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Beryl made landfall in Texas as a Category 1 hurricane

JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:

Flooding, high winds, heavy rain and tornadoes - that is what's been hitting coastal and inland Texas after Hurricane Beryl came ashore this morning with 80 mph winds. It has since weakened to a tropical storm as it moves to the north toward Arkansas. Several people have died, and more than 2.7 million homes and businesses are without power. NPR's Greg Allen is in Matagorda, where the eye of the storm first crossed land. Hi, Greg.

GREG ALLEN, BYLINE: Hi, Juana.

SUMMERS: So Greg, just tell us what you're hearing and seeing where you are.

ALLEN: Well, you know, yes, Matagorda is about 100 miles southeast of Galveston on the Texas coast - to orient folks - where the - this is where, of course, the hurricane came ashore. This is a fishing community, and people here took the storm very seriously. Just about everyone who lived in low areas near the bay evacuated. In town, though, there were some who stayed, like Otto Barrera (ph). He's a guy we talked to today. He says he rode out the storm in his RV.

OTTO BARRERA: Just a lot of heavy wind - yeah, we lost power, I guess it was around 2 o'clock. And a lot of downed trees. A lot of good breeze from the side (ph) of the water, but other than that, we did - I fared pretty good. I can't speak for everybody, but I did pretty good.

ALLEN: Yeah. Yeah. And did you think about evacuating? You know, they were probably telling everybody they should.

BARRERA: No. I've lived in Louisiana over 20 years. I rode out Katrina and every one after that. So it's not - it wasn't bad.

SUMMERS: Tell us, Greg, how bad is the damage there?

ALLEN: Well, you know, considering that a Category 1 hurricane passed through here with 80 mph-plus winds, this area really isn't in bad shape. We saw relatively little - just minor wind damage when we drove around today, mostly downed trees and a lot of debris on the roads. Power is out for most of the county here today.

One concern is that there's so much debris that was washed in by the storm surge that it blocked access to the beach, where many people live in homes, and there's an RV park. Crews were out today using a front loader to clear debris from the road so that people can get out there and see how bad the damage is there.

SUMMERS: Right. And do you have a sense at this point of how much cleanup is going to be needed there?

ALLEN: Well, the big concern right now is power, cell phone coverage and internet - of course, these modern things that we all can't do without. Most of the houses we saw seemed to have weathered the storm with relatively minor damage.

Don Simon (ph) said Beryl knocked in his garage door. He lives in Matagorda. But he feels he got off lucky. We ran into him at a dockside shack he owns with some friends that's right on Matagorda Bay. It took a severe battering in the storm.

DON SIMON: We just took all the stuff out of the building and took the screens off and raised the windows 'cause we knew it was going to be a tide surge, and they said - I don't know - 5 or 6 foot. So I'm sure you see how high it was.

ALLEN: Yeah. I mean, how high do you think it is? Yeah. Oh, it's up to the windows.

SIMON: Oh, it broke some windows, yeah. It broke some windows out on that side.

ALLEN: Simon says he's confident that he and his friends can patch up their shack, though, and soon be back there to drink beer and watch the sun go down.

SUMMERS: Greg, I want to end by asking you, is there a sense that Texas might have gotten off pretty lightly from Hurricane Beryl?

ALLEN: This storm surprised forecasters from the beginning, spinning up to the earliest Category 5 hurricane ever recorded when it hit the Windward Islands in the Caribbean. It was far weaker than that when it approached the Texas coast. But with the extremely warm ocean temperatures in the Gulf, forecasters were concerned that the storm could intensify rapidly. And that's something we've seen in many other hurricanes in recent years.

It ended up, in the end, as a Cat 1 instead of a Category 2 storm or higher. And Beryl also did cause some significant flooding in Houston and in east Texas as it headed north. But it's worth noting that this is only July, and peak hurricane season is still two months away.

SUMMERS: NPR's Greg Allen in Matagorda, Texas. Greg, thanks.

ALLEN: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

As NPR's Miami correspondent, Greg Allen reports on the diverse issues and developments tied to the Southeast. He covers everything from breaking news to economic and political stories to arts and environmental stories. He moved into this role in 2006, after four years as NPR's Midwest correspondent.