With power still out from Beryl, many Texas residents face their next challenge: Extreme heat

HOUSTON — Days after Hurricane Beryl made landfall in southeast Texas, millions of people were still without power on Thursday amid stifling temperatures as they try to recover from the storm.

At least 11 people were killed after the Category 1 hurricane made landfall on the Gulf Coast of Texas before moving inland, according to Fox26 Houston. Beryl caused massive flooding in Houston, with some areas receiving over 10 inches of rain in 24 hours. Winds that gusted as high as 90 miles per hour also toppled trees across the city.

Heat advisories

Since the storm passed and cleanup efforts have gotten underway, Houston has endured several days of temperatures in the high 90s and even in the triple digits. The National Weather Service has issued heat advisories for central and southeast Texas, where the temperature feels like 102 degrees Fahrenheit.

Chelsea Lipstreu, who lives in northeast Houston, lost trees that landed over her backyard swimming pool. Power was also knocked out early Monday. While a backup generator kicked on at 6:30 a.m., she said, it only held out for three hours, and since then she and her family have been without power.

“The heat is unbearable,” Lipstreu told Yahoo News. “The humidity. ... We can’t walk upstairs in our house. It’s unlivable. We can open the windows at night to cool it off a little bit once the temperature gets below 85. It’s very unpleasant.”

Frustration builds

According to PowerOutage.us, over 1.3 million Texans were still without power on Thursday, leading to growing frustration by customers of Houston-area utility provider CenterPoint Energy.

“CenterPoint had a week to prepare us for Hurricane Beryl, and they shit the bed,” Derrian Walton, a resident of Pearland, a suburb just south of Houston, told Yahoo News. Walton said he wanted to see CenterPoint be prepared with its communication, specifically with its online tracker so that customers could see what was happening.

Many residents have called on CenterPoint to beef up its supply of generators to help keep police stations and wastewater facilities running when major storms hit.

"It's time for us to figure out what the solution is so when we have the next storm we'll be prepared and can respond," Randy Macchi, chief operating officer for Houston Public Works, told Houston Landing.

Walton said he and his roommate walk down to their local bank every day to charge their phones, and then walk even farther to buy food as the restaurants closest to him are also still without power.

“Being in Pearland, we were basically one of the first ones to get hit. And being without power, going on day three, is a little bit ridiculous,” Walton said, adding that the food he had in his refrigerator has now mostly gone bad.

CenterPoint released a map showing its outages on Tuesday; however, it doesn't come with an official timeline of when the company will restore power to its customers.

On Tuesday, as the heat index rose to triple digits, Houston Mayor John Whitmire addressed the city and assured it that everyone would be accounted for.

“We’re doing everything we possibly can to see that your electricity is restored,” he said at a press briefing. “It affects everything we’re talking about today.”

Later, Whitmire seemed to acknowledge that he had little control over when the power would go back on.

"The city does not run CenterPoint, but we're in this together," Whitmire said.

On Tuesday, President Biden approved a disaster declaration for Texas, freeing up federal funds to help aid recovery efforts. With downed trees and standing water still blocking some streets and electrical poles snapped like twigs, the cleanup effort could drag on for weeks.

A rough year for Houston

Linda Tepera, who lives in the northeast Houston suburb of Cloverleaf, was in her house Monday with her 87-year-old mother when a tree was uprooted by the wind and fell on the roof.

“It was just a really loud boom,” Tepera said. “It’s unnerving, but it’s fixable and we have everything lined up. ... Fifty-three years on this corner and we’ve been through several hurricanes and several tropical storms, and this is a first.”

Hurricane Beryl was just the latest severe weather event to hit Houston in recent months. In May, 2 million people lost power when a fast-moving, severe thunderstorm dumped between 8 and 12 inches of rain on the city and high winds damaged buildings and toppled trees.

In June, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration for over 50 counties in the state, including Harris, where Houston is located, after Tropical Storm Alberto made landfall, bringing flooding due to extreme rainfall.

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