Hurricane Beryl Death Toll Rises to 7, Generator Misuse Is Blamed for 2 Deaths

Repair and recovery crews are battling through extreme heat to reconnect services for 1 million people.
Hurricane Beryl Death Toll Rises to 7, Generator Misuse Is Blamed for 2 Deaths
Jack Reyna and his son work to drain floodwater in their neighborhood after Hurricane Beryl swept through the area in Houston on July 8, 2024. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)
T.J. Muscaro
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Seven people are confirmed dead, and millions are without power as Texas Gulf Coast communities get to work on recovery efforts and damage assessment the day after Hurricane Beryl roared through.

They are doing so while also being under a heat advisory.

Acting Texas Gov. Dan Patrick held a press briefing on July 9 with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Emergency Management Chief Nim Kidd, and other government leaders to discuss recovery efforts after the southeast corner of the state was rocked with hurricane-force winds, flooding, and several damaging tornadoes.

Mr. Kidd said two of the deaths were a caused by carbon monoxide poisoning, and he warned against mishandling gas-powered generators to power their homes. He reminded people that carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas.

“If you have a generator that you’re running, please make sure it is far away from the area [where] you’re living and sleeping,” he said.

“These are preventable deaths.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Kidd said, there were concerns for millions of people without power, “especially amid the heat advisory declared for most of the affected counties.”

On July 8, more than 2.7 million people in southeast Texas were left without power after Hurricane Beryl, more than the number of outages from Hurricane Ike.

“With the support of nearly 12,000 field resources, we expect to restore 1 million impacted customers by the end of day on ... July 10,” Texas power company CenterPoint Energy announced on X.

Mr. Patrick said he had been in contact with CenterPoint multiple times throughout the day, urging them to work as quickly and safely as possible.

“We know what that’s like for the citizens of Texas,” he said. “It’s tough to be in the heat. It’s tough not to be able to refrigerate anything and have food.”

CenterPoint is facing criticism for its level of preparedness after it admitted not pre-staging in the Houston area.

Mr. Patrick said the company would have to answer to the public and the public utility commission, but he wanted it to focus on getting the job done first.

“Right now, we just want to get the power up,” he said.

“I want them to be on the ground in the buckets trimming trees and get the power up.”

Mr. Patrick confirmed that he had spoken with President Joe Biden and had requested a FEMA emergency declaration.

FEMA will cover all costs for “Category A,” which covers debris cleanup costs, and “Category B,” which covers emergency protective measures.

This relief, Mr. Patrick said, would cover most of the necessary costs and help expedite the region’s recovery.

“The president and his team have been working around the clock for the past two days to ensure Texas has the resources and tools needed to respond to Beryl and keep Americans safe,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said during the July 9 White House press briefing.

Mr. Cruz said that he and other Texas lawmakers will be pushing for the disaster declaration to be issued immediately and will work with state officials, county judges, and local officials to ensure federal resources are available for rebuilding.

“Power, again, is our No. 1 priority,” Mr. Kidd said. “Secondary to that is establishing cooling centers and helping with generators for cooling centers if we need to.”

He said the third thing to get Texas on the road to recovery, is clearing away debris.

Born and raised in Tampa, Florida, T.J. Muscaro covers the Sunshine State, America's space industry, the theme park industry, and family-related issues.