A 53-year-old man and a 74-year-old woman were killed in the storm in Texas.

Tropical Storm Barrell’s strong winds and torrential rain killed at least two people, shut down oil ports, grounded hundreds of flights and left more than 2 million homes and businesses without power in southeast Texas on Monday. done

Barrel, the season’s oldest Category 5 hurricane on record, weakened to a hurricane after moving the Texas coastal town of Matagorda to Houston with dangerous storm surges and heavy rain, the US National Hurricane Center (NHC) said. .

The storm, which was expected to weaken rapidly as it moved inland, took a destructive path through Jamaica, Grenada, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines last week. It has killed at least 12 people in the Caribbean and Texas.

In Texas, a 53-year-old man and a 74-year-old woman were killed Monday when trees fell on their homes in the Houston area, according to Harris County officials.

The state’s energy industry, the nation’s largest producer of U.S. oil and natural gas, braced for the effects of the barrel as the powerful storm slowed refining activity and prompted the evacuation of some production sites.

“Dangerous storms and heavy rains continue across parts of Texas. Destructive winds along the coast, with strong winds moving inland,” the NHC said even as the barrel began to lose strength.

After warnings that it could be a deadly storm for communities in its path, residents rushed to board up windows and stock up on fuel and other essentials.

Before dawn, strong winds and torrential rain lashed cities and towns such as Galveston, Sargent, Lake Jackson and Freeport, television footage showed. By late morning, several downed trees blocked roads in Houston as the worst of the storm passed, with sustained winds and flooding on some roads, leaving lanes on major highways impassable. The city closed off flood-prone areas.

In a video posted on social media by a local ABC station in Houston, crews using a fire truck with a life jacket and ladder rescue a man from a truck on a flooded stretch of freeway.

At a late-morning press conference, Houston Mayor John Whitmire urged people to shelter in place. He noted that flood waters exceeded 10 inches (25 cm) in most parts of the city.

“We’re literally getting calls all over Houston right now asking for first responders to come to the rescue in desperate life-saving situations,” Whitmire said.

The storm became a Category 1 hurricane as it crossed the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico before making landfall. But the NHC said it is now expected to weaken rapidly before becoming a tropical depression on Tuesday as it moves across land, as hurricanes typically do.

The barrel was expected to barrel over eastern parts of the state during the day before moving into the Lower Mississippi Valley and Ohio Valley on Tuesday and Wednesday, the NHC said.

“People in the path of Barrel’s path should not let their guard down this week,” Acqua Weather said in a statement, warning of possible storm surges as far north as Ohio and possible flooding as far north as Detroit.

A White House official said President Joe Biden is being regularly updated on the storm, while administration officials are in close contact with state and local counterparts.

According to the Biden administration, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Coast Guard had already deployed personnel to help with search and rescue efforts, according to the Biden administration. It was also prepared to boost response efforts.

Schools said they would close as the storm approaches. Airlines canceled more than 1,300 flights, and authorities ordered evacuations in coastal cities. Small businesses in Houston, including package delivery services and chiropractors, delayed opening or closed Monday.

More than 2 million homes and businesses in Texas have lost power, according to data from local utilities and PowerOutage.us.

Several counties in southeast Texas — including Houston, where many U.S. energy companies are headquartered — are under flood warnings as thunderstorms dumped up to 12 inches (30 cm) of rain in some areas.

Resident Gary Short said he was most concerned about possible flooding, which the NHC warned was expected in parts of Texas by Monday night.

“I’m more worried about the rain,” he said while filling a petrol can at a service station on Sunday. “Besides, not too worried, just getting ready.”

The shutdown of major oil shipping ports around Corpus Christi, Galveston and Houston ahead of the storm could disrupt crude oil exports, along with crude oil deliveries to refineries and motor fuel deliveries from plants. can

Some oil producers, including Shell and Chevron, evacuated personnel from their Gulf of Mexico offshore production platforms ahead of the storm.

Marathon Petroleum Corp.’s refinery in Texas City, Texas, was affected by a power outage amid the storm on Monday, the company said in a statement.

(Other than the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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