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

Courtney Carpenter Image
Friday, May 17, 2024
Downtown Houston riddled with glass from shattered high-rise windows
"Downtown is a mess. It's dangerous due to the glass and the lack of traffic lights, so stay at home," Mayor John Whitmire warned after Thursday's destructive storms.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Downtown Houston got hit as hard or harder than any other area during Thursday evening's destructive storms.

Video shows countless high-rise buildings' windows blown out, with shattered glass and other debris scattered all over the roads below.

"I was on the 25th floor when it happened," one witness said. "We could literally feel the building shake. And then the ceiling tile was coming down."

ABC13 Reporter Courtney Carpenter surveyed the damage downtown on Friday morning. At the corner of Louisiana Street and McKinney Street, glass, tree limbs, and insulation littered the ground.

In other areas, street lights and signs dangled loose from wires.

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.

Windows were blown out in the Wells Fargo building, among several other high-rise buildings on the same street.

"Because it's glass everywhere. You can hear the crackle of the glass," a woman said, while standing amongst the debris.

The downtown Hyatt Regency hotel was another building that took a hit from the winds. Guests and staff ran for cover as rain and debris rained down inside the building's famed atrium. No injuries were reported.

"Really eerie, really eerie," another witness recalled.

Officials with the Hyatt Regency told ABC13 on Friday morning that a few skylights broke. A team is working on repairs, and in the meantime, the hotel and Shula's Steak House both remain fully operational. The hotel expects lobby cleanup to be completed on Friday.

A smaller building on Congress at Travis, that houses a bar, lost an entire brick wall on one side of the building. Wiring could be seen dangling out of the gaping hole, and bricks littered the parking lot. It's not clear if there was anyone in the building at the time when the storm struck.

There were a lot of people downtown when the storm blew through just after 6 p.m. Some people were getting off work, while others here at the Houston Astros game at Minute Maid Park.

Video from during the storm shows strong winds ripping through the streets.

Mayor John Whitmire asked businesses downtown to let their employees work from home on Friday so people can stay safe and crews can get started on cleanup efforts.

"Downtown is a mess. It's dangerous due to the glass and the lack of traffic lights, so stay at home. I can't emphasize that and repeat that enough -- stay at home tonight, stay at home tomorrow unless you're an essential worker," Whitmire said. "City of Houston employees, work from home. HISD school is closed, so we have an opportunity to go into a full recovery mode."

RELATED: 4 people dead after storms ripped through Houston, city officials say

At least one person is dead after a tree toppled ontop of a home in the Heights, according to officials.

In the initial hours after the storm, the mayor's office confirmed at least four people died as a result.

Recovery efforts had already began by Friday morning. Texas Department of Public Safety officials were working to secure the area.

After the wind and rain stopped and the damage started to become apparent, ABC13 Chief Forecaster David Tillman declared the situation to be the worst non-hurricane windstorm to hit the city of Houston in at least 25 years.

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