‘Dirty side of a dirty hurricane’: Houston’s widespread damage and recovery efforts after Hurricane Beryl

Three deaths, 900 calls an hour to 911, widespread damage and power outages for more than 2 million in Greater Houston area

July 8, 2024: Houston Mayor John Whitmire and emergency management officials walk through damage and recovery efforts after Hurricane Beryl. (Copyright 2024 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

HOUSTON – “We woke up this morning on the dirty side of a dirty hurricane,” Houston Mayor John Whitmire said in his late evening briefing, warning people not to be fooled by blue skies.

Whitmire’s Key Messaging at 4:45 p.m. Monday

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  • Steps for Federal Disaster Declaration are underway
  • Three deaths including a public servant on their way to work, and an HPD civilian employee
  • 910K Houstonians without power, more than 2.2M in the Greater Houston area
  • 10,000+ workers coming in to help restore power
  • Many of the city’s traffic signals are out
  • Beryl brought winds up to 90 mph
  • More than 15″ of rain
  • More than 900 calls to 911 during the morning when Beryl moved through
  • Heavy garbage pickup on Tuesday
  • The drinking water system is safe and secure
  • Wastewater system faces many challenges with events like this; crews are assessing what they’re calling a major strain on the system
  • METRO lift operational
  • METRO will have limited services tomorrow

“Nothing will be unattended to if physically and humanly possible,” Whitmire said.

Emergency managers warned Houstonians to stay off the road, even major highways, especially after dark.

“Listen to the warnings and stay home,” U.S. Senator Ted Cruz advised everyone.

Monday’s garbage, recycling, yard and tree waste will be collected on Tuesday and Tuesday’s trash collected on Wednesday when regular trash pickup resumes.

Second-pass storm debris collections that were set to start Monday will resume Tuesday.

The city’s Solid Waste Management workers will also conduct city-wide damage assessments.

During his first briefing before noon, Whitmire pleaded with Houstonians to shelter in place and stay off the streets.

Whitmire’s Key Messaging at 11:15 a.m. Monday

  • We’re getting calls to rescue people in life-threatening situations
  • Both airports remain closed
  • Bayous have jumped their banks and the White Oak Bayou is creating life-threatening situations along Heights Blvd.
  • Conditions should improve around noon or shortly after and City of Houston will assess with Red Cross where to open shelters
  • George R Brown Convention Center is without power along with some other key facilities the city normally uses for shelter
  • Our water supply is fine

“All I want to do is urge everyone, I plead with you to shelter in place,” Whitmire said, multiple times.

People have been walking into LBJ Hospital to seek shelter, the mayor said.

“After we transition from life saving and safety, we’ll do an assessment” of structures and damage.

“Stay off the roads. There is debris. I traveled from my home early this morning. Barely. The mayor was barely able to get to the emergency center. That’s how dangerous our streets. Our traffic lights are out throughout the city,” Whitmire said, adding the city prepared for this moment and crews are doing all they can.

“What I want to stress in this situation is collaboration,” Whitmire said. “First responders are putting their lives at risk. . .if everyone will help us, help them.”

LIVE BLOG: Latest updates as Hurricane Beryl hits Houston | Stay informed with KPRC 2

“Getting the power back on is one of our highest priorities,” the mayor said. “I do not have power. We’re all living this together. We’re all in this together.”

About the Authors

Moriah Ballard joined the KPRC 2 digital team in the fall of 2021. Prior to becoming a digital content producer in Southeast Texas and a Houstonian, Moriah was an award-winning radio host in her hometown of Lorain, Ohio, and previously worked as a producer/content creator in Cleveland. Her faith, family, and community are her top passions.

Houston bred and super excited to be back home! I grew up in The Heights with my 8 brothers and sisters and moved back in 2024. My career as a journalist spans a lot of years -- I like to say there's a lot of tread on these tires! I'm passionate about helping people. I also really love sharing success stories and stories of redemption. Email me!

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