The Miami Herald from Miami, Florida on September 19, 1989 · 15
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The Miami Herald from Miami, Florida · 15

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Location:
Miami, Florida
Issue Date:
Tuesday, September 19, 1989
Page:
15
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HURRICANE HUGO F TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 19 1989 1 CII THE MIAMI HERALD 1UH Me by isle Villages ravaged by wind surf By MARTIN MERZER Herald Senior Writer Like rafts in the ocean the islands were mere specks in the great expanse — no match for the fury of a storm nourished for days by warm and fertile water concentrating its power until a terrible potential was realized So when Hurricane Hugo reached this first hopeless barrier this slim and perforated crescent of land it rolled through and over it with devastating effect Even as winds howled and later as the inevitable bookkeeping of death and destruction began those caught in this maelstrom found themselves unable to adequately describe it At noon Monday a ham radio operator in Puerto Rico shouted into his microphone before the transmission ended: “This is the worst hurricane we’ve ever had! Anybody who went outside now would be risking his life It’s too much my friend” A radio operator on St Croix huddled in a house that danced in the wind and said he felt like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz “This thing is penetrating” he said “I mean it has psychological impact” The chief minister of Montserrat an island on which nearly every home reportedly was damaged summed it up in five words: Hugo he said was “a hell of a thing” Based on preliminary reports here is a summary of the devastation wrought thus far by the worst storm to hit the northeastern Caribbean in more than a decade: Guadeloupe This island administered by France and home to 340000 people was directly in the path of Hugo and was utterly ravaged French officials in Paris put the casualty count at five dead at least 85 injured and as many as 12000 left homeless Other estimates ranged as high as 10 dead and more than 20000 without homes Corrugated steel roofs were tom off buildings Power lines ripped free and crops were flattened Battering winds knocked the airport’s control tower out of commission Debris blocked at least 30 percent of the roads Twenty-four-foot waves beached dozens of boats The mayor of St Francois on the island’s eastern end said there was virtually nothing left of his village “Aside from a few houses almost all the rest were destroyed” said Mayor Ernest Moutoussamy French officials dispatched a cabinet minister and military transport planes loaded with 3000 soldiers and 45 tons of emergency supplies Nearly all communications were cut but as the cleanup began Monday a French journalist reported seeing small groups of dazed residents walking through a “landscape of desolation" Montserrat Nearly every home in this British colony was destroyed or severely damaged leaving as many as 12000 people homeless according to ham radio operators and other sources Radio operators reported as many as six deaths other sources confirmed four deaths The Barbados Amateur Radio Society relayed a message from Montserrat to all embassies and foreign missions in Barbados requesting urgent assistance Officials said schools hospitals and the police department all suffered serious damage The government headquarters was said to be virtually destroyed as were the power station fuel storage tanks and a number of churches Police appealed for public assis- RAIN DAMAGE: Rescue workers inspect a car that jumped a rail of a slippery Interstate 395 ramp in Miami on Monday and landed on its roof Police were searching for the driver who fled the scene Don’t blame hurricane for rainstorms in Miami Don’t blame Hurricane Hugo for Miami’s lightning-streaked skies and rainfall A weak low-pressure trough traveling west from the Bahamas is the culprit “It has nothing to do with Hugo” said Robert Molle-da a spokesman for the National Weather Service in Coral Gables We won’t be getting any of Hugo’s bluster — if we do at all — until later this week Molleda said ytt h W:? ft 1 5 & TAKING STOCK: A woman stands next to what remains of her home after Hurricane Hugo ripped through Pointe-a-Pitre the capital of ‘This is the worst hurricane we’ve ever had! Anybody who went outside now would be risking his life It’s too much my friend ’ HAM RADIO OPERATOR Puerto Rico tance to clear roads but work was hampered by continuing ram Electricity water and telecommunications services remained out of order The colony appealed for drinking water food tents and medicine A British warship HMS Alacrity arrived Monday and a landing party cleared a runway so emergency provisions could be flown in Other rescuers were poised to land on the island An amateur radio operator said there were no reports of looting but defense and police personnel were patrolling the streets of the capital Plymouth and outlying areas Many Americans maintain retirement or vacation homes in Montserrat Puerto Rico Widespread damage was reported Monday night as civil defense workers hindered by extensive electrical blackouts began cleaning up the mess left behind by Hugo’s daylong assault Police said a man was electrocuted Sunday when he touched a downed power line Streets were littered with glass and other debris Water electricity and communications services were severed in places San Juan was cloaked in total darkness Gov Hernandez Colon said late Monday that at least 27900 of the island’s 33 million people were left homeless by the storm and that he would ask President Bush to declare his island a disaster area At least 80 percent of the homes in the offshore island of Culebra were damaged by wind many of them left without roofs as the deluge of rain intensified One ham radio operator reported seeing 100 boats beached on the island and at furious Hugo took to 1 lr - Atlantic Ocean DOMINICAN REPUBLIC PUERTO NAREAN RICO f DETAIL V I v 1 0 U MILES Canbbean Sea 70W At least four dead in Montserrat Nearly all 12000 residents homeless 66"W 64'W Atlantic Ocean Storm's 35-mile I eye brushes I San Juan Aguadilla Arecibo k 1 r J I Ponce ' I Mayaguez 20 i MILES 67W Canbbean least three bodies along roads In the town of Arroyo waves as high as 35 feet damaged scores of homes Fifty airplanes were reported destroyed at the airport in Isla Verde Looting was reported in San Juan even as the winds mounted Antigua At least two people died in this former British colony according to a radio station Roofs were stripped from 15 percent of the small houses another 15 percent of the homes were otherwise damaged Power lines were down and the downtown business district was under five feet of water for much of the day Thousands of boats were damaged and some residents were cut off by flooding The airport reopened Monday and regional airlines worked to restore service Some 100000 people TIM CHAPMAN Miami Herald Staff Winds should stay between five and 10 miles per hour today as they have for the past few days he said However the trough will probably continue to send showers The National Weather Service is predicting a 60 percent chance of rain for today Showers are just as likely Wednesday afternoon Miami received a rush-hour deluge Monday afternoon tying up traffic By Monday night Miami had gotten 226 inches of rain in 24 hours J p j Ji r f V i - - United Press International Reuter Guadeloupe on Sunday At least five deaths and 12000 homeless were reported on the French resort island I'VWfuyii v Roofs blown off 75 percent of homes in St Croix At least two dead in Antigua At least five dead 85 injured in Guadeloupe DOMINICA MARTINIQUE w 14N C ST LUCIA 62W 60”W 58 ‘W sSan Juan J5 — g am Bayamon Monday HumacaoK ''-J Vieques 18"N 35-foot waves damage homes in Arroyo Sea 66‘W REGINALD MYERS I Miami Herald Staff live on the island St Thomas An amateur radio operator said high winds ripped roofs from some homes in this popular tourist destination and set boats adrift The power company suspended service until the storm passed Off St Thomas charter boat captain OB O’Brian told Cable News Network by ship-to-shore telephone: “Looking down the lagoon we see a lot of sailboats intertwined and a lot of sails ripped and a lot of sails down It looks pretty bad” Most of the US Virgin Islands’ 106000 residents live on St Thomas and St Croix St Croix A ham radio operator said the winds tore off the roofs from up to 75 percent of the homes Officials said stores in the town of Popping ears emotional tension gauge Hugo’s fearsome strength REPORT FROM 1A tative of the island’s power utility grows increasingly haggard His job: to update reporters with news of blackouts About 2 am he tell us that 20 towns are without power He is back within moments Twenty-five towns Now 30 At 3 am 44 of the island’s 78 municipalities are darkened And before he is through telling us this another communique arrives Make it 50 Transformers are blowing all over the island “We are reaching the zero hour” he says “We’re at the point now where we must make the decision to cut off all power and save our system but that means cutting power to the aqueducts that supply water” There is no choice It is done We are inside a fortresslike building built hundreds of years ago by the Spaniards in Old San Juan well protected bywalls four feet thick f --“L - S’ V t g & '? "f i f Jr1 mm UtMsfi III v 4 Uf- HiJM's 05 r - ' ' m - a ‘ - - 1 e Christiansted were heavily damaged and there were reports of looting National Guard Adjutant Gen Robert Moorehead said 1000 people were evacuated to rescue shelters St Martin Reports from the Dutch side of this Dutch-French island which was on the fringe of the storm indicated that dozens of homes were left roofless About 25 sailboats were severely damaged and the Coast Guard was J searching for one boat with four people onboard St Kitts-Nevis Ham radio operators in St Kitts reported “extensive damage" Roads in the island were blocked houses were damaged power lines felled and a radio station closed One operator said powerful winds ripped off several roofs in his area There were unconfirmed reports from radio operators of four deaths in Nevis 99 percent of the population was homeless with most damage due to a surge of sea water 20 feet high About 48000 people live on the islands which are former British colonies Dominica There was extensive flooding and landslides The water supply was disrupted and the airport was damaged Officials spoke of severely damaged coastal roads that will cost millions of dollars to repair Heavy damage also was sustained by bridges and storm drains Some villages remained cut off from the rest of the island because of landslides Dominica’s acting prime minister Brian Alleyne appealed to the outside world for assistance in reconstruction and reported considerable destruction of agriculture with 80 percent of the banana crop ruined By late Monday the airport reopened About 80000 people live on the island British Virgin Islands Hugo uprooted trees and knocked out power Sunday On the resort island of Tortola residents said there were numerous injuries and scores of homes destroyed Communications were still severed Monday In one poor neighborhood raw sewage rises to our ankles I see looters one brazenly breaking into a school But the urge comes to peek outside The desire does not last long Gales of wind alternately blast us forward and then slam us against a wall I’m wearing only the top of my rain suit but my pants are soaked by a salty mixture of rain and sea It’s almost amusing Only one side of my clothes is wet — the side facing the wind The other side is perfectly dry Until I turn around and head back As damage reports roll in during the morning the magnitude of this storm finally takes hold I FUTURE FROM 1A dreds of miles away In Hugo’s case the major influence will be the strength of a large high-pressure area now over the northeastern United States and the North Atlantic ' Another high-pressure area now over the western Gulf of Mexico is unlikely to come close enough to affect Hugo Hurricanes which are low-pressure systems tend to follow paths of lower pressure Thus a strong high would keep Hugo from drifting to the north and the clockwise circulation around the high would blow it to the west — and perhaps into Florida This happened here in fact in 1965 with Hurricane Betsy the strongest storm to hit South Florida in the last quarter-century Betsy was on a steady northwestern path similar to Hugo's passing harmlessly east of the Bahamas But 300 miles east of Daytona Beach Betsy stalled when a high-pressure area moved off the Northeast Betsy looped back southwest into the Bahamas then headed due west across the tip of South Florida before making final landfall near New Orleans At the hurricane center forecasters use a variety of computer models to help them predict a storm’s path Most of the models pump the current conditions of the ‘ storm along with data about surrounding weather patterns into sophisticated equations with dozens of variables that ultimately project a best-guess track One special model called CLIPER for Climatological Persistence uses a different method: It matches the storm’s motion against a large data base of previous storm tracks hoping to divine the future by comparison to the past The difficulty is that the vari- ous models rarely agree completely The predicted loca- tions 72 hours ahead often differ by hundreds of miles — and that’s more than enough error to mean the difference between a major blow and a com-1 plete miss Worse it’s difficult to know which model to use: A model that works well for one storm can be woefully off on another As of Monday night using a combination of reasoned judgment and model projections the forecasters predicted that Hugo’s center will be off Florida somewhere near Nassau in the Bahamas by Thursday afternoon Of course that prediction is likely to change again today The best advice for South Florida residents right now Sheets said is to keep paying close attention to Hugo’s progress and be ready to act if a hurricane watch is called Even then there will be inevitable errors in predicting the final landfall But with hurricanes if you wait for certainty it’s too late Julia Ortiz Aleman a local radio reporter is found sitting quietly her fists clenched tight She is not talking into a microphone She is speaking only to herself “My God” she says Monday evening when the weather clears some w'e venture outside again to survey the damage I’m 32 and I have seen similar scenes only once before — during Hurricane Gilbert last year in Mexico Debris is scattered everywhere Row after row of telephone poles are snapped in two Near the airport giant stands of sea grape and other treasure shredded In one poor neighborhood raw sewage rises to our ankles I see looters one brazenly breaking into a school I think of what the island’s civil defense director Heriberto Acevedo said a few hours ago about the devastation: “If we’re not making history we’re competing with history” 1 inn — —

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