The death toll rose to seven Saturday from storms that ripped through Texas this week, with a half million people still struggling through mass power outages that caused traffic chaos and sewage overflow and raised new health threats as near-triple digit temperatures were expected to roll in.

Intense thunderstorms slammed into the Houston area Thursday accompanied by a “derecho,” a widespread, long-lasting windstorm that had gusts up to 100 mph, blowing out windows of high-rise buildings, tearing down trees and breaking apart high-voltage power transmission towers.

Severe thunderstorms tore through Houston on Thursday, killing at least seven people and causing widespread damage and power outages. The Washington Post via Getty Images

Over a million were originally in the dark and at least 500,000 remained without power Saturday. Some of the outages could last weeks, according to reports.

Tornados touched down in two Texas counties and in southeast Louisiana, which also got rocked with strong winds and power outages.

Conejo Malo, a club in downtown Houston, was severely damaged during Thursday’s storm. The Washington Post via Getty Images

Among those killed were an 85-year-old woman whose home was struck by lightening and caught fire and a 60-year-old man attempting to power his oxygen tank with his car, according to Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez.

Two others were killed by fallen trees, including a 31-year-old pregnant mother of four.

A third person died in a crane accident, according to officials.

School districts canceled classes for more than 400,000 students, government offices closed and officials urged people to avoid the downtown area and stay off roads. Many were flooded or lined with downed power lines and malfunctioning traffic lights, at least 2,500 of which were out, according to Houston Mayor John Whitmire.

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez on Friday announced that the death toll of Texans who died in Thursday’s storm had risen. AP

Whitmire warned potential looters on X that “police are out in force, including 50 state troopers sent to the area to prevent looting.”

The rain, wind and power outages caused sewage to overflow at three city sites, including a wastewater treatment plant, Houston’s KPRC-TV reported. Officials said drinking water remained safe but Houston Public Works warned those on private wells to monitor their supplies.

The National Weather Service classified the destructive weather event as a derecho. The determination requires at least 60 mph winds that cover a span of 400 miles of continuous wind damage, reaching 60 miles wide, noted Fox Weather meteorologist Cody Braud.

Severe storms, straight-line winds, tornadoes and flooding have affected Texas since April 26, the White House said in a declaration ordering federal aid to the region. Xinhua/Shutterstock

While the highest winds recorded clocked in at 84 mph, damage surveys indicated winds reached 100 mph. In its entirety, the storm stretched from the San Antonio-Austin region all the way into parts of Mississippi and Alabama, Braud said.

In addition to property damage, transmission towers were collapsed and the main power grid was battered, according to Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, the top elected official in the county.

The City of Houston announced on X that it opened up locations to provide water, ice and phone charging stations.

The White House on Friday approved a disaster declaration for the state and ordered federal aid to help recovery efforts.

Damage assessments indicated that winds reached 100 mph in Texas during Thursday’s storms. The Washington Post via Getty Images

The mercury in Houston hit 90 degrees by midday Saturday. It was expected to climb to 95 on Sunday, said Braud, and inch toward triple digits by mid-week.

“For those with no air conditioning, it’s definitely not going to be pleasant — and that doesn’t seem to be letting up anytime soon,” said Braud.

But it will be dry, he added.

“I don’t know what’s more important to the region, staying away from severe storms or dealing with the heat as they recover,” he said. “I’m sure they’ll take the clear skies.”

The NWS warned on X: “Don’t overdo yourself during the cleanup process.” The city is also facing poor air quality alerts for the weekend.

With Post wires

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