Storm blew out 2,500 high-rise windows or skylights in downtown 'exclusion zone,' officials say

Monday, May 20, 2024
Storm blew out 2,500 downtown windows or skylights, officials say
Parts of downtown Houston were still blocked off Monday in what Mayor John Whitmire is calling an "exclusion zone" following last week's storm.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Parts of downtown Houston were still blocked off on Monday in what Mayor John Whitmire calls an "exclusion zone."

The closure is for sidewalk cleanup and repairs after windows were blown out in Thursday's destructive storm.

A three-block-by-three-block section - from Louisiana Street to Travis Street and McKinney Street to Polk Street - remained closed as crews cleaned up the broken glass and other debris the storm left behind.

That includes the area where Wells Fargo Plaza, the Kinder Morgan building, and a few other skyrises had their windows blown out.

A spokesperson for the Downtown District said they surveyed 17 building owners or managers over the weekend and learned that getting replacement windows is expected to take months. More than 2,500 windows or skylights were lost or damaged during the storm.

Crews boarded up most of the windows and planned to complete them by Wednesday.

Travis from Franklin to Commerce was also closed, where the bar Conejo Malo suffered a partial building collapse. Dramatic surveillance video shows a brick wall of the building crumble and push a car in the neighboring parking lot.

Orange tags from the city were placed on the building's front door. ABC13 contacted the City of Houston's Public Works Department to find out more about what will happen next.

Besides the cleanup, the other big problem facing hundreds of thousands is power outages.

SEE ALSO: Deadly Houston windstorm estimated to have caused $5B to $7B in damage, AccuWeather tells ABC13

The storm that pounded Houston, the fourth-largest U.S. city, caused between at least $5 billion worth of damage, AccuWeather preliminarily reports.

Houston fire officials said they responded to 18 heat-related calls on Sunday. Whitmire said they're looking into at least one assisted living center on the north side, where residents, many of whom are seniors or disabled, were left to fend for themselves during power outages.

"We have discovered at a couple of locations, Independence Hall on Burress Street, the residents were abandoned by management Thursday evening. They haven't had energy. They haven't had food. Their insulin has been ruined," Whitmire said.

"Because their beds are electronic, people that have needed dialysis and have had no way to get to their dialysis (or) make the phone calls, because their phones have been dead because we have no way to charge," Independence Hall resident Rosalie Juarez said.

At least one person from that complex was taken to the hospital for a dialysis-related issue, and another was taken to the hospital for dehydration.

The power is back on for them as of Monday morning.

It is an affordable housing complex, so the city is investigating its funding. ABC13 is working to contact the building managers.