The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on September 15, 1999 · Page 1
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September 15, 1999

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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 1

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West Palm Beach, Florida
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Wednesday, September 15, 1999
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Page 1
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M!E FLOYD: Nine pages of coverage, starting on 6A rhe Palm Beach Post WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 15, 1999 FINAL EDITION 4 50 PAGES 50 CENTS County shelters run out of room for evacuees 11 of low pressure deflects massive cyclone WCo mm r nnmi ( '-.V V. "5'?L I Monster Hurricane's fiercest winds and heaviest rains are kept offshore. By Mary McLachlin Palm Beach Post Staff Writer WEST PALM BEACH Hurricane Floyd forced South Florida to go through a full-scale disaster drill and then let the whole region off with a wet slap Tuesday as it headed up the coast toward the Carolinas. After flooding towns, toppling trees and power lines and ripping off roofs in the Bahamas, the 600-mile-wide hurricane finally hit a wall of low pressure that was Florida's only defense against Floyd's 140-mile-an-hour winds. The invisible shield held, deflecting the monster storm just enough to keep its hurricane force winds and heaviest rain bands offshore. "The gods have smiled on us," said Olivia McLean, emergency manager for the South Florida Water Management District. As Floyd crawled northward, hurricane warnings were cut to tropical storm warnings, and by 11 p.m. there were no warnings at all south of Fort Pierce. A hurricane warning was. posted from Fort Pierce to the North Carolina-Virginia border and a hurricane watch extended to Chincoteague, Va. At 11 p.m., the eye of Hurricane Floyd was at 77.9 degrees west latitude and 27.7 degrees north longitude, 155 miles northeast of West Palm Beach. Maximum sustained winds were near 140 mph, with gusts near 170 mph. Forecasters said its strength would fluctuate as it moved north, passing 50 to 100 ' miles off the northeast Florida and southeast Georgia coasts. They predicted the center would be off Flagler Beach around 2 p.m. today, off Jacksonville by 5 p.m. and off Brunswick, Ga., early tonight. Local emergency officials immediately lifted evacuation orders issued Monday, allowing residents of barrier islands, mobile homes and flood-prone areas to return to their homes. Palm Beach, Martin and St. Lucie counties still had to brace for possible tropical storm winds Tuesday night after the eye moved past, as the powerful storm pulled feeder bands of wind and rain toward it. Early damage reports consisted mainly of power failures and beach erosion caused by waves 4 to 6 feet higher than normal. More than 100,000 Florida Power & Light customers in a 35-county area lost electricity Tuesday. At 9 p.m., 74,000 customers were without power, including 34,000 in Palm Beach County and 25,000 in the Treasure Coast, and the number was expected to increase by morning, FPL spokeswoman Betty Nunez said. Crews will resume working in areas when the winds drop below 35 mph, she said. Palm Beach County emergency shelters remained open through the night, after a chaotic 24 hours in which hundreds more people than expected swamped Please see FLOYD, 8A Brian Grzech, 11, and his 11-month-old sister Karli saw waves kicked BOB SHANLEYStaff Photographer Park in Lantana. the sea wall Tuesday at Bicentennial TRACKING As of if p.m. Tuesday NORTH Latitude: Jf Longitude: 27.7 "N Direction: NW at 13 mph 77.9W Wind speed: 140 mph Plane, computers helped predict turn CAROLINA V3T "" CAROLINA PTS 78 a.m. GEORGIA fcharleston I Thursday 4 up by Hurricane Floyd break on And it left us asking how the weather forecasters were able to make a call so on the money it would make a bookie proud. They kept on telling us Floyd would flinch. But as we watched and waited . . . and waited ... and waited, we were the ones doing all the flinching. Floyd kept us on the edge of our seats, glued to the TV while our innards roiled as furiously as its feeder bands. If it was going to turn, we wanted it to get on with it Finally, many wondered whether the meteorologists Please see CLOSE CALL, 9A Atlantic Ocean 8 p.m. today Projected position of Hurricane Floyd 8 a.m. today J TuesdLy 11 p.rh. if savannah, -t: tJ "1 Jacksonville t g i v FLORIDA I 1 V Orlando f Gulf of Mexico WestPahn Beach I By Eliot Weinberg Palm Beach Post Staff Writer All that stood between Palm Beach County and Floyd's knockout punch was what a former National Hurricane Center director liked to call a "meteorological gnat's eyelash." The margin between a catastrophic once-in-a-century monster hurricane and the wimpy winds we actually got was that thin. It came down to about 50 miles and just a few hours. Still, our skin-of-the-teeth escape was causing residents of Georgia and the Carolinas to grind theirs. Closed storm BAHAMAS Schools closed again today Schools are closed again in Palm Beach, Martin and St. Lucie counties. Airports reopen Palm Beach and Miami International airports are expected to reopen today. Garbage pickup, closings, 13A To our readers Because of the storm, B You may receive today's paper later than usual. B You will find local news at the back of the Business section on Page 8B. B Customer service will open later than usual at 8:30 a.m. More inside B No panic: Local TV stations show great restraint in their coverage. 6A B Panic gorging: What to munch on to stay fat and happy. 7A B Cerabino: The hurricane box, score. 7A B Another one coming: The latest on Gert. 8A B it was a howl: How the animals fared. 10A O ) O 'Jl.tt.'?i.i4kr ML. For the most recent radar and satellite images, stories, photo galleries and coordinates, log on to Storm99.com CUBA shelters spur fear, frustration, anger By Dan Moffett Palm Beach Post Staff Writer Hundreds of Palm Beach County residents fled their homes Tuesday morning for the safety of emergency shelters, only to be told there was no room. The county's 11 shelters were filled by noon, catching crisis managers off guard and trying the patience of evacuees. "It was something of a shelter crisis," said Vince Bonvento, assistant county administrator. "Of all the operations. . . shelters were the one big problem." Many people who didn't live in evacuation areas unexpectedly flocked to shelters, Bonvento said. "We wanted people not in the risk areas to stay at home," he said. They didn't, and the county had to scramble to accommodate them. Fortunately, they didn't need to do so for long. As Floyd fizzled Tuesday afternoon, the shelters emptied as quickly as they had filled during the frantic morning. Earlier in the day, emergency managers pleaded for help wherever they could find it. Gov. Jeb Bush signed a request to activate the National Guard to help get people settled at the South Florida Fairgrounds, where long lines of irritated evacuees awaited admission to a shelter. The shelters had room for 4,475 people but at least 5,277 showed up, according to the Red Cross. At noon, Broward County agreed to absorb some of the overflow from here, offering space at high schools in Deerfield Beach and Please see OVERLOAD, 12A ANN & ABBY BUSINESS CLASSIFIEDS COMICS DEATHS 2D IB 8C 6D 7B LOTTERY PEOPLE SCORES STOCKS THEATERS TV LISTINGS WEATHER 2A 2A 6C 3B 4D 5D 1GC Travelers beware American travelers to foreign countries in . December and January may face Y2K problems. STORY, 2A Waco fallout A Justice Department official warned Janet Reno in a letter about improprieties in the siege on Waco. STORY, 3A Hispanic boom A census report shows the Hispanic population in Palm Beach County has risen 66 percent since 1990. STORY, 8B Hospital shootings A gunman, upset about the death of his mother, kills three hospital employees in Anaheim, Calif. STORY, 3A Copyright 1999 Palm Beach Post Vol 91 No. 153 4 section EDITORIALS 18A HOROSCOPE 2D vsor'ioooo1 CROSSWORDS SECTIONS C,D

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