News-Press from Fort Myers, Florida on September 16, 1999 · Page 10
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News-Press from Fort Myers, Florida · Page 10

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Fort Myers, Florida
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Thursday, September 16, 1999
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Page 10
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10A THE NEWS-PRESS, THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 16, 1999 Hurricane h: Floyd - (HQ n rxnu n n ' Micnmonaa-NOrtoiK VA-" Virginia J.- '" vjyeaeh? FLORIDA Evacuees: 2 million ordered to evacuate 1.3 million complied , Shelters: 33,000 people in 12 shelters SOUTH CAROLINA Evacuees: 800,000 ordered -to evacuate 532,000 complied Shelters: 12,000 people in 102 shelters 'GA' 'Charleston ' "oavannsui 'Jacksonville f;: v ' : 7 - Daorta Beach WesiPa1m 250 miles :LA. J681 Miami 25 km Note: Numbers are estimates Gert not expected to threaten U.S. coast Knight Rldder News Senice For now the outlook is good for Gert. Early indications are that the hurricane, a powerful storm with sustained winds of 150 mph, will start curving north by today into cooler waters and die before approaching any land. "The forecast has it going north and not getting close to the United States," hurricane specialist Lixion Avila said Wednesday. "We don't have any indication, no models at this time, that this system is going to even approach the Leeward Islands." Forecasters say it will be another day or two before they can conclusively say the hurricane won't eventually pose a threat. The reason forecasters are so confident Gert will go away: Hurricane Floyd cleared a path for it to squeeze through a high pressure system sitting to its north. Once Gert turns, forecasters say it will be forced to continue to the north by the same low-pressure trough that deflected Floyd from South Florida. "We're not expecting Gert to be a factor at all," said Max Mayfield, deputy director of the National Hurricane Center in Miami. While Gert has been nearly following Floyd's path, it is a much smaller storm in diameter. Its hurricane-force winds extend 45 miles out from its center, as opposed to more than 100 miles for Floyd. NASA's 4 shuttles untouched The Associated Press CAPE CANAVERAL - NASA's space shuttles, hangars and launch pads all escaped serious damage Wednesday from Hurricane Floyd. The space agency had feared that Floyd would wipe out the hangars and other installation if the storm came ashore with its 140 mph winds. The NASA facilities were built to take wind of no more than 125 mph. But the hurricane stayed 103 miles offshore, bringing sustained wind of only 63 mph, with gusts of 80 mph. NASA spokesman George Diller, one of about 100 workers who volunteered to stay behind to ride out the storm, said a preliminary inspection of the buildings housing the four space shuttles and all the equipment for the international space station found no major problems. "It's minimal, very minimal," he said. "You can get this kind of damage in a severe thunderstorm. We're just really pleased." Some weather-protection material came off one of the two shuttle launch pads, and a piece of sheet metal blew off the 525-foot-high Vehicle Assembly Building, Diller said. Several signs and trees were down, and some trailers sustained minor damage. Technology, experience helped pin forecast The Associated Press MIAMI All indications from the high-tech ocean buoys, the satellite images and the $45 million storm plane were that Hurricane Floyd would just brush the Florida coast And that's pretty much what happened. In fact, the computer models were so consistent about the turn to the north that forecasters at the National Hurricane Center came close to declaring that Floyd would miss Florida. Instead, they played it safe. While maintaining the storm would head north before rolling ashore, the forecasters warned residents all along FLEi::a mo:.i floyd GEORGIA 500,000 ordered to evacuate 300,000 complied ; Shelters: 7,500 people in 50 shelters NORTH CAROLINA Evacuees: More than 20,000 Shelters: 28 open AP ri.-.t- -i-k'-it- V'i .-: '- xI-K-jf J" y ' . .. : 'i.i-.. llj Photos by the Associated Press Levi Skeete is held by his mother, Denise, outside their Nassau, Bahamas, home Wednesday as workers clear a tree which landed on the house. . Bahamians assess the damage One man missing; destruction varies The Associated Press NASSAU, Bahamas Bahamians shoveled sand from homes and removed uprooted trees from streets Wednesday amid reports of widespread destruction on distant islands in the aftermath of powerful Hurricane Floyd. One man was missing on northern Grand Bahama Island after the van he was riding in got stuck in a storm surge Tuesday and he tried to swim to high ground. Freeport resident Bobby Tinker disappeared just west of town, said Inspector Kendall Deveaux. A friend, Nelson Davis, survived. "They were trying to beat the hurricane. They were trying to get back to their homes when they got caught," Deveaux said. Several people, including one who fell off a roof during the storm, were treated for minor injuries in Nassau, the Bahamian capital. Floyd's winds ripped roofs off hundreds of wooden homes, beached dozens of boats, flooded beachfront condominiums and floated cars in 6-foot storm surges while pummeling the fragile Florida's east coast to gather supplies, protect their homes and head to higher ground. "As it turns out, the hurricane moved pretty much as expected along the forecasted track," hurricane specialist Ed Rappaport said Wednesday. "But if we had been off by 50 miles or so, if it had been 50 miles farther to the west, there would've been a direct impact on Florida." Improvements in technology, combined with a wealth of past experience, have helped forecasters predict storm tracks with greater accuracy over the past few decades. A generation ago, the three-day forecast was off by somewhere between Congestion added hours The Associated Press COLUMBIA, S.C. - First came the hurricane warnings. Then came the traffic. Hours and hours and hours of it. Around the Southeast, the bumper-to-bumper traffic jams from the biggest peacetime evacuation in U.S. history spawned fierce criticism of both politicians and emergency planners. In South Carolina, first-term Gov. Jim Hodges was blamed by those who said he waited too long to turn Interstate 26 into a one-way road inland. The highway backed up quickly after Hodges ordered an evacuation at noon Tuesday that affected an estimated 800,000 people in coastal areas. Lives Uprooted .. . &UjtoM& IiMf - i1nWt'a' - TOSSED ABOUT: People walk past the remains of a beached fishing vessel destroyed by Hurricane Floyd along Montague Beach in Nassau on Wednesday. islands east of Florida on Tuesday. Electricity and telephones remained down throughout most of the 600-mile long archipelago on Wednesday, complicating the task of reporting casualties and damage that was certain to soar into the millions of dollars. U.S. military and Bahamian aircraft were sent to survey the islands and airlift emergency supplies if needed. 400 and 450 miles. That's now down to 200 to 250 miles, Rappaport said. . Still, the forecasters are slow to congratulate themselves. "We're almost afraid of people thinking we're better than we are because then they don't allow for error," said Jerry JarrelL director of the National Hurricane Center. "And forecasts are just forecasts. They're not the gospel." Not yet. Computers that line two rooms inside the hurricane center in Miami are used by forecasters who must decide the most likely route a storm will take. Millions of readings of wind, air pressure, humidity, light, cloud cover and 4 to travel times Traffic continued at a crawl Wednesday morning. Pat Wylie said it took his brother-in-law lOVi hours Tuesday to get from Charleston to Greenville a trip that usually takes 3'2 hours. "I don't think the politicians had a clue," he said. "They evacuated everybody, and they had no plan for the numbers." Charleston Mayor Joseph Riley Jr., was more blunt. "What you're doing is running the risk of killing my people. It was terrible," he said in an uncharacteristic attack on Hodges, a fellow Democrat. Hodges said the disaster plan developed by the state after Hurricane Hugo -4'-') : : Afc. '" - irf TIIM-n TBTT mil 1 i I It ' Nassau's airport reopened Wednesday afternoon, with charter flights to ferry tourists out and the first commercial flight to Miami scheduled for evening. All services were expected to be restored on New Providence Island home to half the Bahamas' 310,000 people by late Wednesday, the government Tourism Ministry said. other variable are collected from around the world and put into computer models, based in Princeton, NJ., Washington and Britain. Forecasters then study those models to plot a hurricane's path. A critical ingredient is past experience. Computer models that are found to be accurate are used again. "The premise that we use is that the future is going to behave like the past," said hurricane center meteorologist Todd Kimberlain. It was that information that really helped forecasters predict with confidence Floyd would rum to the north. i struck in 1989 did not call for opening both sides of the highway. He said experts had questioned the safety of opening the highway's eastbound lanes to westbound traffic concerns that were echoed by state transportation officials Tuesday night. "I said, '1 hear what you're saying, but I think the bigger public safety issue right now is those people strand: ed on the Interstate,' " Hodges said. An estimated 2.6 million people in South Carolina, Florida and Georgia were urged to flee the storm. In Florida, traffic backed up 30 miles or more as 1.3 million people left their homes. One motorist reported taking five hours for a usual 30-minute drive across Jacksonville. Jebbie Bush, the 15-year-old son of Gov. Jeb Bush, told his father it took tlf 4 On the hard-hit eastern island of San Salvador, Club Med officials were trying to charter aircraft to evacuate 380 tourists who rode out the storm at the resort, which was running on generator power. The sprawling island's Atlantis resort reported only minor damage and major hotels in Nassau also were spared significant damage. Government radio ZNF said most homes on San Salvador were roofless, and reported "mass structural damage throughout the country." Docks and citrus orchards were destroyed on Ackland Island and a chicken farm was washed away on New Providence Island. "The main road is destroyed. Houses are destroyed. Residents say they are in desperate need of essential services, ZNF radio reported from Abaco Island. In Nassau, mounds of wind-driven sand and dangling power lines slowed traffic toia crawl. Under brightly sunny skies, residents inspected a half-dozen smashed boats beached along Nassau's West Bay Street. "They looted my boat. They stole my stove. How can people do that when I already have so much trouble?" shouted Omar Segundo, surveying his beached 100-foot freighter in Nassau. him eight hours to get from Jacksonville Beach to Tallahassee, about twice as long as normal. The Florida Highway Patrol turned down a request by Jacksonville Mayor John Delaney to reverse the eastbound lanes of Interstate 10 to allow for additional westbound traffic. In Georgia, Karlene Barron of the state Transportation Department said the highways were mostly clear Wednesday, with some congestion on 1-20 caused by people coming from South Carolina. On Tuesday, both sides of 1-16 were opened to westbound evacuees. Hodges waited until almost 7 p.m. Tuesday before ordering 1-26 be turned into a one-way highway leading out of Charleston, but it took almost three hours to complete the switchover. State had quick response to Floyd Evacuation a success, Gov. Bush says By JIM ASH and MARJ0RIE MENZEL The News-Press Tallahassee Bureau TALLAHASSEE - As Hurricane Floyd pushed slowly north Wednesday, Gov. Jeb Bush praised emergency managers and the evacuation of 1.2 million vulnerable Floridians the largest in state history. Noting lingering shortages in evacuation shelters and clogged highways, Bush called Floyd a "learning process." The following is a sampling of state agencies and response to the storm: Department of Community Affairs, Division of Emergency Management: About 200 emergency managers from the division and other state agencies worked in the center at the storm's peak. Department of Military Affairs: Deployed 1,600 Florida National Guard troops in three BUSH battalions in Miami, Orlando and Palatka. Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, Florida Highway Patrol: The FHP has 1,740 troopers and 1,200 of them were put on rotating 12-hour shifts for the storm. Troopers and other law enforcement officers were posted along major evacuation routes as part of a two-year-old regional evacuation plan. Department of Transportation: Lifted tolls on the Florida Turnpike and helped managed traffic flow. DOT personnel stood by at some rest areas with gasoline to help stranded motorists. Department of Children & Families: The social services agency contacted the foster parents of 9,795 children it oversees to help coordinate their disaster plans. Some waivers were granted to foster parents to allow out-of-state evacuations. Department of Health: The department sent 400 employees to help staff "special needs" shelters for evacuees with health problems in 39 counties. Activated three disaster medical assistance teams in Pensacola, Miami and Tampa. Agency for Health Care Administration: Assisted with the evacuation of thousands of elderly and disabled residents from hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living . facilities. Department of Insurance: The department authorized insurance companies to dispatch hundreds of claims adjusters from other states to help policy holders. Department of Environmental Protection: The department closed 30 state parks and helped evacuate hundreds of campers. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services: Work crews will be available to clear roads should that become necessary. Department of Revenue: Extended a Friday deadline to Monday for businesses to pay their taxes electronically. Jim Ash and Marjorie Menzel can be reached at (850) 222-8384. TRACKING THE STORM: Lixion Avila, left, hurricane specialist, and meteorologist Chris Robbins work to track Hurricane 'm Floyd on ?.3 HI-J in $3 vveuiiesuuy di A-J .J. . a( v'Xf'T"""' t!l the National Hurricane Center in Miami. The Associated Press . J:

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