Scenes from Downtown Houston During Tropical Storm Edouard

The tunnels started flooding sometime before noon.

The flooding was actually a few slow trickles from the tunnel walls between the Hyatt Regency and the Allen Center, and the problem was handled with towels, mops and caution signs. Lunchtime tunnel walkers paid little attention to the water.

The food court under the Allen Center was open and fairly busy for lunch. A couple shops were closed, and some workers reported about 50 percent of normal business. The cafeteria under the Exxon Building was also open and busy at lunchtime.

Above ground did not fair so well. Quite a few restaurants and fast food joints were open, but business was slow. Robert Custer, owner of Zero's Sandwich Shop at the corner of Dallas and Milam streets, said he had about 20 customers all day and was closing at 2 p.m. In all fairness to Edouard, Custer said the day wasn't much worse than a slow Saturday.

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For those of us just walking around downtown, a look of defeat was common. Umbrellas were useless. When it got gusty, people carrying umbrellas were often seen fighting the wind like a lunatic, desperately trying to stop the always-funny inside-out umbrella. In fact, umbrellas might be today's real carnage in downtown. Mangled, they were tossed in trash cans, in the grass, and on the streets and side walks.

The driest outsider of the day had to be Gabino Gomez, who was dressed in yellow rain garb, fit to gaff swordfish off the side of the Andrea Gail. Gomez had been in front of the JP Morgan Chase Bank building all day, sweeping pools of water away from the building's entrance.

Plastic of some sort seemed the best way to keep dry, and a man who identified himself as John had done just that. From the corner of Lamar and Main, at about 1:45 p.m., John gave us our best weather report of the day. Three hours ago, John said, it was raining and blowing like hell with nowhere to go. The storm had hurt John's street business. He'd been unable to panhandle even a dollar. – Paul Knight

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