Humberto developed suddenly off the Texas coast as a tropical storm on September 12 and within 18 hours grew into a Category 1 hurricane that made landfall near High Island virtually the same area where Hurricane Rita came ashore in September 2005 as a Category 3 storm and caused minimal damage to TDCJ facilities near Beaumont.
Humberto, which dropped back to tropical storm status shortly after landfall, knocked out power to the Stiles, Gist, and LeBlanc facilities at about 4 a.m. Generators were used to provide the TDCJ facilities with electricity, water, and sewer until power could be restored the following day. Seven inches of rain and winds clocked at 70 mph in the area also caused some minor structural damage at the three facilities. The LeBlanc facility reported minor roof damage, and both the Stiles and Gist facilities had the roof torn from their outlying horse barns. Gist officials also reported water leaks in several buildings within the compound. There were no injuries to staff or offenders at the three units.
Parole Division Region I Director Jay Patzke said field officers accounted for all intensive supervision offenders within the scope of the storm and that damage to parole facilities in Beaumont and Orange consisted only of a few broken windows.
Humberto’s development from a tropical storm with 35-mph winds to a hurricane with winds approaching 85 mph in so short a time baffled even seasoned forecasters.
“To put this development in prospective, no tropical cyclone in the historical record has ever reached this intensity at a faster rate near landfall,” said senior hurricane forecaster James Franklin at the National Hurricane Center in Miami.
Stiles Unit Senior Warden Joe Smith said Hurricane Humberto didn’t pack the punch of Hurricane Rita, which left significant damage in her wake.
“There’s no comparison,” he said of the two hurricanes. “I wasn’t near as scared this time.”