HURRICANE FRANCES, 2004
Sun 5 September, 2004
COCOA, Fla. (Reuters) - Storm-weary Floridians emerged from east coast hurricane shelters on Sunday as Hurricane Frances moved to the state's west coast after whipping off roofs, washing sailboats ashore and cutting power to 4 million people.
The hurricane virtually shut down the fourth-largest U.S. state, home to 16 million people, for two days and promised damage not only to buildings but to the state's economy on the usually busy Labor Day weekend, normally an end-of-summer bonanza for Florida's $53 billion tourism industry.
The state's largest population center and big Latin American business hub, Miami, escaped the worst of the storm but the impact on Orlando, the main tourist playground, was uncertain as massive Frances lumbered across central Florida.
The $9.1 citrus industry, badly damaged by Hurricane Charley three weeks ago, was likely to take another hard blow as the storm moved across the state's best growing regions.
Even as the large and slow-moving storm, from which 2.5 million people had been urged to flee, edged toward Tampa on the west coast, residents of east coast towns emerged from their hurricane cocoons to survey the damage.
In St. Lucie County, where the eye of the storm came ashore, National Guard troops patrolled to deter looters and enforce a 24-hour curfew.
Police and fire crews moved out into streets where Frances ripped off roofs, peeled away aluminum siding, tore boats from moorings, felled trees and shattered street signs and traffic signals. In Fort Pierce, sailboats washed into parking lots.
"There's damage but not total destruction," said county emergency management spokeswoman Linette Trabulsy. "Parts of roofs are gone. Trees are down, big trees that you wouldn't expect to be snapped in half."
A sinkhole opened up on Interstate 95, the region's main traffic artery, in Palm Beach County.
Frances was weakening, with top sustained winds of 75 mph, down from 105 mph on Saturday. But because it was lingering so long it increased the risk of flooding and was a test of endurance for millions of Floridians.
State emergency managers said there were no confirmed reports of storm-related deaths. Television reported one person in a shelter died of a heart attack as Frances howled ashore.
(Additional reporting by Marc Serota in West Palm Beach, Michael Peltier in Tallahassee, Frances Kerry, Jane Sutton and Jim Loney in Miami and Jui Chakravorty in New York)
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP - ABC)— The remnants of Hurricane Frances washed out water lines or sanitation systems in several mountain towns, leaving tens of thousands of people without drinking water early Thursday. Flooding throughout the Appalachian Mountains contributed to two deaths in Ohio.
As it lurched northward since striking Florida over the weekend, the storm brought heavy rainfall across much of the East, including up to 16.6 inches of rain in hard-hit western North Carolina.
More than 200 roads throughout the region were still impassable Thursday because of floods, debris or rock slides. Among them was the Blue Ridge Parkway, a scenic highway that links Smoky Mountains and Shenendoah national parks.
September 9, 2004
Having already brought soaking rains and flooding to more than 15 states, including Virginia and North Carolina, Tropical Depression Frances was bearing down on the Northeast and Canada Wednesday night.
It has spawned more reported tornadoes – at least 92 – than any other tropical storm or hurricane to hit the Eastern Seaboard, the Weather Service said. And more twisters were eported into the evening.
Eleven of those occurred in Virginia, 14 in North Carolina . There were no deaths or serious injuries reported, however, and most appeared to have been of minimal intensity.
Virginia Gov. Mark R. Warner declared a state of emergency after more than 8 inches of rain fell in southern and western sections of the commonwealth, where many roads were closed by flooding and several rivers were expected to creep toward their flood stages today.
In Hampton Roads, rain bands spiraling off the massive circulation of Frances brought showers and a few downpours, but there were no reports of flooding locally.
Keith Lynch , a meteorologist for the National Weather Service office in Wakefield, said one of the most serious tornadoes in Virginia hit Bowling Green in Caroline County, where it destroyed several homes.
The Weather Service said another tornado took the roof off a house in Aylett in King William County and pushed the home about 18 feet off its foundation.
In North Carolina, a tornado touched down about three times along a 3-mile path in Northampton County. It damaged a house and lifted an outbuilding and a vacant mobile home from their foundations.
“Tornados like this are typical with tropical depressions,” said meteorologist Brian Guyer.
Only one other tropical storm or hurricane has spawned more tornadoes in the United States.
IVAN JEANNE KARL LISA MATTHEW NICOLE
PHOTOS: CHARLEY FRANCES IVAN JEANNE
2004 Hurricane Briefs