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Montgomery County Emergency Management Beryl Recovery Update 7/10/24

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, TX- County officials say the struggles created by Hurricane Beryl aren’t over, but things are improving, and they’re working to make life easier affected residents. Jason Millsaps, Executive Director of the Montgomery County Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security and Chief of Staff for Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough said Wednesday begam with about 79 percent of Montgomery County experiencing power outage.

“The largest number of outages is with Entergy, followed by CenterPoint.” Millsaps said. “Entergy is expecting to restore a substantial piece of that by 10 p.m. today (Wednesday).”

However, he says due to the significant tree damage around the county widespread outages could persist for several more days.

Millsaps said there will be some flooding issues in low-lying areas around Peach Creek and Caney Creek in East Montgomery County due to runoff from counties north of Montgomery County. The flooding will be in areas that typically experience high water when there’s a large amount of rain, and he says the flooding won’t be anything close to the scale of the flooding that occurred in May.

It’s not all bad news, this time.

“Thankfully, Lake Conroe is just a few inches above normal,” he said. “The lake release is less than 1,000 feet per second and we have no downstream flooding problems with the west fork of the San Jacinto River expected at this time.”

Furthermore, Millsap’s Office has requested the state provide ice, water, and other necessities, such as food. Some locally sourced items were distributed Wednesday morning at one location, but supplies from the state are expected to be available to residents Thursday at multiple locations throughout Montgomery County. (MCPR will post a list of locations and other details as soon as it becomes available)

While most residents will eventually fully recover from Hurricane Beryl, not everyone was so fortunate. An East County man was struck and killed by a falling tree while using his tractor as he and some of his neighbors moved debris from a roadway to make it passable. There was also a homeless couple in Magnolia sheltering in a tent during the storm when a tree fell on it, killing them both.

Falling tree deaths are tragic accidents no one can predict or always avoid, despite everyone knowing they’re a possibility. Conversely, some of the deaths, medical emergencies, and life-changing injuries occurring in the aftermath of Hurricane Beryl are completely avoidable. Millsaps says Tuesday was a record-setting day for Montgomery County Hospital District’s calls for service.

“Unfortunately, we are seeing a large number of heat-related calls, and that’s understandable, given the temperature and lack of power and air conditioning,” Millsaps said. “However, carbon monoxide calls are very avoidable if you’re following generator safety.”

“Do not put the generator in the home or garage, and keep the generator at least 20 feet from your home, from doors and windows if at all possible and make sure you’re not venting the exhaust in and around any inlet of air, if to the house, if there’s an open window or door. Proper generator safety can eliminate a lot of these carbon monoxide calls we’re getting.”

Another avoidable medical emergency that can end or negatively and permanently impact lives is improper handling of storm debris, believe it or not.

“If you are out doing things like cleaning the yard, and you happen to burn your vegetative debris, DO NOT USE GASOLINE – We’ve had a few incidents where people were burned due to use of gasoline and trying to burn debris.”

Millsaps reiterated the importance of not using gasoline and announced an option all county residents need to know. County Commissioners held an emergency session Tuesday and authorized OEM to begin engaging vendors to begin debris removal from rights of way throughout the county. The right-of-way is the area at the end of a resident’s driveway nearest to the street. Millsaps said his office would contact vendors by Thursday, and would work with the state to get the necessary permits as quickly as possible. Residents are encouraged to go to mctx.org and register for debris removal and start their part of the process.

“It’s not going to take days, it’s going to take weeks and months,” Millsaps said, “So you have time to get your debris to the road.”

It’s important to note, the county’s contractors WILL NOT pick up debris related to structural damage, or household garbage. This is only for vegetation debris, including tree limbs, trees, logs, or anything vegetative that fell during the wind event. If residents get the debris to the road, the county will get it picked up, he said.

“We just ask for the patience of the community as we have to bring in crews from all over the country to assist with this monumental task,” Millsaps said.

Social media, such as the OEM Facebook page, is the best place for information updates, he said.

Millsaps went on to say county leaders were asking people to conserve the fuel they have and not waste it unnecessarily, since supplies are limited, as are open locations.

It’s unnecessary to call in wires down unless they’re sparking or arcing, because it’s likely a repeat call. Responders are already inundated with reports of everything imaginable and calling in a line that’s been down for days is a waste of time and resources because it’s almost certainly already been reported, and probably more than once.

Please treat intersections with non-functional signal lights as a four-way stop and look every direction before proceeding forward through the intersection after stopping, he said.

He said the damage caused by Beryl was worse, by far, than Ike, but “We’re going to get through it.”

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