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Mayor Whitmire: "Stay Home. Stay Off the Roads"

Fire Chief Samuel Peña and Mayor John Whitmire at Monday morning's press conference.
Fire Chief Samuel Peña and Mayor John Whitmire at Monday morning's press conference. Screenshot

"Most of the city is experiencing the dirty side of a very serious hurricane," Mayor John Whitmire said as he began this morning's 11 o'clock press conference on the progress of Beryl. He and other departmental officials repeatedly urged residents to stay off the roads.

"Our traffic lights are damaged. It's going to take hours if not days to get them back in operation," Whitmire said. He said if drivers had to be out, they need to slow down as they go through intersections. But again, it would be better to stay off the roads. "Shelter in place."

Generators have failed at a number of locations including the George R. Brown Convention Center and the city's BARC center for animals, he said.

"Most of the city's multi service centers are without power. We know we have a lot of infrastructure challenges in this city."

Most of the bayous are swollen and being monitored. Some such as Brays Bayou is out of its banks.  There's a very serious amount of water in excess of 10 inches in most of our city."

Officials said the city's efforts right now are concentrated on saving lives and that assessment and debris cleanup will come later. Whitmire asked residents to exercise patience and mentioned that flights were not going out at the city's two airports.

First responders are risking their lives to save people, Whitmire said, adding that this morning these rescuers saved a person's life at Highway 288 and Holly Hall. He said that in the last hour they had received more than 400 calls for help.

We had a fire fatality early this morning," Fire Chief Samuel Peña said, adding that it was still under investigation whether this was storm related or due to an electrical malfunction. 

There will be another briefing this afternoon, Whitmire said, at which time he hopes to have a better assessment of the city's needs.

Additional resources are coming from the county and the state, Whitmire said, adding that he has been contacted by the White House. CenterPoint is bringing in thousands of addition personnel, he said.

"Getting the power back on is one of our highest priorities," Whitmire said. "I do not have power. We're all in this together."
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