Sept 3 The U.S. East Coast faces a potential mix
of dangerously high winds and heavy rains over the long holiday
weekend as Tropical Storm Hermine plowed up the Atlantic Coast
on Saturday, leaving a path of destruction in Florida, Georgia
and the Carolinas.
Tropical storm and flooding watches and warnings were in
effect along the Atlantic seaboard from South Carolina north to
Rhode Island as the potentially life-threatening storm moved
along a stretch inhabited by tens of millions of Americans.
"Hermine not only threatens to foil weekend getaways at the
beach, but has the potential to cause damage in some communities
and pose risk to the lives of those who venture in the surf or
on the seas," said Alex Sosnowski, a meteorologist, on
The storm was projected to creep north along the Carolina
coast, then gather strength after moving offshore into the
Atlantic on Saturday morning, possibly reaching near-hurricane
intensity by late Sunday, the National Hurricane Center said.
The threat of severe weather caused officials in Atlantic
City to cancel concerts over the weekend and beaches to close in
several coastal communities.
Labor Day weekend plans for thousands of vacationers who
were headed to popular beach spots along the Atlantic seaboard
were dampened after the storm battered Florida's $89 billion
"We'll probably stay inside watching movies or going to the
movie theater," Joan Whalen told an ABC affiliate in Virginia
after canceling plans to head to the beach for the weekend.
Hermine, the first hurricane to make landfall in Florida in
11 years, swept ashore early on Friday near the Gulf shore town
of St. Marks, 20 miles (30 km) south of the capital of
Tallahassee, packing winds of 80 mph (130 kph) and churning up a
devastating storm surge in coastal areas.
As of 2 a.m. EDT, the fourth named storm of the 2016
Atlantic hurricane season was about 115 miles (185 km) west of
Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, where 60 mph (95 kmh) winds were
reported, the hurricane center said.
Early Saturday morning, crews in Wilmington, North Carolina
rescued several people who were sitting on top of their vehicle
after a flood engulfed their street, photos from local media
showed. At least one tornado was reported touching down in North
Carolina on Saturday, causing at least one injury, local media
On Friday the storm passed near Myrtle Beach, South
Carolina, leaving some 51,000 power outages across the state,
said state emergency management spokesman Derrec Becker.
Becker said localized flooding hit low-lying areas across
the state, and there were widespread reports of "downed power
lines, downed trees, trees on cars and some flooded cars," along
with isolated incidents of tree-damaged homes.
A total of about 150,000 households were without power in
Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas, utility companies reported
Emergency declarations remained in effect for all or parts
of Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland.
Overnight, crews in Pasco County, Florida, rescued more than
a dozen people after their homes were flooded.
Richard Jewett, 68, was rescued from his home in New Port
Richey, just north of Tampa, as emergency teams carried out a
"The canal started creeping up toward the house, and even
though it wasn't high tide it looked like it was coming inside,"
One storm-related death was reported by authorities in the
northern Florida town of Ocala, where a fallen tree killed a
homeless man sleeping in his tent.
In addition to powerful winds extending up to 185 miles (295
km) from its center, Hermine was expected to unleash a dangerous
storm surge in the Hampton Roads area of tidewater Virginia,
where flooding could become 3 to 5 feet deep, the NHC warned.
The storm also could douse several southeastern and
mid-Atlantic states with up to 15 inches (38 cm) of rain through
Sunday, the agency said.
New Jersey, still mindful of devastation from superstorm
Sandy in 2012, was on high alert as emergency officials advised
residents to prepare for flooding, high winds and a surge of
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Friday activated his
state's emergency operations center and ordered officials to
stockpile resources, including sandbags and generators.
New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio said residents should
avoid beach waters for fear of life-threatening riptides.
In Florida, concerns over the standing water in which
mosquitoes breed intensified as the state battled an outbreak of
the Zika virus.
(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Gareth