HOUSTON -

Heavy rain and strong winds pounded the Houston area Wednesday, causing damage across the region.

Wind moved into the area first, causing thousands of power outages early in the day. The storms moved into the Houston area about 10 a.m.

Winds reaching 70 mph hit downtown Brenham in Washington County shortly before 7 a.m.

Numerous trees and power lines were toppled over or uprooted, fire officials said, and a mobile home near the airport was damaged.

"It took my dad's barn. Half the barn is gone and the whole roof is gone," said Linda, a Brenham resident. "The auction barn across the street -- the roof of that is all messed up. It scared me really bad because it woke us up and lifted the side of my double-wide trailer up off the pillars and dropped it. It scared the living daylights out of me."

There was also severe damage in the Huntsville area. Several businesses along 11th Street were hit.

A funnel cloud was spotted in Pearland shortly after noon.

The Pearland Police Department said several roofs were damaged along Main Street and tree limbs were scattered everywhere. Officials said five businesses and 20 homes were damaged.

KPRC Local 2 chief meteorologist Frank Billingsley said the damage may have been caused by tornadoes.

"The National Weather Service is going to survey all of these areas," he said.

Many areas received substantial, much-needed rain. Brookshire got 3.40 inches, Conroe received 2.80 inches and Hempstead received 2.56 inches of rain.

A low-pressure system was responsible for the strong storms.

No serious injuries were reported.

Officials Warn: Turn Around, Don't Drown

Many Houstonians were worried about flooding after severe weather left its mark on Jan. 9, when Houston firefighters performed about 140 water rescues.

Officials warned drivers to "turn around, not drown" if they approached rising water.

Flooding is the most common hazard in Houston and many times, individuals are not able to judge the depths of water along roadways and find themselves in perilous conditions.

Officials said 6 inches of water can cause tires to lose traction and begin to slide, and 12 inches of water can float many cars. Two feet of rushing water will carry off pickup trucks, SUVs and most other vehicles.

Water across a roadway may hide a missing segment of road or a missing bridge, officials said.

In flash floods, waters rise so rapidly they may be far deeper by the time you are halfway across, trapping you in your vehicle.

Be especially cautious at night, when it's even more difficult to gauge the amount of water in a roadway.

The safest option is to simply avoid driving over water and find an alternate, safer route, or wait until the danger has passed.

For information about flood preparedness, visit www.hcfcd.org/famfloodprepare.html.

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