Loc: Dunedin, FL
Re: Hey Clyde...
Thu Oct 03 2002 12:51 AM
Interesting sites Steve...and some comments form our friends at AP...
By CAIN BURDEAU
.c The Associated Press
NEW IBERIA, La. (Oct. 2) - Nearly a half-million people in Louisiana and Texas were urged to clear out on Wednesday - some of them for the second time in a week - as a fearsome Hurricane Lili barreled toward the Gulf Coast with 140 mph winds.
``We have a real disaster in the making,'' said Max Mayfield, director of the National Hurricane Center in Miami. ``This is going to be the worst hurricane to hit the Louisiana coast since reconnaissance data has been available.''
Resort towns boarded up, along with all 12 of Mississippi's Gulf Coast casinos, NASA's Mission Control in Houston, the nation's biggest oil import terminal, and the Tabasco bottling plant near the Louisiana coast.
``I got a funny feeling,'' ranch hand Wilson Miller said as he stocked up on cigarettes and sandwiches at a gas station near Lafayette. ``When we get back it will be under water and there won't be anything left.''
Lili was expected to come ashore in Louisiana on Thursday afternoon as a major, destructive hurricane, Category 4 on the five-point scale. Forecasters warned that some areas could be inundated with 6 to 10 inches of rain and a life-threatening storm surge of up to 20 feet.
About 143,000 people were urged to leave the Louisiana coast, while in Texas officials advised the 330,000 residents in two counties surrounding Beaumont and Port Arthur to head inland because of the threat of a 9-foot storm surge.
``Destination? I have no idea. But it's going to be north,'' said Glen Guidry, who stopped at a gas station on Interstate 10 west of Lafayette with his wife and five children.
Gail Harrington, her son, daughter, six other relatives and a dog crammed into a compact car to drive as far from the coast as they could.
``We tanked it up. Wherever that gets us, we'll go,'' Harrington said at a grocery store in Delcambre, La., a small town a few miles from the water's edge.
Hurricane-force winds - which extended outward 45 miles from the center of Lili - were expected to reach up to 150 miles inland. At 5 p.m. EDT, Lili was 285 miles south of New Orleans.
In Texas, Gov. Rick Perry signed a disaster declaration and corrections officials moved more than 3,000 inmates to inland lockups.
The storm forced the shutdown of Mission Control in Houston, delaying for nearly a week Wednesday's shuttle launch 900 miles away at Cape Canaveral, Fla. It marked the first time in 41 years of manned spaceflight that bad weather in Houston delayed a Florida launch.
At Louisiana's Avery Island, home of Tabasco hot pepper sauce, the McIlhenny Co. shut down its lone bottling plant.
``We'll be closed as long as it takes to get our power back and let our people clean out their homes,'' said executive vice president Tony Simmons. But he said hot sauce lovers need not worry: ``We're not anticipating anyone running out of Tabasco.''
Officials in Iberia Parish, La., ordered an evacuation Wednesday, but some residents complained they had no transportation to leave.
``It's hard to open a shelter when you're going to have 10 feet of water in it,'' parish emergency director Jim Anderson said. He said the parish might open what he called ``last resort'' shelters Thursday for those unable to leave.
Grand Isle, the storm-vulnerable island south of New Orleans, ordered its 1,500 residents to get out even as workers completed repairs on a 2,500 section of levee washed out last week by Tropical Storm Isidore.
Nearby, Port Fourchon was also shutting down and evacuating. An estimated 16 percent of the nation's crude oil and 17 percent of its natural gas come from rigs and platforms that require access to the port.
LOOP, the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port about 20 miles off the coast, also closed. It is the biggest U.S. crude oil import terminal, handling about 1 million barrels of crude a day, or 11 percent of U.S. imports.
A hurricane warning stretched from just east of High Island, Texas, to the mouth of the Mississippi River in Louisiana.
Earlier, Lili barreled through the Caribbean, killing seven people and driving tens of thousands of Cubans from their homes.
Lili is headed for Louisiana less than a week after Isidore dumped more than 20 inches of rain and caused $100 million in flood damage.
While Isidore did its damage with rain, Lili's winds and storm surge were the major threats.
Mayfield, head of the hurricane center, compared the storm to Hurricane Audrey, which struck Texas and Louisiana in 1957 and had 12- to 13-foot storm surges that pushed inland as far as 25 miles. The surges were responsible for the vast majority of the 390 deaths.
Chuck Frazier, emergency management director in Texas' Beaumont-area Orange County, said many residents still have not forgotten.
``This storm brought back a lot of memories for Audrey,'' he said. ``They take it pretty seriously.''
10/02/02 21:02 EDT