Houston, could trigger tornadoes in Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas.

Before striking Texas, Beryl carved a destructive path through Jamaica, Grenada, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, causing at least 11 fatalities in Mexico and the Caribbean. Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick reported that in Texas, a 53-year-old man and a 74-year-old woman were killed by falling trees in the Houston area, and a city employee drowned in an underpass.

The storm led to reduced oil refining activity and the evacuation of some production sites in Texas, the leading U.S. oil and natural gas producer. Patrick urged northeast Texas residents to stay indoors and off the roads due to expected tropical storm winds and flooding.

State officials had yet to assess the full economic impact as rescue operations continued amid ongoing powerful winds. Power restoration efforts could take several days, according to Thomas Gleeson, chair of the Texas Public Utility Commission. More than 2,500 first responders were deployed statewide, said Nim Kidd, chief of the Texas Division of Emergency Management.

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Ahead of the storm, residents boarded up windows and stocked up on supplies. By dawn, strong winds and heavy rain were battering cities like Galveston, Sargent, Lake Jackson, and Freeport. Houston saw numerous fallen trees and flooded roads, making major freeways impassable. The city set up barricades in flooded areas.

Rescue operations included a dramatic save of a man from a truck stranded on a flooded freeway, captured on video by Houston’s local ABC station. Mayor John Whitmire reported that floodwaters reached over 10 inches in Houston, prompting numerous calls for rescue.

Beryl had strengthened to a Category 1 hurricane over the Gulf of Mexico before making landfall but was expected to weaken to a tropical depression and then a post-tropical cyclone by Tuesday. Despite weakening, the storm was forecasted to bring heavy rain across eastern Texas, Arkansas, the Lower Ohio Valley, and the Lower Great Lakes over the next few days.

Federal agencies, including FEMA and the U.S. Coast Guard, were prepared to assist with search and rescue efforts, and FEMA had pre-positioned supplies like water, meals, and generators. Schools closed as the storm approached, airlines canceled flights, and some beach town residents were evacuated. Many small businesses in Houston remained closed or delayed opening.

Patrick and reported that more than 2.7 million homes and businesses in Texas lost power. Several southeastern Texas counties, including Houston, faced flash-flood warnings with up to nearly 12 inches of rain in some areas.

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Oil port closures around Corpus Christi, Galveston, and Houston ahead of the storm threatened to disrupt crude oil exports and shipments to refineries. While the Corpus Christi Ship Channel reopened, the Port of Houston was expected to resume operations on Tuesday afternoon.

Some oil companies, including Shell and Chevron, evacuated personnel from Gulf of Mexico offshore platforms. Marathon Petroleum Corp’s Texas City refinery experienced a power outage due to the storm.

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