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Edouard brings needed rain to Texas

Power outages, scattered flooding reported as second tropical system in as many weeks crosses into Texas.


"We'll get out and do assessments as soon as the storm has passed. . . I think we'll find we were more than prepared"

—Jack Colley, Tx Emergency Management

Residents living on Bolivar Peninsula northeast of Galveston greeted the second tropical system in two years Tuesday when Tropical Storm Edouard made landfall between Sabine Pass and High Island.

A number of homes on the peninsula along Galveston Bay were damaged and winds knocked down branches causing scattered power outages, but the wind damage was not as bad as that inflicted by Hurricane Humberto last September.

Elsewhere the storm proved to be little more than an inconvenience as many offices and stores were closed.

Gusts of wind in the 50 to 70 mile per hour range and heavy rains shooed tourists from the beach retreats in Galveston. Local television stations reported that some 6,000 homes along the whole of the Gulf Coast were without power on Tuesday morning.

"It isn't anything major," said Beverly Antilley, volunteer coordinator for the Texas Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.

The Annual Conference activated a team of volunteers in Port Arthur, TX, on Monday so they would be ready to move in to help with clean up after the storm. Antilley said she's certain they will have some storm damaged trees to cut up and some debris to remove in areas.

"This is not one of the really bad ones," she said.

The storm quickly weakened to a tropical depression by Tuesday night, bringing much-needed rain to the area and flooding some neighborhood streets.

According to the Texas Emergency Management Division, there were no mandatory evacuations ordered for any residents anywhere along the Gulf Coast. Still, residents of the barrier islands evacuated in large numbers because of high tides of about five feet above normal that accompanied the storm.

Jack Colley, chief of the emergency management division, said his organization had expected Edouard to make landfall as a hurricane. The much weaker storm has made their response much easier, he said.

According to Colley, relief organizations were at the ready to help, but their response was likely to be scaled back due to the lack of force with which the storm had hit. He said the American Red Cross was ready to open 20 shelters as soon as the storm passed, the Texas Baptist Men were ready to open at least a pair of kitchens, and the Health and Human Services Division had 40 trucks of water and 38 trucks of ice ready to go. He said the military was on standby with 1,200 troops ready to move in as needed and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Division was waiting with 40 vehicles to help with search and rescue operations if needed.

"We'll get out and do assessments as soon as the storm has passed," Colley said. "I think we'll find we were more than prepared."

The storm hit at the height of tourist season in Galveston, but tourism officials said many vacationers had planned to stay in hopes that the area would not be hit as hard as South Padre Island was by Hurricane Dolly on July 23.

Before Edouard ever made landfall, Texas Gov. Rick Perry issued a disaster declaration for 17 Texas counties and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal declared a statewide emergency.

The storm skirted the Louisiana coast, making for a blustery day in New Orleans on Monday but caused no other problems, officials reported. The storm raised tides along the coast, pushing water into bayous and some low-lying yards in the Terrebonne Parish communities of Dulac and Chauvin. Terrebonne emergency preparedness director Jerry Richard said only minor damage was reported and no homes were flooded.

Though Edouard was not as powerful as officials had expected, the tropical storm still forced oil and gas companies in the Gulf of Mexico to evacuate workers from 23 production platforms and six rigs, according to the U.S. Minerals Management Service. Marathon Oil shut down a refinery that processes about 76,000 barrels of crude oil a day in Texas City, about 10 miles north of Galveston. The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port temporarily suspended the offloading of tankers in the Gulf but said customers weren't affected because of pipeline deliveries.

Residents and visitors to the Gulf Coast are, for the most part, riding the storm out where they are. Few evacuated and few needed to do so. The storm is expected to do little damage, but assessment teams will spread across the area on Wednesday to see what was wrought by the storm.

"All in all, I think we're good to go," said Antilley. "For today (Tuesday) we have a day off. Tomorrow, we'll all get back to work."

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