Houston Residents Tackle Damage Caused By Thursday Night's Severe Storms

A downed tree blocks the roadway from a driver trying to get through.
A downed tree blocks the roadway from a driver trying to get through. Photo by Violeta Álvarez
Many Houston area residents are having a rude awakening Friday morning after a line of strong storms settled into the region Thursday evening. The storms brought heavy rainfall, destructive straight-line winds and several possible tornadoes.

According to Space City Weather, these severe conditions — which began at about 6:30 p.m. — caused significant damage, including reports of downed power lines and traffic lights, fallen trees and debris, broken fences, gas leaks and shattered windows in buildings throughout downtown.
Houston Mayor John Whitmire gave a brief press conference Thursday night after the strong storms moved out of the Houston area. Whitmire confirmed that at least four people had died as a result of the inclement weather.

Whitmire compared the high winds, reaching up to 100 mph, brought in by the storms to those that occurred during Hurricane Ike, which hit Houston in 2008.
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This trampoline became a victim of the straight-line winds.
Photo by Jeff Balke
Roughly one million Harris County residents were without power Thursday evening, and about 750,000 of these customers remained without power on Friday morning. Whitmire said that, given the widespread nature of these outages, it could take up to 48 hours to fully restore power throughout Houston.

CenterPoint Energy posted updates on X, requesting that customers keep the call line open for emergencies and otherwise track the status of any weather-related outages online.
Most nearby school districts, including Houston ISD, Katy ISD, Cy-Fair ISD, and Spring Branch ISD canceled Friday's school day. The University of Houston Downtown also told students and faculty to stay home on Friday.

According to a press release, all classes and campus activities — both in-person and online — were temporarily suspended. Only essential workers were asked to report to work on Friday to begin cleaning up any damage to the campus.

The university expected to return to normal operations on Saturday, May 18, but recommended that students, staff and faculty monitor any updates. The school districts closed on Friday and announced that they would be opened back up by Monday, May 20.

Houston METRO took to X to warn those who had to go to work on Friday that the system’s HOV and HOT lanes would be closed, park-and-ride bus services would not be available and shuttle services would be available to riders taking rail lines with debris on the tracks.
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo wrote in a statement Thursday night that the county’s precincts, engineering department and Houston personnel would work overnight to clear debris from the roadways.

Hidalgo added that the extent of the damage caused by the storms would become clearer as cleanup efforts continued.
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Thursday's rainfall caused high water to collect in some areas.
Photo by Eric Turnquist
More rainfall is expected Friday morning and afternoon in the region, particularly between I-10 and the coastline. However, the worst inclement weather has passed, according to meteorologists. Several indicated that Thursday night's storms brought some of the worst conditions they've seen in years to Houston.
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Faith Bugenhagen is on staff as a news reporter for The Houston Press, assigned to cover the Greater-Houston area.