Hurricane rips through US states

By John Mercury July 9, 2024

At least seven people have died and millions were left without power after Hurricane Beryl ripped through southern US states late on Monday.

Six people were confirmed dead in Texas, including a 53-year-old man and a 74-year-old woman, both killed when trees fell onto their homes in separate incidents in Harris County, NBC, Sky’s US partner, said, quoting police.

Russell Richardson, a 54-year-old information security officer called in to help with relief efforts, “was caught in rising flood waters and tragically lost his life” as he drove to work, police in Houston said.

A contractor surveys a Dallas-based client’s home for structure damage after Hurricane Beryl moved through the area in Galveston, Texas, U.S. July 8, 2024. REUTERS/Kaylee Greenlee Beal
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A home battered by the storm in Surfside Beach, Texas. Pic: Reuters

Montgomery County Emergency Management confirmed the deaths of a man in his 40s who was struck by a tree while operating a tractor, and two people whose bodies were found in a tent in a wooded area in Magnolia.

A woman in Benton, Louisiana, died when a tree fell onto her home, according to Bossier Sheriff Julian Whittington.

Even as a huge clean-up operation began to restore power to 2.3 million energy customers, more than 21 million people from Arkansas to Michigan were put under flood watches on Tuesday morning as the storm moved northeastwards.

Pictures were published of houses with roofs blown off by winds of up to 80mph (128kmh) after Beryl made landfall early on Monday near the coastal town of Matagorda.

The storm, which was re-classified to a tropical depression on Monday – knocked out 10 long-distance transmission lines and toppled hundreds of trees, some of which took down local power lines.

Almost two million of those affected by power outages are customers of CenterPoint Energy, Houston’s main electricity provider, which has said it hopes to restore services to half of them by Thursday.

Floodwaters rise next to the I-10 freeway just after Hurricane Beryl made landfall, Monday, July 8, 2024, in Houston. (Raquel Natalicchio/Houston Chronicle via AP)
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Floodwaters next to the I-10 freeway in Houston. Pic: AP

Texas lieutenant governor Dan Patrick said the company was bringing in thousands of additional workers to restore power, and prioritising places such as nursing homes and assisted living centres.

Mr Patrick said: “We’re not past any difficult conditions,” and predicted a “multiple day process to get power restored”.

A contractor surveys a Dallas-based client’s home for structure damage after Hurricane Beryl moved through the area in Galveston, Texas, U.S. July 8, 2024. REUTERS/Kaylee Greenlee Beal
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A damaged house in Galveston. Pic: Reuters

Dozens of vehicles were left stranded on flooded roads as heavy rains swamped parts of the state.

Houston, the fourth-largest city in the US, suffered much of the damage as Beryl’s rains pounded coastal areas, but there were no immediate reports of structural damage.

A drone view shows a flooded area, in the aftermath of Hurricane Beryl, in Houston, Texas, U.S. July 8, 2024, in this screen grab taken from a social media video. @cjblain10 via X/via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES.
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Flooding in Houston. Pic: @cjblain10 via X/via Reuters

Video of the dramatic rescue of a man who had climbed to the roof of his pickup truck after it got trapped in fast-flowing waters was broadcast by local TV stations.

Emergency crews used an extension ladder from a fire truck to drop him a life jacket and a rope before moving him to dry land, one of at least 25 water rescues in the city, mostly for people with vehicles stuck in floodwaters.

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In May, eight people died and nearly one million were left without power as a previous set of storms hit the city.

Houston mayor John Whitmire said: “First responders are putting their lives at risk. That’s what they’re trained for. It’s working.”

Damaging winds and flash flooding would continue as Beryl pushes inland, forecasters said.

A drone view shows a flooded area, in the aftermath of Hurricane Beryl, in Houston, Texas, U.S. July 8, 2024, in this screen grab taken from a social media video. @cjblain10 via X/via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES.
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Houston, the fourth-largest city in the US, suffered much of the damage. Pic: @cjblain10 via X/via Reuters

With parts of the area sweltering in a heatwave, restoring power is an urgent requirement, even though temperatures cooled slightly with the storm, which has moved eastwards, putting several other states at risk.

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It is forecast to weaken further to become a post-tropical cyclone on Tuesday.

As it moved inland, the storm threatened to create tornadoes and the US National Weather Service confirmed on social media that tornadoes had been spotted in northeastern Louisiana.

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