More than 2 million without power as Beryl unleashes high winds and heavy rains, stranding Texas residents

MATAGORDA, Texas (AP) — Tropical Storm Beryl unleashed heavy rains and powerful winds across the state of Texas on Monday, knocking out power to more than 2 million homes and businesses and flooding streets with fast-rising waters as first responders raced to rescue stranded residents.

2 people killed in Harris County in separate incidents of trees falling on homes during Beryl

Beryl had already cut a deadly path through parts of Mexico and the Caribbean before making a turn and later sweeping ashore as a Category 1 hurricane in Texas early Monday. At least two people were killed. The National Hurricane Center said damaging winds and flash flooding will continue as Beryl continues pushing inland.

More than 2 million homes and businesses in the Houston area were without power, CenterPoint Energy officials said. Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who is acting governor while Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is out of the country, said crews cannot get out to fix power lines until the wind dies down.

Blake Braun loads his dog Dolly into his family's vehicle as outer bands from Tropical Storm Beryl begin to hit the coast Sunday, July 7, 2024, in Port O'Connor, Texas. (Jon Shapley/Houston Chronicle via AP)A vehicle is stranded in high waters on a flooded highway in Houston, on Monday, July 8, 2024, after Beryl came ashore in Texas as a hurricane and dumped heavy rains along the coast. (AP Photo/Juan A. Lozano)A vehicle is stranded in high waters on a flooded highway in Houston, on Monday, July 8, 2024, after Beryl came ashore in Texas as a hurricane and dumped heavy rains along the coast. (AP Photo/Juan A. Lozano)

“We haven’t really slept,” said Rosenberg resident Eva Costancio as she gazed at a large tree that had fallen across power lines in her neighborhood. She said she had been without electricity for about four hours and worried that food in her refrigerator would be spoiled.

“We are struggling to have food and losing that food would be difficult,” she said.

High waters quickly began to close streets. In flood-weary Houston, where previous storms had already washed out neighborhoods, television stations on Monday broadcast the dramatic rescue of a man who had climbed to the roof of his pickup truck after it got trapped in fast-flowing waters. 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.

Houston was under a flash-flood warning for most of the morning as heavy rain continued to soak the city. Flood warnings also were in effect across a wide stretch of the Texas coast, where a powerful storm surge pushed water ashore, and further inland as heavy rain continued to fall. Suni Jugueta, a captain with the police department in the Houston suburb of Rosenberg, said emergency officials made three water rescues overnight.

Rosenberg police also noted that one of their high-water vehicles was hit by a falling tree while returning from a rescue, and they urged people to stay off the roads. Video footage showed heavy street flooding in the barrier island city of Galveston, and

Two people were killed after trees fell on their houses: a man in the Houston suburb of Humble and a woman in Harris County, authorities said. Hundreds of trees fell in the county, crushing vehicles and damaging homes, said Precinct 4 County Constable Mark Herman.

Patrick warned that flooding could last for days and the storm continues to dump rain onto already saturated ground.

“This is not a one-day event,” he said.

Beryl and the widespread power outages were just the latest weather blows for Houston, where nearly 1 million people lost power when deadly storms ripped through the area in May, killed eight people and brought much of the city to a standstill.

Texas officials warned people along the entire coastline to prepare for possible flooding, heavy rain and wind. Several coastal counties called for voluntary evacuations in low-lying areas. Local officials also banned beach camping and urged tourists traveling on the Fourth of July holiday weekend to move recreational vehicles from coastal parks.

Tornadoes and flash flooding were also possible in eastern Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas, the hurricane center said.

In the Texas coastal city of Freeport, Patti Richardson said she was riding out the the storm in her 123-year-old house.

“We are sitting in the middle of it. It sounds like we are in a train station, it’s that loud and has been about four hours. We’re just hoping everything holds together,” Richardson said. “You can feel the house shaking. ... It’s freaky.”

More than 1,000 flights have been canceled at Houston’s two airports, according to tracking data from FlightAware.

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. The storm ripped off doors, windows and roofs with devastating winds and storm surge fueled by the Atlantic’s record warmth.

Three times during its one week of life, Beryl has gained 35 mph (56 kph) in wind speed in 24 hours or less, the official weather service definition of rapid intensification.

Beryl’s explosive growth into an unprecedented early whopper of a storm indicates the hot water of the Atlantic and Caribbean and what the Atlantic hurricane belt can expect for the rest of the storm season, experts said.

In Louisiana, heavy bands of rain are expected all day Monday and “the risk is going to be for that heavy rainfall and potential for flash flooding,” National Weather Service meteorologist Donald Jones said in a Monday morning Facebook Live briefing.

Meteorologists in Louisiana are watching for lingering rainbands, which could drop copious amounts of rain wherever they materialize, as well as “quick, spin-up tornadoes,” said Donald Jones, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

“It’s just a matter of exactly where that’s going to be,” Jones said. “That’s very difficult to predict more than maybe an hour or so in advance.”

Beryl battered Mexico as a Category 2 hurricane last week, toppling trees but causing no injuries or deaths before weakening to a tropical storm as it moved across the Yucatan Peninsula.

Before hitting Mexico, Beryl wrought destruction in Jamaica, Barbados and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Three people were reported dead in Grenada, three in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, three in Venezuela and two 

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