With Beryl on its Way, Mayor Whitmire Urges Residents to Hunker Down

Mayor Whitmire at Sunday press conference
Mayor Whitmire at Sunday press conference Screenshot

As Beryl continued its path toward Texas landfall, Mayor John Whitmire and other Houston area officials urged local residents to stay home as of 10 p.m. Sunday to stay safe and not add extra demands on first responders poised to go into action as the storm's effects are felt here.

As of 5 p.m. Sunday, Beryl was expected to make landfall as a hurricane. There is a potential for power outages lasting two days.

"To all Houstonians, we have to take Beryl very, very seriously," Whitmire said as he began his press conference. "Tomorrow, city employees are to work from home. Municipal courts, other services will be suspended and determined late tomorrow evening about Tuesday."

Whitmire said surrounding governments including Montgomery and Fort Bend counties have offered their assistance. Local school district have closed for Monday and in Houston ISD classes are canceled for Monday and Tuesday.

"This storm has been unpredictable from day one. The conditions that you go to sleep tonight will not be the same as you you will wake up in the mornings," Whitmire said. He said the winds and rain will start getting very intense around midnight. "We will have street flooding."

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After the first outer band went through, Buffalo Bayou along Memorial was already filling up.
Photo by Jack Gorman
Metro service was scheduled to stop around 10 p.m. Sunday and resume around 8 a.m. Monday, conditions permitting. Most city employees were told to work from home on Monday.

Acting Police Chief Larry Satterwhite said "The simple fact is we're more prepared now than we ever have been for a storm like this. I think we have increased now to about 20 highway rescue trucks. And we have prepositioned around the city. We have hundreds of personnel who have been trained in swift water so we're much more prepared.

"How can the public help? Let me echo the mayor and the commissioner — to stay off the road. I will go a step further and ask the bars and nightclubs if you can help us out, if you close earlier you'll get your employees home and safe."

Extra attention will be focused on the western portion of the city which is expected to see the worst of the storm as it moves through. Officials said they hoped Beryl would move through the area quickly.

Precinct 2 County Commissioner Adrian Garcia said special attention will be paid to conditions along the San Jacinto River as well. "Wind will be our greatest threat and 10 o'clock tonight should be your no-go to be on the road."

Harris County Commissioner Tom Ramsey said they have 16 crews already in position in flood prone areas in his district.  Harris County Judge Lina Hildalgo was not present and it was reported she would have her own press conference later Sunday.

Fire Chief Samuel Peña said "We have additional water strike teams. We have additional high water vehicles." He said they're also teamed up with the city's Public Works Department to ensure that they are clearing debris from the streets. He also warned residents with generators to be careful that they don't fall victim to carbon monoxide poisoning.

Whitmire said he has been in constant contact with Acting Governor Dan Patrick and that the city has been coordinating efforts with the Department of Transportation, the State Emergency Center and the Department of Public Safety.

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Beryl poised for landing.
National Weather Service
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