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Hurricane Beryl leaves eight dead in Texas, including a “cheerful” Houston police officer

Hurricane Beryl leaves eight dead in Texas, including a “cheerful” Houston police officer

A Houston police officer was one of at least eight people who died when Hurricane Beryl devastated the Texas coast and parts of Louisiana. The victims were killed by fallen trees or caught in rising floodwaters.

As the Gulf states recover from the destruction caused by the Category 1 storm, Houston police confirmed that 54-year-old information security officer Russell Richardson was among the people killed in the storm on Monday.

Officials said Richardson, a father of four, was “caught in the rising floodwaters and tragically lost his life.” Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick had previously said the officer drowned in an underpass on his way to work.

Two of Richardson’s colleagues spoke to The Washington Post about him and said they never expected him to get into such a situation because he is very “risk averse.”

“It was really a shock. Russell is an information security officer, so he’s risk averse … and we were very surprised by what happened,” said Viet Dang, Richardson’s boss, describing him as a hard-working individual who was indispensable to the police force.

Richardson, an Air Force veteran, leaves behind a wife and four children, said John Coyne, deputy director of information technology for the Houston Police Department.

“He was a sociable, very nice and cheerful guy. He liked to talk about his children. Just on Thursday he showed me pictures of his daughter, whom he was allowed to take to Las Vegas for her birthday,” said Coyne.

A tree fell on a home in Harris County, Texas, killing a 74-year-old grandmother. AP
A boy floats in the floods caused by Hurricane Beryl on Monday. REUTERS

In addition to Richardson, Harris County officials confirmed that a 53-year-old man and a 74-year-old woman were killed in two separate incidents in the Houston area when trees fell on their homes.

The 74-year-old victim was later identified as grandmother Maria Laredo, who lived with her son and daughter-in-law.

The same fate befell another woman in Bossier Parish, Louisiana, when a tree fell on her home, according to the local sheriff’s office.

Officials in Montgomery County, Texas, confirmed the other three deaths, including a man who was also struck by a tree while driving a tractor and two people whose bodies were found in a tent in Magnolia.

Haley Loredo cries as she identifies her mother as one of the victims of Hurricane Beryl. AP
Many homes along the Texas coast were destroyed by the storm, which brought winds of over 80 miles per hour. Getty Images

Beryl, the earliest Category 5 hurricane ever recorded in the season, devastated a wide swath of the Caribbean. Although weakened from its peak strength, it still hit Texas with deadly force – bringing devastating flooding and 80 mph winds to the southeast coast.

More than 2.7 million homes in Texas were without power as the storm raged, and only about half had power restored by Wednesday.

Although the storm has been downgraded to a tropical depression, millions of Americans between Arkansas and Michigan are still under a flood warning as the storm moves northeast.

Houston resident Jack Reyna and his son are working to divert floodwaters in front of their home. Getty Images
Beryl is expected to move northeast, causing rainstorms in eleven states. NOAA satellites

According to the National Weather Service, up to 12 centimeters of rain is expected in the areas affected by Beryl. Severe weather is forecast for parts of western Kentucky, southern Illinois and Indiana.

The remnants of the storm are expected to bring rain to western New York State late Wednesday and into Thursday.

With post wires