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July 23 2024 / 05:05 PM
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Houston, Texas, on July 8, 2024 (Photo by Reginald Mathalone_NurPhoto via AP)

Power started to come back for some of the millions of homes and businesses left in the darkwhen Hurricane Beryl slammed into the Houston area, while the weakened storm moved east, spawning suspected tornadoes and causing more damage.

Beryl was blamed for killing several people in Texas on Monday and at least one person in Louisiana, officials said.

After a peak Monday of more than 2.7 million customers around Houston without power, the numbers improved to more than 2.3 million homes and businesses lacking electricity by Tuesday morning. The lack of cooling to people’s homes, downed power lines and non-functioning traffic lights led officials to ask residents to stay home if possible.

Houstonians need to know we’re working around the clock so you will be safe,” Houston Mayor John Whitmire said Monday at a media briefing, urging residents to also know the dangers of high water, to stay hydrated and to check on their neighbours.

Beryl later Monday weakened into a tropical depression and by Tuesday morning the weather service said it was about 155 kilometers north of Shreveport, Louisiana, moving northeast with maximum sustained wind speeds near 48 kph. Its strength wasn’t expected to change much in the next day or two.

While weakened, Beryl threatened to unleash more harsh weather over several other states in coming days. The storm was expected to bring heavy rainfall and possible flash flooding from the lower and mid-Mississippi Valley to the Great Lakes on Tuesday into Wednesday, the weather service said.

A flood watch was in effect for parts of Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan and tornadoes were possible through the early morning across parts of the Mid-South. A few tornadoes were possible from midday to the early evening in Missouri, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio, according to the weather service.

Texas state and local officials warned it could take several days to fully restore power after Beryl came ashore as a Category 1 hurricane, toppled 10 transmission lines and knocked down trees that took down power lines.

Power crews were working to restore service as quickly as possible, an urgent priority for homes also left without air conditioning in the middle of summer. Temperatures above 32.2 Celsius were expected Tuesday. The National Weather Service issued a heat advisory that said the area heat index could reach 40.5 C.

The earliest storm to develop into a Category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic, Beryl caused at least 11 deaths as it passed through the Caribbean on its way to Texas. In Jamaica, officials said Monday that island residents will have to contend with food shortages after Beryl destroyed over $6.4 million in crops and supporting infrastructure.

 

The Associated Press

Jul 09, 2024

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