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Beryl shocks Southeast Texas: ‘I didn’t think we were gonna make it’

AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Jimmy Beal knew he was in trouble when he watched the storm chasers race away. By the time he realized Beryl was more than he bargained for, it was too late to leave.

“I didn’t think we were going to make it,” he said the next morning. “I did a lot of praying last night, trust me.”

Beal has lived on Surfside for 35 years, but he said he has never experienced a storm like Beryl. He bore the full brunt of Beryl’s landfall just steps from the ocean — from the deck built out of his beam-elevated house, he could throw a rock 20 yards into the Gulf.

The rain soaked his carpet through the closed windows and sand from the beach 50 feet below sits on his windowsills. His roof and patio are torn, and the mobile home under the stilts is destroyed beyond repair. Sunday night was his last in that house for a while.

“I’ve never seen the wind blow that hard here. Never,” he said. “That was no Cat One. I’ve been through hurricanes before. I ain’t never felt this house shake like that.”

Beal suspects his experience mirrors the reaction of many of his neighbors — both on his street and across the region. Left with only days to prepare both mentally and physically, and the optimistic perception that Beryl was “just” a Category One hurricane, many Southeast Texans were caught off guard.

Just days prior, the storm was a distant concern. By Monday morning, she had killed at least three people in the Houston area and knocked out power for more than 2 million more. Water once again drowned much of Houston’s roads and bayous, and the word is still out on how many millions of dollars the baby hurricane will incur.

In Beal’s view, Beryl was a lesson.

“This wasn’t supposed to be that bad. Well guess what — it was,” he said. That was my mistake, I should have left… I’ll never make that mistake again.”