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Beryl hits Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula as Texas authorities urge coastal residents to prepare – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

On Friday, Beryl struck Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula after making landfall near the resort town of Tulum, knocking down trees and cutting off power. Meanwhile, authorities in Texas urged coastal residents to prepare for the storm as it moves toward the Gulf of Mexico.

Beryl hit Mexico as a Category 2 hurricane, but weakened to a tropical storm as it moved across the peninsula. The U.S. National Hurricane Center expects Beryl to regain hurricane strength once it enters the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. It is expected to move toward northeastern Mexico and southern Texas, an area that was hit by Tropical Storm Alberto just a few weeks ago.

Beryl caused destruction in Jamaica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Barbados this week after becoming the first Atlantic storm to become a Category 5 hurricane. Three people were killed in Grenada, three in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, three in Venezuela and two in Jamaica, officials said.

Before landfall, Mexican authorities had relocated some tourists and residents from low-lying areas around the Yucatan Peninsula. Nevertheless, tens of thousands stayed to brave the strong winds and storm surge. Much of the area around Tulum is just a few meters above sea level.

As the storm came ashore, the city's power supply failed. Howling winds set off car alarms throughout the city. Wind and rain were still lashing the coastal city and surrounding areas on Friday morning. Army brigades roamed the streets of the tourist town, clearing downed trees and power lines.

After watching Beryl sweep through the Caribbean, 37-year-old Lucía Nagera Balcaza was among those stocking up on food and hiding in their homes.

“Thank God we woke up this morning and everything was fine,” she said. “The roads are a disaster, but we're out here cleaning up.”

Although no deaths or injuries were reported, nearly half of Tulum remains without electricity, said Laura Velázquez, national coordinator of Mexican civil protection.

The storm's center was about 60 miles northwest of the town of Dzilam on Friday afternoon and was moving west-northwest at 15 mph, Mexican authorities said. Beryl had maximum sustained winds of 70 mph.

A man walks on the beach in Tulum, Mexico, after Hurricane Beryl, Friday, July 5, 2024. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

In Texas, some counties have already issued voluntary evacuation orders for low-lying areas. City officials on the Texas coast in Corpus Christi said they distributed 10,000 sandbags in less than two hours on Friday, exhausting their supply.

“This is a determined storm that is still strong,” said Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick.

Patrick has declared a state of emergency for 39 counties as a precautionary measure so that state and local authorities can begin planning and contracting for relief efforts.

The head of the state's emergency management agency, Nim Kidd, said oil companies have begun withdrawing their employees from drilling rigs along the coast that could be in the path of the storm.

While many on the Yucatan Peninsula were breathing deeply, Jamaica and other hurricane-ravaged islands were still in distress. As of Friday morning, 55 percent of Jamaica was still without power and most of the country was without running water, according to government figures.

Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness promised swift assistance to residents affected by Hurricane Beryl after visiting one of the island's worst-hit areas, the southern parish of St. Elizabeth, on Thursday afternoon.

“I know some of you are experiencing discomfort and displacement and I want to assure you that the government will act as quickly as possible to provide you with the assistance you need,” he said.

Before the storm reached Mexico, authorities had set up emergency shelters in schools and hotels. When winds began to blow across Tulum's beaches on Thursday, officials drove along the beach with quads and megaphones, urging people to leave. Authorities evacuated beach hotels. Even sea turtle eggs were removed from beaches threatened by the storm surge.

Tourists also took precautions. Lara Marsters, 54, a therapist from Boise, Idaho, who is visiting Tulum, said she filled up empty water bottles at the faucet.

“We will stay safe and secure,” she said.

Earlier this week, the hurricane damaged or destroyed 95 percent of homes on two islands in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, capsized fishing boats in Barbados, ripped off roofs and caused power outages in Jamaica.

On Union Island, part of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, a man who identified himself as Captain Baga described the effects of the storm, including that he had filled two 7,570-litre rubber water tanks in preparation.

“I tied them on six sides and watched the wind lift the tanks and carry them away – filled with water,” he said on Thursday. “I'm a sailor and I would never have believed that the wind could do what I saw. If anyone had ever told me that the wind could do something like that, I would have told them they were lying!”

There were rubbles of houses lying all over the island that looked as if they had exploded.

Myers reported from Kingston, Jamaica. Associated Press writers Renloy Trail in Kingston, Jamaica; Mark Stevenson and Megan Janetsky in Mexico City; Coral Murphy Marcos in San Juan, Puerto Rico; Lucanus Ollivierre in Union Island, St. Vincent and the Grenadines; and Jim Vertuno in Austin, Texas, contributed to this report.