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Southeast braces for Hanna as Ike strengthens

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  • Charles C. Primas
    Southeast braces for Hanna as Ike strengthens By KEVIN MAURER, Associated Press Writer 2 hours, 6 minutes ago
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 5, 2008
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      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
      David Paulison.

      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
      past Hanna.

      "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
      Carolina/Virginia border.

      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
      buy supplies.

      "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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