The Miami Herald from Miami, Florida on September 20, 1989 · 13
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The Miami Herald from Miami, Florida · 13

Miami, Florida
Issue Date:
Wednesday, September 20, 1989
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Vw 1 1 "9 yiyrnt- y HURRICANE HUGO WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER20 1989 1 0 H THE MIAMI HERALD luH Utilities prepare to deal with Hugo ByMICHAELHUBER Herald Business Writer In tranquil tunes Patrick Welch writes the promotional newsletters that are stuffed m Flonda Power & Light Co bills In a hurricane Welch would be among 3500 white-collar workers to hit the streets and help restore electricity The FPL employees have volunteered to work as spotters — workers trained to identify problems with electrical lines and equipment from ground level “We do it so the linemen can actually spend their time doing repairs during a disaster” Welch said The program was first used in 1979 with Hurricane David which knocked out power to 310000 households or 15 percent of FPL’s customers Electricity was restored to most areas within 24 hours In contrast Hurricane Cleo m 1964 left most of the affected FPL customers without power for more than five days Each spotter attends eight four-hour training sessions and participates in a company-wide drill at the start of every hurricane season “You don’t become an expert” Welch said “but you do learn more from a technical standpoint than you ever would at a desk” After a hurricane Shaw said FPL also will call on utilities m neighboring regions to send repair crews Under such an arrangement FPL airlifted crews and equipment to Jamaica last year after it was pounded by Gilbert Storer Cable TV of Florida meanwhile says it would activate its disaster plans after a hurricane “There’s nothing we can do to keep service going during the storm It’s an act of God We’re at the mercy of the storm" said Jim Pagano general manager for Dade and Broward But Storer has lined up subcontractors to help with repairs after a storm Pagano said Southern Bell also is prepared to conscript BellSouth employees from neighboring states spokesman Gary Allmgton said He said Southern Bell repair crews would give priority to those phones lines that serve police fire rescue and hospitals “The critical thing to remember” Allmgton said “is that if we had a storm the tendency would be to call friends and relatives out of state But it’s not the tune to tie up the network” TV network plans updates in Spanish ' If Hurricane Hugo takes a course that would threaten South Florida The Weather Channel will broadcast updates in Spanish The cable channel will also display its maps and graphics in Spanish In areas covered by TCI cable the network will be on Channel 31 on Storer Cable Channel 6 on Dynamic Cablevision channels 12 or 24 ! MSS - &'££ v t- nU r S 5x3 -t i v SVk & ft &Qt & t x - vw&r® M vj United Press International Reuters Hurricane Hugo snapped telephone poles like twigs in San Juan Puerto Rico above and sent planes into their hangars at San Juan’s airport At least three people died and 27900 people were left homeless on the island but the numbers could be much higher officials say AND INDIFFERENCE Meanwhile in Nassau Bahamas Rollin and Sandy Edlundof Oakland Calif take the Don ’t Worry Be Happy approach Tuesday to the hurricane threat C W GRIFFIN Miami Herald Staff CHARLES TRAINOR JR Miami Herald Staff Hugo disrupts flights cruises to Caribbean By TED REED Herald Business Writer Hurricane Hugo has caused major disruptions for airlines and cruises serving the eastern Caribbean American Airlines has not had a flight in or out of its San Juan hub since Sunday afternoon About 300 flights have been canceled and today’s schedule of about 100 flights is expected to be canceled as well Eastern Airlines canceled its four Miami-San Juan flights on Monday and Tuesday but expects to restore service today Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines canceled a cruise for the first time m its history The Sun Viking was scheduled to take tourists out of San Juan on Sunday but it sailed empty “You had 500 passengers who were supposed to come in and Hugo was coming in at the same time so we had to cancel” said spokesman Rich Steck Carnival Cruise Lines switched the itinerary icientists live to tell of trip into storm’s eye By DAVE VON DREHLE Herald Staff Writer A team of scientists nearly died last week when their Lockheed P-3 Orion lost an engine as it entered the tiny eye of Hugo one of the most powerful Caribbean storms ever penetrated Unexpectedly fierce the hurricane threatened to snap the wings off the disabled airplane Pilot Jerry McKim and co-pUot Lowell Genzlinger were at the controls when the tough turboprop — designed for Navy anti-submarine warfare — left Barbados on the first exploratory mission to the eye of Hugo Another crew from the national hurricane research center was in a second P-3 Onon The plan was for the first plane to study the storm from the inside while the second took a look at the outside The hurricane-hunting teams have never lost a plane Little was known of Hugo scientist Peter Black said Tuesday Expecting winds no more than 120 miles per hour the first plane set a course for the eye at 1500 feet “We’ve flown m plenty of hum-canes at that height and usually it is a little choppy but fine” said Black a veteran of 23 years of hurricane flights “But this time as we approached the eye the wind climbed from 60 knots to 160 knots in just two minutes” This was serious: 160 knots is J90mph The plane bucked and in the back of the cabin equipment and papers flew everywhere A 200-pound life raft broke free and smashed a strut on the ceiling With the second jolt a computer came loose and punched a hole in the ceiling After the third jolt a bolt of flame burst from the right engine nearest the window Flight engineer Steve Wade immediately hit the kill switch and — just as it reached the eye of the storm — the plane lurched to the right rolled badly and began veering downward “I imagine it’s the worst thing that could possibly happen losing an engine at the most critical point of a low-altitude flight m a major storm” Black said Genzlinger a 13-year hurricane veteran remembered it more m the fashion of the cool country pilots cel ebrated in The Right Stuff “It got kinda rough there for a while” Pilot McKim later told Black that the turbulence was so bad it was impossible to see the instruments The two pilots wrestled to level the plane now badly underpowered by the loss of the engine Worse the strong down draft in the hurricane's eye was sucking the P-3 toward the roiling water To lighten the load McKim gave the order to begin dumping fuel Barely 800 feet above the waves they stopped sinking Now McKim tried to climb in search of calmer air There was no way the cnppled craft could go back through the intense turbulence: One jolt measured six tunes the force of gravity a mere fraction less than the force needed to snap the wings like bread sticks The pilots had to fly in tight circles to stay in the eye making the climb more difficult The three whining engines quickly overheated Then one of them began vibrating ominously and Genzlinger and McKim discussed ditching the plane Black said “I thought: ‘Hey this is a tomb We’re trapped here’ ” Black said “I’m looking at the sea down there seeing waves like I’ve never seen before I actually could see the waves leapmg up leaping skyward they must’ve been 30 feet high” The vibrating stopped After a harrowing hour m the eye the P-3 reached 5000 feet where an Air Force reconnaissance crew on another humcane-hunting mission flew by twice to mspect for damage Convinced that the plane could survive the Air Force crew scouted a route through the calmer high-altitude clouds When the radio crackled with news of a smooth passage the scientists breathed a sigh of relief The cool co-pilot said it was the worst nde of his career “I was a little concerned there for a while I’ll tell you” Said Black: “It’s funny the strange thoughts go through your mind when you think you might die First I thought of my wife and kids and family but then I thought ‘Gee how are we going to replace this aircraft? It cost a lot of money!’ ” Water managers keep hands on floodgates for its 1800-passenger Celebration which left Miami Saturday from the eastern Caribbean to western ports Norwegian Cruise Lines canceled a seven-day cruise out of San Juan on the 760-passenger Star-ward Instead of returning to San Juan from the previous week’s cruise the ship docked m Miami Tuesday The 1800-passenger Norway left Miami on Saturday for the western Caribbean instead of the eastern Caribbean By MICHAEL CROOK Herald Staff Writer Those who control the canals and floodgates throughout South Florida — the plumbing for keeping inland homes cars and people from washing away m hurricanes — put the system through its paces Tuesday Using the kind of computer you’d find in any corporate office John Ackerman was methodically opening and closing floodgates in Palm Beach Broward and Dade counties Portable generators that operate the water control structures were being tested as well “From our perspective it has obviously the good news bad news syndrome” said Tilford Creel deputy director of the South Florida Water Management District Water managers want heavy rains The drought-plagued region desperately needs it But they don’t want the disastrous winds and flooding a hurricane brings Picture all of South Flonda as a gigantic bathtub with a soaked sponge covering its bottom and dozens of stoppered drains If the bathtub is not drained during a storm it overflows If the sponge inside dnes up it’s useless The South Florida Water Management Distnct connected by radio telephone and microwave signal to its vast network of dams dikes and floodgates controls all the dram stoppers on that bathtub The conflict is this: Water managers must keep canals full throughout South Flonda to prevent sea water from seeping m and polluting the water supply So they are full now But a torrential rainstorm that dumps a foot of ram on South Florida would overflow topped-off canals and would flood the region So the district needs to predict how much ram Hugo will bring then dram the canals m time to make room for the storm water With a regional water shortage emergency in effect the district cannot afford to make a mistake “We don’t want to waste any more water than we have to” Ackerman said Looting mobs terrorize devastated St Croix ST CROIX FROM 1A lands in the Caribbean Eyewitnesses said police were joining m the looting and soldiers were idly watching “There is no control There is anarchy in town” said Bob Reiss 32 of Dallas an American Airlines dispatcher on vacation One after another stores were cleaned out Plate-glass windows that survived the storm were shattered by heavy steel divers’ tanks Then mobs including small children and old women grabbed at the merchandise Everything was taken Cheap baubles — a child’s compass for example — lay in the streets where they were dropped by overloaded thieves The aftermath was surreal Swarms of hornets stirred from their nests by the storm began attacking people across the island At least one man went into convulsions Meanwhile thousands of law-abiding citizens wandered dazed through the streets of Chnstiansted and Frederiksted amid almost unbelievable wreckage As many as nine of 10 homes might be destroyed or seriously damaged — even among the better homes on this economically divided island Entire neighborhoods hundreds of homes side-by-side were lev eled the debris scattered as if a giant lumber truck had overturned Stone buildings were destroyed — their roofs ripped off their walls in rubble and their contents flung as randomly as the pieces in a kaleidoscope Everywhere the pieces of lives — clothing furniture little remembrances — were reduced to sad bits of chaotic color Sgt Tim Zinzow of the Army’s 82nd Airborne spent the night trapped with three other soldiers in a Chnstiansted hotel “Saturday evening the wind started picking up” he said “At 8 pm the telephones went down By midnight you couldn’t open the door — it would blow off its hinges You could hear trees breaking and telephone poles snapping I’ve never seen anything like this before in my life” Tracie Benson of Dallas: “We heard CRRRAACK! And the building next to us just ripped apart” Benson learned later that her neighbors after the roof was gone spent the night huddled under a mattress m a sturdy shower stall When the storm passed residents stumbled from their homes to see a unforgettable scene In the harbor — where at least 62 boats were anchored before the storm — only four remained At least 20 sank or were battered against the shore Four yachts each more than 35 feet long Associated Press PLUNDERING: Residents loot merchandise Tuesday at the damaged Sunny Isle Shopping Center on St Croix were lifted from the water thrown over the sea wall and smashed against the stone face of Fort Chnstiansted The National Guard lost a UH-1 helicopter and two heavy trucks — they were crushed At Alexander Hamilton Airport a huge steel fuel tank was blown across the double runway and onto the US Customs shed destroying the building On Culebra an island of Puerto Rico 20 miles east of the mam island the scene was more of the same Homes were leveled Dead cows and horses littered the fields And everywhere there were the savaged hulks of beached vessels Hundreds came to Culebra’s harbor known as a “hurricane hole” because it usually is safe in bad weather Hundreds lost their ships Yachts of all shapes and sizes littered thq beaches and thrust from dark mangroves Gloria Costa’s husband Howard was one of many sailors who tried to ride out the storm As the waves rose his 32-foot sailboat was rocked Then another boat broke loose and smashed a hole through the Costa yacht Costa dove into the storm surge and was smashed against a tree There he clung for two hours until he could stagger to shore Said Gloria Costa: “I was so scared somebody would fish this body out of the water and turn it over and it would be him”

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