By Donna Leinwand, |
September 26, 2004
SEWALL'S POINT, Fla. (USA TODAY) — After the house stopped rattling and the rain let up Sunday morning, J. Williams Bew peeked out his front door and found a foot-long mullet in his driveway.
"It was just flip-flopping away," said Bew, 86, of Sewall's Point. Bew spent Sunday in calf-high galoshes, sloshing 18 inches of water from his garage.
Hurricane Jeanne landed on this peninsula between the Intracoastal Waterway and the St. Lucie River, around midnight, just three weeks after Hurricane Frances had barreled through.
Jeanne walloped the same six counties as Frances, darkening communities, cutting water supplies, leaving more than a million people without power and many others with out water and roofs. Many residents had only recently celebrated the return of electricity.
"You're going to have some areas that have been hit once, twice and sometimes maybe three times," said Michael Brown, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Utility crews from Florida Power & Light, already stretched thin from three previous storms, will have less help from outside this time. The out-of-state repair people who poured into the state to help during the previous three storms to hit Florida are now coming to the state in a trickle.
A spokeswoman for the power company said they've lined up 2,700 out-of-state repair people for Jeanne, compared with 8,000 who helped out after Frances.
More than 3,000 National Guard troops were also deployed to aid relief efforts.
ONGOING REPAIRS BLOWN AWAY
Even before the storm hit, the coastal stretch from North Palm Beach to Indian River was a sea of the blue tarps that cover damaged roofs after a hurricane. There hadn't been enough time or roofers to repair the damage wrought by Frances before Jeanne hit.
Frances damaged about a quarter of the mobile homes at the Ridgeway Park in Hobe Sound, resident Pat Charoustie, 71, said. Driving around Sunday, he said the devastation was complete.
"There's isn't one trailer there that was spared damage," he said. "It's getting kind of old. People are getting sick of it. Nerves are getting frayed."
But Charoustie, a year-round resident, won't leave. "A few hurricanes don't scare me," he said.
Weariness had set in as residents mopped up again, hauling soaked mattresses to the curb, raking debris from their lawns and setting up grills to cook thawing meat before it rots.
"I'm so tired," said Diana Baker, 64, who spent Sunday cleaning black muck from her garage as her husband, Ruel, 79, gathered debris from their yard.
"You're just so mentally and physically exhausted," she said. "And we're the lucky ones. I just feel so sorry for the people who had so little to begin with."
Baker had learned some lessons from Frances. After spending almost a week without electricity, she endured long lines to purchase a generator. As the storm was bearing down she cooked chili, shrimp, a ham, and muffins — enough food to eat for a week. Then she and her husband waited out the storm with their neighbors, the Bews. She calls it "the most terrifying night of her life."
"The house was trembling," Martina Bew said.
"The house was shaking," Ruel Baker said. "I mean shaking. Not just a little, but for a long, long time. I thought any second the roof was going to blow."
The Bews' roof had already been damaged during Frances, when a eucalyptus tree landed on it. The roofers had yet to get around to fixing it. It leaked all night.
"We didn't have time to recover from Frances," Martina Bew said. "We were just trying to finish up."
FLYING BENCHES, FENCES
At the Bakers, a wall of water from Frances lifted away a 200-foot fence and waves carved a 2-foot-deep trench along the seawall. The 20% of the fence rebuilt between the storms blew away Sunday morning. "It's all gone. It disappeared. I have no idea where it is," Ruel Baker said.
The two Sewall's Point houses, neighbors on a canal, were testaments to Jeanne's Category 3 power. Their yards showcased debris carried from Hutchinson Island, across the waterway and onto the peninsula. A bench on the Bakers' property blew across the canal into a neighbor's yard. Heavy, bolted fences landed in 10-foot spans on the Bakers' lawn.
"This is the price we pay for living in paradise," Ruel Baker said.
For many, dealing with the worst hurricane season in memory had become a routine of digging out, coping and making do.
Laura Lambert, 52, an occupational therapist, said she's prepared for living without electricity, especially since water is running.
"I think we're getting more used to it," said Lambert, whose house is fully stocked with candles and flashlights. "With the size of these storms and how powerful they are, we're just happy to be safe. This will definitely get old, but right now, it's just relief that it wasn't worse."
Contributing: Alan Levin in McLean, Va., and wire reports
Sept. 28 (Bloomberg) - Flood warnings and watches are in place in eight eastern U.S. states as the remains of Hurricane Jeanne, now a tropical depression, dump rain on South Carolina, a U.S. weather prediction service said.
Flood and flash flood warnings are in place in parts of central North Carolina and southwestern Virginia, while parts of six states, Georgia, South Carolina, Maryland, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New York are on flood watch, the Camp Springs, Maryland-based Hydrometeorological Prediction Center said in a 5 a.m. local time advisory.
Jeanne, which swept across Florida on Sept. 26, may cost insurers as much as $9 billion, adding to as much as $17.2 billion in damage from three preceding storms, according to AIR Worldwide Corp., which uses computer models to estimate insured losses.
President George W. Bush, in three separate requests, asked Congress for $12.2 billion to help areas affected by hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne, with the latest plea, for $7.1 billion, coming yesterday, according to a statement released by the White House.
``Jeanne continues to produce significant rainfall amounts through the Appalachians and Mid-Atlantic region,'' the center said in the advisory posted on its Web site. ``Rainfall amounts of three to five inches (eight to 13 centimeters) through Tuesday evening with isolated higher amounts are possible.''
TRAIL OF DESTRUCTION
Jeanne, the fourth hurricane to hit Florida in two months, left behind a trail of destruction and at least seven deaths, according to local officials. Hurricanes Charley, Frances and Ivan had already killed a combined 88 people in Florida, the Florida Emergency Response Team said in a statement yesterday.
The hurricane came ashore in Florida in an area already reeling from Hurricane Frances, which hit the state Sept. 5.
The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency plans to fly ice and water capable of filling 800 trucks into Florida airports, Director Michael Brown said yesterday. FEMA hopes to have damage estimates for Jeanne later this week, he said.
Bush declared the state a disaster area on Sept. 26 and FEMA officials said the relief effort for the four hurricanes was the biggest in the agency's history. Bush's latest aid request includes a provision for $4.5 billion for FEMA.
COST TO INSURERS
Jeanne may cost insurers $6 billion to $8 billion, storm modeler Eqecat Inc. estimated. Risk Management Solutions Inc., another storm modeler, estimated insurance claims of $4 billion to $8 billion, while AIR Worldwide Corp. projected damages of $5 billion to $9 billion. Insurers already face as much as $17 billion in damage from Hurricanes Ivan, Frances and Charley.
Jeanne's landfall marked the first time Florida has been hit by four hurricanes in one year since meteorological records for the state began in 1851, the National Hurricane Center said.
The storm was a Category 3 hurricane, with sustained winds of about 120 mph, when it slammed into the state Sept. 25 near Stuart, 98 miles (158 kilometers) north of Miami.
Jeanne, which swept through Haiti as a tropical storm last week, is blamed for the deaths of 1,500 people there, with 900 still missing. The storm then veered north into the open Atlantic Ocean before making a loop and heading toward the Bahamas.
Sept. 28, 2004
Atlanta, GA (CNN) - As Jeanne weakened and moved north, flooding continued to be the most serious threat.
Rainfall of 3 to 5 inches with isolated higher amounts can be expected along its path through Tuesday.
Valdosta in southern Georgia reported more than 5 inches of rain Monday.
Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue declared a state of emergency. Schools systems from Savannah to Augusta and west to Macon canceled classes.
Forecasters also warned of possible tornadoes from extreme eastern Georgia northeast through the Carolinas.
Thousands of airline passengers were stranded at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport because Florida airports were closed or traffic was backed up.
Some nurses trying to travel home to the Tampa area were told they would probably be stuck in Atlanta for at least three days.
FLOODS, FLOATING COFFINS LEFT IN JEANNE'S WAKE
Sept. 29, 2004
Atlanta, GA (CNN) - The remnants of Hurricane Jeanne moved north Tuesday, leaving collapsed buildings, flash floods and floating coffins in its wake.
The Associated Press reported two deaths in South Carolina were blamed on the storm and said coffins had washed to the surface at a south Georgia cemetery.
Leaving a staggering swath of destruction, Jeanne poured heavy rain into the southern Appalachians and mid-Atlantic states Tuesday. Tornadoes were reported across the South.
Jeanne, now a tropical depression, was moving northeast into Virginia, dumping as much as 12 inches of rain.
In Virginia, Patrick County Sheriff David Hubbard told the AP a victim was found downstream from her home after floodwaters washed it from its foundation.
Flood and flash flood warnings were in effect for parts of central North Carolina, southwestern Virginia and eastern West Virginia.
Flood and flash flood watches continued for portions of Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delmarva Peninsula, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York.
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS WERE ABOUT 30 MPH
In South Carolina, a man died after being thrown from his mobile home by an apparent tornado near Ridgeway, and a dozen others were treated at a hospital, The AP reported.
Another man was killed when his car went off a slick road near Winnsboro, South Carolina, the AP reported.
In North Carolina, the AP said buildings appeared to have been knocked down by at least six possible tornadoes. Cars were flipped and trees and power lines were down.
At Mount Mitchell, about 30 miles east of Asheville, North Carolina, along the Blue Ridge Parkway, the National Weather Service reported 4.75 inches of rain.
In Southern Pines, more than 100 buildings were damaged, according to initial reports from the AP.
Meanwhile, relief continued to flow into Florida and authorities said more was needed.
Jeanne was the fourth hurricane to make landfall in the state in six weeks, about 1.6 million customers remained without electricity. Utility officials said it could be as long as three weeks before all of the power is restored.
"We'll get most on," said Florida Power & Light spokesman Chuck Cain, "but to the last person, it will take that long."
Cain said help from other states "has been a little slow coming" because those other states still are dealing with the effects of their own bouts with Jeanne, or with Hurricane Ivan, which rambled through Alabama and into the Appalachians before slipping back down into the Gulf and then hitting Texas as a tropical storm.
"The utilities that we normally get contractors and line people from are still recovering from those storms themselves, and so, as they recover, we'll start to see the influx," he said.
Florida's worst problem appeared to be flooding. Officials in Osceola County, just south of Orlando, said they got 20 inches of rain as the storm passed, inundating areas already flooded from previous storms.
Some rivers, including the St. Mary's near MacClenny, the Suwannee at White Springs, the Withlacoochee at Trilby and the Peace at Fort Meade, were at four to five feet above flood stage -- and more water could be expected, both from the skies and from swollen streams upstream in Georgia.
Georgia power utility officials said about 52,700 customers still were without electricity, mostly in the southern part of the state where tropical storm force winds blew the storm in from Florida.
One Georgia official told the Associated Press the initial damage estimates from Jeanne were three times as bad as those from Hurricane Frances...
Sept. 18, 2004
JASON REEVES, Staff Writer for The Progress-Index
Petersburg, VA - During the past 12 months, hurricanes or their remnants have turned Central Virginia into a bullseye for some big storms.
We've lost power, waded in flood water, waited for gasoline, cleared fallen timber and realized why rain and wind are four-letter words. We've watched the Weather Channel, hunted for generators and vowed never to build a home in Florida.
According to State Climatologist Patrick Michaels, the record number of tropical storms to officially hit Virginia - to have their center pass through the state - in a single year is three. It happened in 1893, again in 1928 and has happened a third time in 2004, with Charley, Frances and Gaston, he said.
"We've had three, which ties the record," Michaels said from the state climatology offices at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. "If Ivan got in the state or Tropical Storm Jeanne comes ashore, where it's forecasted to, we could break the record."
NOT THAT VIRGINIANS ARE THE ONLY HURRICANE HATERS
This is the first year since 1940 that Florida has been hit by three major hurricanes, meteorologists say, and overall it's been an extremely busy Atlantic hurricane season, which runs June 1 through Nov. 30.
Seven of this year's tropical storms - out of nine named storms and 11 depressions - have made landfall on or near the Eastern Seaboard.
Across the board, the numbers are unusually high, said meteorologist Patrick Maloit of the National Weather Service.
"It's been extraordinarily busy on the tropical front on the amount making landfall on the eastern coast. This is not a typical season," said Maloit. "Usually, in the past 30 years, the vast majority of storms form and don't make landfall. This year we've had a very large number - now at the ninth named storm - and all but Earl, Hermine and two others didn't make landfall in 2004."
Weather experts say the active tropical season is coming from warmer than normal sea surface temperatures and an "active" phase of the Atlantic multi-decadal signal, the atmospheric and oceanic conditions that control hurricane activity over entire decades. An "active" signal is conducive to above normal tropical storm and hurricane activity, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Looking back, the Gulf of Mexico was alive with tropical storms throughout the 1930s and the Atlantic was in its active phase during the late '40s, '50s and '60s. Things turned mostly calm from 1970 until 1995, when the Atlantic signal became active once again, said meteorologist Maloit.
"In a sense, we're going back to patterns of the late '40s and '50s and '60s, definitely something that hasn't been seen for the past 40 or 50 years," he said.
"If the multi-decadal signal holds, we can expect active tropical seasons at least through the end of this decade."
SO VIRGINIA SHOULD BE PREPARED FOR MORE HURRICANES THROUGH 2010
The state could set a record number of tropical storms this year, in 2004, but damage will still pale in comparison to that caused by Isabel, last September, or the remnants of Hurricane Juan, in the fall of 1985, said state climatologist Michaels.
"We've had worse," he said.
ALEX BONNIE CHARLEY DANIELLE EARL FRANCES GASTON
HERMINE IVAN KARL LISA MATTHEW NICOLE
PHOTOS: CHARLEY FRANCES IVAN JEANNE
2004 Hurricane Briefs