The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on September 14, 1999 · Page 52
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September 14, 1999

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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 52

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West Palm Beach, Florida
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Tuesday, September 14, 1999
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THE PALM BEACH POST TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 1999 13A i MSL r I L X Ml 1 , 0 Regulators continue draining of canals 4 4 ..tow mi i t ZflliE : It-liii "Mil ' MMH Mill i jor MING ' 547-5527 i L I 5 9 i I MS I 'r Lake Worth not happy being close to action ; 5 i - : " " , t - i1 "f i '''mm By Robert P. King ' Mm Beach Post Staff Writer ' Preparing for a hurricane expected to be more windy than wet, water managers continued draining canals Monday and prepared, to evacuate most of their ' staff out of harm's way. Forecasters at the South Florida Water Management District said Hurricane Floyd could drop as much as 7 inches of rain t a lot, but not nearly the 20 inches-plus that some unnamed deluges have delivered in recent years.- And the ground is drier and more able to soak up the rain than ,it was last month, when Hurricane Dennis threatened the state, district spokeswoman Ann Overton said. Still, the district was lowering waterj levels throughout its 1,600-mile-long network of canals, pumps and floodgates to makej-oom. ..ft V MARVIN JOSEPHStaff Photographer Just in case you were wondering WEST PALM BEACH - The owners of several busi- Monday afternoon. The owners of this antique shop nesses along Antique Row on South Dixie Highway left no doubt about their status by painting 'we are got an early start on boarding up store windows not open' on the plywood covering its storefront. S? Sn wpr Inral flnrtd rnntrnllprs feather experts watch in vain for Floyd to turn to the north As of 11 p.m. Monday West ; Latitude: 16.3N Loneitude: 42.7W Palm Atlantic wind speed: 85 mph Beach : Ocean i Direction: West at 16 mph 'mmjhm- :Gert -EH AFRICA 0 m Thursday Wednesday SOUTH 8 p.m. ; 8 p.m. ; . . AMERICA Dfl DQ LH H EDO 'CD such as the Lake Worth Drainage tttstriit, which operates dreds of miles of canals from West Palm Beach to Boca Raton. The district had its canals 2 feet below normal Monday and might empty them by this afternoon, Executive Director Bill Winters said. i '.' "Jri Martin County, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was lowering the St Lucie Canal up-streaftl of the St Lucie Lock, Operations Chief Pete Milam said. The corps also has halted all flows out of Lake Okeechobee. "' ".The lake was at 15 feet, 10 inches, above sea level Monday barely, below the level at which the corps would normally begin releasing water into the St. Lucie River!; -, .Meanwhile, the water district may send all but four or five key . managers out of its headquarters .in suburban West Palm Beach if .Floyd threatens a direct hit, Overton said. If necessary, she .said, the agency can operate its .flood control system from Davie or Clewiston. r -The district's 8-year-old, $18 , million headquarters just south of Palm Beach International Airport has roof leaks and isn't designed to withstand winds over 120 mph. A hqiricane-proof emergency center is under construction. Latest updates, tracking maps and free e-mail advisories: www.storm99.com Evacuations Authorities have ordered the evacuation of all barrier islands, mobile homes and low-lying areas. In addition, some local police are asking residents of other areas to leave, including: Boynton Beach: east of Interstate 95. Lantana: Hypoluxo Island Lake Worth: east of Federal Highway Riviera Beach: east of Broadway B In Martin and St. Lucie counties, residents who believe they may be in low-lying areas should call their emergency hotlines to find out whether they should evacuate: Martin County: 287-1652 St. Lucie County: 461-5201 "It's pretty scary when you have The Weather-Channel reporting from Lake Worth," Mayor Tom Ramiccio said. The Lake Worth beach, with its ( 960-foot-long pier, is the closest point to the Gulf t Stream and one of the most eastern points in Florida, he said. This is going to be a nasty storm. It will be a disaster with all the work we've put into downtown if it doesn't veer off." ''. Last month, waves from Hurricane Dennis, i ; which didn't come within 100 miles of Florida, knocked off temporary wrappings from the pier's. pilings and popped off $8,000 worth of wooden boards. The boards have been recovered and reinstalled. (T - Safety in numbers Lotto, that is 1 While Floyd captured the attention of Floridi-' ans from Key West to St Augustine, West Palm Beach resident Diane Taylor had another five let- ters on her mind: L-O-T-T-O. Taylor, 56, presented her winning lottery ticket, worth $3.78 million, af j Lottery headquarters in Tallahassee on Monday. Taylor, an accountant for a property management company, chose to take her prize in 30 annual payments of about $126,000 each. Tm single I've got a nice car and nice clothes, so I've been 'K fortunate along the way," Taylor told Lottery offi-s cials. "This is just security to go in the bank, basically, for a nice comfortable retirement with nothing to worry about." NASA fears for space shuttle safety CAPE CANAVERAL NASA's four space shuttles were in danger as the agency braced for Hurricane Floyd, a storm powerful enough to wipe out its launch pads and hangars. ; I All of the shuttles are in hangars. But the buildings are designed to withstand wind of no more than 105 mph to 125 mph. Floyd had top sustained winds of 155 mph as of Monday afternoon. i "We're going to live and hope that's what r , it's going to take," NASA spokesman George Diller said as Kennedy Space Center's approxi- mately 12,500 workers began evacuating. -1 Even if the hurricane skirts the Central Florida coast and passes 35 miles offshore, forecasters ' have warned Kennedy Space Center to expect 150-mph winds on Wednesday. "We're just hoping that it stays farther offshore to make it a little easier for us," Diller said. "But . it's not going to be a good situation in any event Barring a change in the hurricane's course, NASA planned to close down the Kennedy Space Center by midnight Monday, leaving behind a skeleton crew. Today, managers will decide f whether to keep the crew there to ride out the ' storm; the workers would leave if the wind is as fierce as predicted. : Disney's animals will be safe Walt Disney World near Orlando had no plans to move its nearly 1,000 animals out of Animal Kingdom because the animals' dwellings are reinforced for hurricane-type weather. Z "If you saw the elephant barn, it's probably the safest place in Florida," said Disney spokesman M Diane Ledder. Disney planned to close some rides, such as t the skyway ride in the Magic Kingdom, if winds exceed 25 mph, she said. At nearby Universal Studios Escape, workers removed trash receptacles and awnings that might blow away in heavy winds. Workers also lowered the water levels in lagoons at the company's two parks, Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure. Military sends out ships JACKSONVILLE Twelve naval ships head; ed to sea Monday and personnel stationed at two bases were told to evacuate as military installations along the Florida coast braced for Hurricane Floyd. About 10,000 airmen, their family members w and civilian contractors at Patrick Air Force Base and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on the Central Florida coast were told to find someplace else to stay until the threat passes. Nearly 1,000 were expected to stay at a middle school while others ' sought refuge in hotels or with family and friends. As of Monday night, no evacuation order had been given for Mayport Naval Station on the Atlantic coast north of Jacksonville. Dozens of military aircraft planes were flown to safer ground and the Florida National Guard went on alert to help secure damaged areas and provide humanitarian help if needed. The USS John F. Kennedy, an aircraft carrier, with about 5,000 aboard, and the RFA Gold Frover, a visiting British ship, planned to join the other vessels from Mayport at sea today, at high tide, said base spokeswoman Martha Rimmer. Backstreet Boys don't want K this way Apparently, there's a phenomenon that's big-, ger than the Backstreet Boys. Because of Hurri- , cane Floyd, the pop group has postponed its two , concerts at the National Car Rental Center in Sun? rise, scheduled for today and Wednesday. The ) new dates are Dec. 5-6. Ticket buyers can obtain a refund at the point of purchase or use their tickets for the corresponding December performances. ' Airport will close at 70 mph Palm Beach International Airport remained ' ! open through Monday but supervisors will meet . this morning to consider whether it should closeh today. The airport must close if sustained winds ' reach 70 mph, at which point it becomes unsafe to operate the control tower, officials said. ' Lake 0 passage restricted Boats will not be allowed to pass through the Lake Okeechobee locks once wind at the locks reaches 39 mph, said Jim Vearil, a hydraulic engv-' neer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Jacksonville. B Staff Writers Scott McCabe, Mary Ellen Flannery, Kevin Thompson, Charles Passy, Lillian Weis.Angier Francalancia and Robert P. King and the Associated J Press contributed to this story. u , " TREASURE COAST From 1A abandoned Cape Canaveral as Floyd, one of the most powerful storms ever to threaten the United States, barreled toward the state with potentially catastrophic 155 mph winds. Floyd, a loaded supertanker of a storm, didn't brake and turn as forecasters had thought it would Monday. Instead, Floyd plowed west and slightly northwest, swelling into a near-Category 5 hurricane, striking fear throughout the Bahamas and sending tens of thousands of Floridi-ans fleeing inland. At 11 p.m., the eye of Hurricane Floyd was at 24.5 degrees north and 74.7 degrees west, about 590 miles southeast of Jacksonville Beach. The storm's highest winds were near 155 mph. Hurricane-force winds extended westward 90 miles from the center, and tropical storm-force winds of 40 mph or more extended westward 200 miles. Storm controls its destiny On its current forecast track as of late Monday, the center of the storm is expected to pass approximately 50 to 100 miles offshore of the northeast Florida and southeast Georgia coasts from early Wednesday morning through the early evening hours. Gov. Jeb Bush declared a state of emergency, giving him the authority to deploy the state's National Guard and allowing the state to seize property, order evacuations and suspend tolls on the highways. The east coast from Florida City, south of Miami, to Brunswick, Ga., was under a hurricane warning. "It's scary. It's very scary," said Bush, who lived in Miami when Hurricane Andrew struck in 1992. "Andrew hit Miami in the middle of the night and it was haunting. This is as strong and . . . three times bigger." Forecasters had expected it to turn more northward, reducing the danger to Florida. But as the day wore on and there was no sign that the hurricane was being influenced by weather systems in its path, a new scenario began taking shape: Floyd paralleling Floyd's coastline just offshore, beating it like a Weed-eater from Miami-Dade all the way to the Georgia border. "It's controlling its own destiny," said Jerry Jarrell of the National Hurricane Center. "That's a bad sign." Seven St Lucie County schools designated as hurricane shelters opened at 6 p.m. Monday, as well as the county's two special-needs shelters the St Lucie County Civic Center in Fort Pierce and the Port St Lucie Community Center. In Martin County, three Red Cross shelters at Pinewood, Jens- en Beach and Crystal Lake elementary schools were open Monday. Those shelters will hold fewer than 4,000 people, so Red Cross officials urged residents to use shelters only as last resorts. Hospitals, schools canceling "It's going to be uncomfortable, and it could be crowded," said Mary Sawyer, executive director of the Martin County Red Cross. "People need to try and go to friends and relatives first." More shelters in Martin County may be opened later. Challenger Elementary School is open to hold Martin County's 230 special-needs residents. Hospitals in Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast said they were receiving calls from people mistakenly believing they could seek shelter there. All hospitals were considering canceling surgeries scheduled today. Martin Memorial Medical Center in Stuart, which is on the banks of the St Lucie River, has canceled surgeries scheduled for today and Wednesday. The hospital said it has a concrete retaining wall that can protect it from water rising 10 feet above the high tide, and that the bottom two floors will be shuttered. The St. Lucie County School District canceled all after-school activities Monday and all classes for today and Wednesday. Employees were ordered not to report to work except for emergency personnel at the shelters. Martin County teachers and district staff are required to report to work at 9 a.m. Wednesday or else take a personal day. Private schools, including St. Anastasia School and John Carroll High School, were also closed. Indian River Community College is closed today and Wednesday, and classes are expected to resume at 8 a.m. Thursday. More police on streets City crews spent Monday lowering the levels in all drainage canals and waterways in anticipation of heavy rain. Plans for recycling and trash pickup today and Wednesday were put on hold after Bush declared a state of emergency and closed landfills. The Port St Lucie Police Department planned to double the number of officers on the street, and officers were to begin working 12-hour shifts starting at 6 a.m. today, Cmdr. Chuck Johnson said. The St. Lucie County Sheriffs Office is waiting until after the storm to put deputies on 12-hour shifts, said Capt Robert Miller. An additional 12 deputies were expected to be called in to help out today. The Martin County Sheriffs Office will have between 25 and 35 officers working 12-hour shifts. The Fort Pierce Utilities Authority shut off natural gas services to mobile home parks at 3 p.m. Monday. Employees at Florida Power & Light Co.'s nuclear power plant on Hutchinson Island also were on alert. One reactor unit was shut down Monday to begin a scheduled refueling and maintenance procedure, said spokeswoman Janice Brady. A decision was expected late Monday or early this morning about whether to shut down the other unit FPL bulks up work force for coming storm ' By John Murawski 1 Palm Beach Post Staff Writer i! WEST PALM BEACH Florida Power & Light Co. had 1 5,000 people lined up for power restoration efforts Monday, including about 1,000 contractors and workers at other utilities. The company's normal power resto- ' ration force is about 2,000. FPL will send out crews for ' routine repairs until winds ap-t proach 35 mph. At that point, the 'company calls the workers off ! until the storm passes, a spokes-' woman said Monday. FPL will start shutting down the reactor at its St Lucie nuclear J plant on Hutchinson Island early today if Hurricane Floyd appears i headed for the Treasure Coast, I spokeswoman Janice Brady said. ! Under federal law, nuclear ! plants must shut down two hours ! before winds reach hurricane 1 force.' It takes six to 10 hours to "shut down a nuclear reactor, ! Brady.said. I One of St. Lucie's reactors ! was already shut down Monday j for refueling and maintenance. j The reactors are protected by !a 3Vi-foot steel-reinforced con- ; crete wall, and can withstand windsup to 200 mph, Brady said. FPL wants customers to call the utility to report downed power lines, but not just to say their power is out If customers still don't have electricity after power has been restored in a neighbor- - hood, then they should call FPL Customers are asked to use the : phone number on their electricity ' bills, or these numbers: 9 Boca Raton-Delray Beach: '998227 H West Palm Beach area: .698000 t ' ;' B Martin County: 287-5400 - : B St Lucie County: 462-0555 ' B 'Broward County. (954) 797-5000 B .Indian River County: (800) '226-3545 Treasure Coast closings, reschedulings B Sewall's Point Town Hall is closed today. No public meetings this week. B United Way of Martin County canceled all meetings for this week. The campaign kick-off is rescheduled for Oct 1 and 2 at Treasure Coast Square mall. B StuartMartin County Chamber of Commerce is closed today. Business After Hours is rescheduled to Sept. 22. Utilities B Stuart Sanitation closed. B Nichols Sanitation, no pick-up today and Wednesday. B Waste Management no pick-up today and Wednesday. fl Indian River Community College will be closed today and Wednesday. Volleyball games scheduled for today and Thursday will be rescheduled. B Okeechobee County courthouse is closed today. B St Lucie County Courthouse closed today and Wednesday. B St. Lucie County schools closed today and Wednesday. B Martin County Health Department is closed today. City of Fort Pierce closed today and Wednesday. B Port St. Lucie city offices are closed today and Wednesday. B City of Stuart closed today and Wednesday. B Martin County schools will be closed today and Wednesday. B All Martin County libraries are closed today. B Martin County adult education classes are canceled today. B Martin County courts and the Constitutional Building will be closed today. B Keep Martin Beautiful Coastal Cleanup is rescheduled for Oct 2 fl Council on Aging of Martin County is canceling all services today and Wednesday, including the Community Coach, Meals on Wheels, adult day care, hog Cabin Senior Center activities and the HCFAShine Public Forum. t - - '-liiai in m mih in fi n in 1- r - r HI 1 - ' " - ....

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