Widespread power outages, flooding, downed trees and signs made up most of the damage across Galveston County received as Hurricane Nicholas passed through the area last night and early this morning.
Relief that the storm hadn't caused catastrophic flooding and surprise the storm brought heavy winds were recurring sentiments Tuesday morning among officials across the county.
In League City, which was one of the hardest hit areas during Hurricane Harvey in 2017, there were no reports of flooded houses as of Monday morning despite rising water in Clear Creek, Magnolia Creek and the bayous, Mayor Pat Hallisey said. Downtown Galveston also was spared major flooding. The island experienced flooding in low-lying areas and crews were racing to restore power to thousands of people and businesses across the county.
“I can’t even tell you what a relief that is,” Hallisey said about League City.
Hallisey credited the lack of flooding to the drainage improvement projects that have been underway since Harvey in 2017, when more than 8,000 houses in the city flooded.
Although Nicholas brought significantly less rain than Harvey, which dumped nearly 50 inches in some parts of the county, the lack of flooding is evidence the improvements over the past four years have helped, Hallisey said.
“I give all the credit to our city team that’s stayed on that,” he said.
La Marque Mayor Keith Bell also had not received any reports of flooded houses Monday morning, which was the result of the city working diligently to clear drainage ditches the weekend before Nicholas hit, he said.
“That helped us out tremendously,” he said. “So I would attribute it to that and the fact that we were not as saturated, our grounds were not as saturated because we had not had as much rain as we had in recent years.”
Most of the damage in La Marque were felled trees and power lines, which crews were working to repair Tuesday morning, Bell said. He urged residents to stay inside unless they had to go out.
“We still have trees down that make roads impassable,” he said. “We still have power lines down that are very dangerous.”
In Hitchcock, city crews worked last night and early this morning to remove limbs and trees that had fallen into the roadways, Mayor Chris Armacost said. He had not received any reports of flooded houses Monday morning.
"Huge shout out to our city crews staying on top of things during this storm from the police department, wastewater and water plant staff and everyone in between," Armacost said.
In Galveston, streets in low-lying areas that typically flood experienced heavy street flooding, Mayor Craig Brown said.
"What caught us a little by surprise was the speed of the winds," Brown said. "They were a little heavier with more force than we thought."
Galveston residents also experienced power outages, and CenterPoint Energy officials told Brown power would be restored to most of the customers by Tuesday afternoon.
Street crews had already been sent out Tuesday morning to remove debris from the streets, Brown said. He asked residents to continue to stay inside as things improved.
"We are asking residents unless they have to be at a certain location to stay in their homes, let the waters recede, let the winds die down," Brown said. "We're not expecting heavy rainfall anymore."
For many in Galveston, the storm could have been a lot worse.
“I’m relieved it wasn’t more than it was,” said Michael Ragsdale, owner of Big House Antiques, 2212 Mechanic St.
Ragsdale was out Tuesday morning picking up the pieces of a wooden sign that had hung outside his neighboring business, Nautical Antiques & Tropical Decor. The winds blew over the sign, which smashed, he said.
Ragsdale marveled by how dry the sidewalks had stayed all night.
“Other than a few leaks in the building, we’re high and dry,” Ragsdale said.
Outside their home off 45th Street, Karla and Jayson Levy picked up palm and tree debris.
“A couple of trees went toward the west from the breeze,” Karla Levy said.
The couple was waiting for power to come back on and assessing a water line break and the water damage in their attic. They hadn’t closed the big shutters in their attic, so water had gotten inside, they said.
“We’re hoping we’re going to get power back,” Karla Levy said.
Some businesses, however, sustained significant damage.
Elad Amsalem, owner of Beach Break Surf Shop, 2402 Ave. Q, walked into this shop this morning to find a two broken windows.
Glass shards were scattered on the floor of the shop and covered the wet T-shirts on the shelves. Displays of key chains and souvenirs lay toppled over on the ground and receipts were scattered on the floor, blown by the wind.
“I didn’t think it would be that crazy,” Amsalem said.
He thinks a sign from a nearby business that blew away crashed into the window.
Amsalem has had his business for almost 30 years and didn’t have issues during Hurricane Ike in 2008 or Harvey in 2017, he said.
As he spoke with The Daily News, Amsalem discovered a few leaks in the back room.
“All my stuff’s going to get wet,” he said as he pulled boxes out of the way. “It’s all T-shirts. It’s probably going to stink.”