Houston Reels From Deadly Storms That Caused 4 Deaths, Widespread Damage

Severe thunderstorms packing hurricane-force winds ripped through the Houston area on Thursday evening leaving a trail of destruction and at least four people dead. The storms also caused widespread power outages affecting more than 1 million customers across southeastern Texas.

Houston Mayor John Whitmire compared the storm’s intensity to Hurricane Ike saying it brought “100 mph winds” and caused “considerable damage downtown.” Two fatalities were attributed to falling trees while a third was caused by a wind-toppled crane according to Houston Fire Chief Samuel Pena.

The storm’s ferocious winds blew out windows in high-rise buildings uprooted trees and brought down power lines. Officials urged residents to stay home and off the roads due to the extensive debris and power outages.

At the height of the storm more than 800000 customers in the Houston metro area were without electricity. As the line of storms moved eastward into Louisiana it battered New Orleans with 84 mph gusts leaving an additional 200000 customers in the dark.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo acknowledged that many residents “lived through and are still living through scary situations” due to the storm. She said damage assessments were ongoing and that “all cards are on the table” to ensure a swift recovery.

The severe weather also disrupted air travel grounding flights at Houston’s two major airports. The Houston Independent School District announced the closure of all schools on Friday in the wake of the storm.