EF-1 tornado confirmed near Cypress, another tornado strikes SW region of Waller Co., NWS says

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Saturday, May 18, 2024
Recovery for Thursday storms in Houston will take weeks, officials say
In a rare joint press conference, Mayor Whitmire and Harris Co. Judge Lina Hidalgo united to give an update on the impact of storms in Houston on Friday.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The National Weather Service - Houston/Galveston confirmed that there were 100 mph straight-line winds in downtown Houston, while 90 mph winds rocked Baytown during Thursday night's destructive storm.

The NWS team also confirmed it was an EF-1 tornado near Cypress with peak winds of 110 mph. The length and width of the path are expected to be shared soon.

Additionally, the NWS team also verified that there was another tornado that struck the southwest portion of Waller County, Texas.

Based on the storm's path length and intensity, the ABC13 Weather Team has determined this was a Derecho event, which, according to the NWS, is a widespread, long-lived wind storm associated with a band of rapidly moving showers or thunderstorms.

As a result, President Biden issued an expedited major disaster declaration, allowing FEMA to quickly approve individual assistance in addition to Small Business Administration low-interest loans.

Officials told ABC13 that the death toll has risen to seven. Four people were killed in the city of Houston. A woman and her pet in the Cypress area were killed in a mobile home fire.

Mayor John Whitmire and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo provided an update on the impacts Friday morning, noting that recovery would likely take weeks, not days.

Downtown Houston was the center of damaging winds and heavy rainfall. Videos posted on social media showed windows being smashed and falling onto the streets, which are not walkable due to shattered glass.

The following day, tree limbs and insulation could be seen strewn on two popular Houston streets.

RELATED: Downtown Houston riddled with glass after storm tore windows out of high-rise buildings

Hidalgo said they are still determining the extent of the damage and when power will be restored. CenterPoint Energy reported more than 700,000 customers were without power at one point on Friday morning.

At least 10 transmission lines were down, including seven in Harris County. The organization said it might take weeks to restore power, just like after Hurricane Ike in 2008.

On Thursday evening, ABC13's Chief Forecaster David Tillman said this was the worst non-hurricane situation that hit the city of Houston in the last 25 years.

The city also announced the following cool centers would be open for Saturday, May 18:

8 a.m. - 7 p.m.

  • Metropolitan Multi-Service Center, 1745 W. Gray St., Houston, TX 77019
  • Acres Homes Multi-Service Center, 6719 West Montgomery Road, Houston, TX 77091
  • Sunnyside Health and Multi-Service Center, 4510 Reed Road, Houston, TX 77051
  • Kingwood Community Center, 4102 Rustic Woods Drive, Kingwood, TX 77345
  • Woodlands Community Center, 212 Parkview St., Houston, TX 77009

10 a.m. - 7 p.m.

  • Bayland Community Center, 6400 Bissonnet St., Houston, TX 77074
  • Tracy Gee Community Center, 3599 Westcenter Drive, Houston, TX 77042
  • Radack Community Center, 18650 Clay Road, Houston, TX 77084
  • Weerley Community Center, 8440 Greenhouse Road, Cypress, TX 77433

Harris County Commissioner Lesley Briones also announced locations for cooling, charging, and food and water distribution.

Hidalgo said city leaders are also coordinating with the Red Cross to start damage assessments and to check on those who are "medically fragile."

"The next few weeks are going to be hard," Hidalgo said.

Whitmire said there are nearly 2,500 inoperable street lights and asked everyone to avoid downtown Houston unless they were essential workers.

The mayor continued to stress how first responders are "stretched thin" and asked all to help by avoiding the roads.

SEE ALSO: Destructive storms leave path of damage across Houston area

Windows were blown out and shattered glass was visible in the streets after powerful winds tore through downtown.

"Everyone is doing everything that they can," Whitmire said.

Officials said they are working on asking the government for assistance amid what they're calling a "multi-day event."

Governor Greg Abbott of Texas sent a statement about the deadly storms.

"Our hearts are with the families and loved ones of those who tragically lost their lives due to severe weather in Southeast Texas, and we remain in contact with local officials to do everything we can to protect Texans and help our communities recover," Governor Abbott said. "As severe weather sweeps through the Southeast region of the state, Texas continues to deploy resources and assistance to impacted communities to ensure the safety of Texans. Last month, I prepared state emergency response resources and issued a disaster declaration. I have since amended that declaration to ensure every community threatened by dangerous weather conditions would have access to necessary resources. The Texas Division of Emergency Management continues to support impacted communities with immediate and long-term recovery resource needs. The Public Utility Commission of Texas is coordinating with utility providers to restore power to affected areas as quickly as possible. I encourage Texans who sustained storm damage to report it online atdamage.tdem.texas.govwhen it is safe to do so. I thank the emergency response personnel who are working around-the-clock to protect their fellow Texans as we respond to this severe weather event."