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Deadly Beryl blows into Houston as Category 1 hurricane

High water in Buffalo Bayou after Hurricane Beryl. The view is looking from the Shepherd Drive overpass over Allen Parkway.
David Smith
High water in Buffalo Bayou after Hurricane Beryl. The view is looking from the Shepherd Drive overpass over Allen Parkway.

Beryl brought heavy rain and strong winds to the Houston area Monday morning while causing widespread power outages and at least two deaths, according to local officials.

The storm made landfall near Matagorda around 4 a.m. Monday as a Category 1 hurricane, according to the National Weather Service, bringing 80-mile-per-hour, hurricane-force winds to portions of the Texas coast. It was downgraded to a tropical storm shortly after 10 a.m., when it was moving north through the Houston region.

Beryl’s rain and winds had largely left the metro area by mid-afternoon, although many bayous and roadways were flooded and more than 2.2 million homes and businesses in the Houston area were still without electricity, CenterPoint Energy’s online outage tracker showed. And at least two people had died as a result of fallen trees.

CPS Energy crews are expected to roll into Houston by midday Tuesday. San Antonio and Bexar County officials said they were ready to help residents of East Texas communities if needed.

“The rains are pretty much ending from south to north,” Eric Berger, a meteorologist with Space City Weather, said at about 2 p.m. Monday. “We’re going to see pretty significant improvement in these creeks and bayous over the next several hours. … There should be considerable improvement today and into this evening.”

A tree fell on a home in Humble on Monday morning, killing a 53-year-old man inside, the Harris County Sheriff's Office reported. The man was reportedly "sitting in house with family, riding out the storm. An oak tree fell on roof and hit rafters, structure fell on the male. Wife and children unharmed," Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez wrote on X.

There also was a death in northwest Houston, near the intersection of FM 1960 and Kuykendahl Road, according to Gonzalez and Harris County Precinct 3 Commissioner Tom Ramsey. Gonzalez said a 74-year-old woman was killed by a tree that fell on a home.

“This is a major event,” Ramsey said.

Several roadways across the region had become flooded by about 10:30 a.m., according to Gonzalez. And with stronger-than-expected winds that had caused 11 power transmission towers to fall, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo urged Houston-area residents to shelter in place until the afternoon and try to stay away from windows.

“Please stay safe, stay home,” Hidalgo said. “We’re still asking that folks stay where they are until at least noon and we’ll get through this.”

Houston officials said they had performed at least 15 high-water rescues and more were ongoing.

Beryl made Texas landfall as a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico Monday. Here's how its impacted travel in and out of the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Local TV stations broadcast a dramatic rescue of a man who had climbed to the roof of his pickup truck after it got trapped in fast-flowing waters on 288. Emergency crews used an extension ladder from a fire truck to drop him a life preserver and a tether before moving him to dry land.

"First responders are putting their lives at risk. That's what they're trained for," Houston Mayor John Whitmire said.

METRO, the public transit provider for the Houston region, announced shortly before 1 p.m. that it had suspended all of its services for the remainder of the day.

Rainfall totals exceed 5 inches

A tropical storm warning was in effect for much of the southeast Texas region as of 11 a.m. Monday, with the Houston and Beaumont metro areas also under a flash flood warning, according to the National Weather Service. A storm surge warning remained in effect along the Gulf Coast between Galveston and Matagorda Bay.

According to the Harris County Flood Warning System, much of the Houston area received at least 5 inches of rainfall Monday morning, with some areas in the southern part of the county receiving 9 inches or more.

There were more than 1,000 canceled flights at both Bush Intercontinental and Hobby airports on Monday.

“As the storm approaches and people plan to stay indoors and safe from the storm, we want to remind everyone that our airports are not equipped to serve as storm shelters,” according to the Houston Airport System. “We lack the supplies and staff to accommodate people seeking refuge during the storm.”

Travelers should check with airlines for the latest updates and options for rebooking flights.

Health care facilities impacted

The St. Luke’s Health-Brazosport Hospital lost power and was damaged Monday morning, according to the health system, which said some patients were transferred to other hospitals while noting that no patients or staff were injured. The facility was operating on the power of a generator and remained opened for emergency services, the health system said.

Most other hospitals and emergency rooms around the Houston area remained open Monday, although many other clinics and medical facilities closed because of the storm. Harris Health closed its clinics and outpatient facilities, but its two hospitals, Ben Taub and LBJ, continued to operate.

All M.D. Anderson locations closed for patient appointments, although some urgent procedures were taking place at its Texas Medical Center campus. Kelsey-Seybold closed all of its clinics Monday.

The hospitals operated by Houston Methodist and Memorial Hermann Health System were open, although Memorial Hermann’s convenient care centers were open only for emergency services. Memorial Hermann’s other outpatient facilities, including its imaging and sports medicine locations, were closed.

State and federal officials monitoring Beryl

President Joe Biden was getting regular updates on the storm after it made landfall, the White House said. The U.S. Coast Guard and FEMA had prepared search and rescue teams, and FEMA collected bottled water, meals, tarps and electric generators in case they are needed.

Some coastal cities called for voluntary evacuations in low-lying areas that are prone to flooding, restricted beach camping and urged tourists traveling on the Fourth of July holiday weekend to move recreational vehicles from coastal parks.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who is acting governor while Gov. Greg Abbott is traveling in Taiwan, issued a preemptive disaster declaration for 121 counties.

Beryl earlier this week battered Mexico as a Category 2 hurricane, toppling trees but causing no injuries or deaths before weakening to a tropical storm as it moved across the Yucatan Peninsula. The system crashed through the Caribbean before that, killing 11 people.

Beryl is the 10th hurricane to hit Texas in July since 1851 and the fourth in the last 25 years, according to Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach.