Joel Shannon, USA TODAY
Published 6:35 p.m. ET July 28, 2020
Hurricane Hanna, the first hurricane of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, left parts of coastal Texas “totally underwater.”
Carbon monoxide fumes from a generator killed four family members and critically injured a child in hurricane-ravaged Texas, local authorities said Tuesday.
On Monday, police responded to a home in Edinburg, Texas after neighbors expressed concerns about not seeing the family. There, police found five people unconscious — four family members were dead, Edinburg police chief Cesar Torres said.
A 12-year-old girl was found alive and is currently in critical condition, Torres said. The deceased were aged 34 to 11.
“It is with heavy hearts that we have to announce the tragic death of a young family in the city of Edinburg. In this case, a young and innocent family was just trying to make best of the aftermath of Hurricane Hanna,” Torres said.
Mayor Richard Molina said at a Tuesday press conference that the incident appeared to be an accidental carbon monoxide poisoning. Thousands are still without power in the city, Molina said.
Hanna made landfall in southeastern Texas Saturday as a Category 1 hurricane, leaving flooding and power outages in its wake.
Tens of thousands of people in the state were still without power as of Tuesday afternoon, according to poweroutage.us.
Watch: Hurricane Hanna floods Texas coast, turning streets into rivers
July 24: Hanna makes landfall in Texas
In the hours after the incident, police found other families in danger from the placement of their generators, Torres said.
Carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless, colorless gas. Thousands of American are treated for carbon monoxide poisoning each year and hundreds die, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
After a storm, many people are tempted to move generators inside, to protect them from the elements or prevent theft. Experts say a safer strategy is to mount generators on a concrete base where they can be chained down.
Experts recommend never running generators inside a house, garage or carport. Even a generator placed outside the home can be dangerous, if windows are open or the wind is blowing towards the house.
Installing carbon monoxide alarms and quickly exiting the home when they go off can help keep you safe from the potentially deadly gas.
Contributing: Liz Szabo
Bill Wadell was in Padre Island and Corpus Christi watching as the Hanna slammed the area with torrential rain and severe storm surge.
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