Southeast braces for Hanna as Ike strengthens
- Southeast braces for Hanna as Ike strengthens
By KEVIN MAURER, Associated Press Writer 2 hours, 6 minutes ago
WILMINGTON, N.C. - Some Southeastern states declared emergencies and
officials urged residents to head inland Thursday as Tropical Storm Hanna
headed toward the Atlantic coast, where it could bring high winds and rain
from South Carolina to Maine.
Meanwhile, disaster planners eyed ferocious-looking Hurricane Ike
strengthening in the Atlantic. And with power outages and problems from
Hurricane Gustav lingering in Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi, the
Federal Emergency Management Agency and relief groups found themselves
juggling three storms.
Rain and wind from Hanna could start as early as Friday night in the South,
where some residents shuttered houses and stocked up on food and sandbags,
coastal parks closed, and schools canceled events and changed sports
schedules. Tropical storm watches and warnings were issued from Georgia to
near Atlantic City, N.J.
Forecasters expected Hanna to strengthen only slightly before making
landfall early Saturday, though hurricane watches remained for much of
coastal North and South Carolina.
The governors of Virginia and North Carolina declared states of emergency.
North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley urged residents to pay attention because
Hanna's path could change.
"No, you're not in the clear if you're not in the track we talked about
today," he said. "You're in the clear after the storm goes through and
didn't bother you."
In South Carolina, Gov. Mark Sanford urged people to leave flood-prone areas
and mobile homes in two northern counties by Friday afternoon.
Still, some scoffed at the storm that has killed at least 137 people in
Haiti. Instead, they turned to Ike, a Category 4 hurricane approaching the
Bahamas. FEMA was sending hundreds of truckloads of meals, water and other
supplies to the East Coast but also leaving resources on the Gulf Coast in
case Ike heads there.
"Ike looks like it's a very, very dangerous storm," said FEMA Administrator
The latest storms come on the heels of Gustav, which had some Louisiana
residents still without power and living in shelters several days later.
In 2004, Paulison, then the preparedness director of FEMA, said three major
hurricanes in just over a month strained but did not ultimately hobble the
agency's resources and staffing.
On Thursday, FEMA officials said they had sent teams to Louisiana to deal
with Gustav while others planned for Hanna.
FEMA's head of disaster operations, Glenn Cannon, said FEMA had deployed 700
ambulances for Gustav and was moving many east toward Florida.
He said Ike looks like Hurricane Andrew did in 1992 before it killed 23
people and did $26.5 billion in damage in Florida. But he warned not to look
"Everybody's a little tired right now, and, I think, would like to look past
Hanna, and we know Ike has us all concerned," he told The Associated Press.
"But Hanna can jump up and bite us."
The American Red Cross also was moving supplies, equipment and people. The
organization was borrowing money to cover Gustav expenses that could reach
more than $70 million and expects to go deeper into debt as it prepares for
the other storms, said Red Cross vice president Joseph Becker.
Hanna accelerated early Friday as it headed toward the southeast. Its
maximum sustained winds were at 65 mph. At 2 a.m. EDT, the storm was
centered about 490 miles south of Wilmington, N.C., and moving northwest
near 18 mph.
A tropical storm warning, meaning tropical storm conditions were expected
within 24 hours, was issued from the Savannah River in Georgia to the North
A hurricane watch was issued for Edisto Beach, S.C., to the Outer Banks of
North Carolina near the Virginia border. Tropical storm watches were issued
from the North Carolina/Virginia border to Great Egg Inlet, N.J., and from
the Savannah River south to Altamaha Sound, Ga. Watches mean conditions are
possible within 36 hours.
In North Myrtle Beach, S.C., few homes were boarded up, but vacationers
hastily packed bags.
"We've seen people boarding up today and the Coast Guard helicopters flying
overhead and decided it was time to go," said James Collins, of Cadillac,
Emergency managers in New England also planned for Hanna, which could hit
this weekend with heavy rain and strong winds. In Providence, R.I., workers
cleared storm drains and stocked up on sandbags and residents were urged to
"If nothing else it's a good dress rehearsal for Ike if Ike were to come,"
said Peter Judge, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Emergency Management
In Kure Beach, N.C., Jimbo Andrews nursed a soda while bartender Kassie
Jones made plans for a Friday night hurricane party. Andrews said he keeps
hurricane supplies at his house and planned to leave if Ike hit.
And Hanna? It looked to get him out of some yard work.
"No sense in going to the trouble when you got a storm coming," he said.
Associated Press writers Gary D. Robertson, Estes Thompson and Martha
Waggoner in Raleigh; Page Ivey, Susanne M. Schafer and Jim Davenport in
Columbia, S.C.; Jeffrey Collins in North Myrtle Beach, S.C.; Bruce Smith in
Charleston, S.C.; Ben Evans and Eileen Sullivan in Washington; and Karen
Testa in Boston contributed to this report.
Charles C. Primas
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