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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

‘We’re in an emergency,’ mayor warns as storm batters Houston

Jack Reyna and his son work to drain floodwater in their neighborhood after Hurricane Beryl swept through the area on July 8 in Houston, Texas. Tropical Storm Beryl developed into a Category 1 hurricane as it hit the Texas coast late last night.  (Getty Images)
By J. David Goodman New York Times

Strong winds and torrential rains from Tropical Storm Beryl battered Houston and its suburbs Monday morning, flooding streets and knocking out power for more than 2 million customers in Texas.

Officials warned that the winds were stronger than many in Houston had expected and urged residents to take shelter as if a tornado were passing through. At least two people were killed by falling trees north of Houston, officials said, including a 74-year-old woman.

“We’re experiencing right now the dirty side of a dirty hurricane,” Mayor John Whitmire of Houston said at a late-morning news conference. “Shelter in place, shelter in place. We’re in an emergency.”

Here’s what to know:

The forecast: Beryl, which made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane just before 4 a.m. in Matagorda, Texas, had maximum sustained winds of 65 mph as of noon local time, according to the National Hurricane Center. Its center was about 50 miles north of downtown Houston.

The impact in Houston so far: Beryl’s deadly force cut down trees across the city and dumped so much rain that sections of highways were transformed into rivers. At least eight people were rescued from high water, a top police official said.

The damage elsewhere: Beryl tore a deadly path across the Caribbean, killing at least 11 people as it flattened islands, inundated communities and became the first hurricane to reach Category 5 status this early in the season.

Climate’s role: Researchers have found that climate change has increased the frequency of major hurricanes.

It is also making hurricanes intensify faster and produce more rain with a higher storm surge. Beryl’s quick escalation to a major hurricane is a bad sign for the rest of the season.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.