Sep 1, 2010

Hurricane Earl to hit East Coast of U.S.: residents urged to prepare for possible evacuations

Residential area submerged due to Hurricane Earl in USA

U.S. residents urged to prepare for possible evacuations as powerful Hurricane Earl howled over open seas running toward the East Coast of the U.S.A.

The Category 4 hurricane, with winds of 135 mph (215 kilometers), was expected to remain over the open ocean before turning north and running parallel to the U.S. coast, potentially reaching the North Carolina coastal region by late Thursday or early Friday. It was projected then to curve back out to sea, perhaps swiping New England or far-eastern Canada.

"We can't totally rule out a very close approach to either of the Cape Hatteras areas or Cape Cod and southern New England as the storm progresses further," said Bill Read, director of the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami.
Earl delivered a glancing blow to several small Caribbean islands Monday, tearing roofs off of homes and cutting electricity to people in Anguilla, Antigua, and St. Maarten. Cruise ships were diverted and flights canceled across the region. But there were no reports of death or injury.

Gusty winds from Earl's outer fringes were whipping palm fronds and whistling through doors as Turks and Caicos Islands residents hunkered down in their homes and tied-down boats seesawed on white-crested surf.

In Puerto Rico, nearly 187,000 people were without power and another 60,000 without water, Gov. Luis Fortuno said. More than a dozen roads along the north coast remained closed as crews removed trees and downed power lines.

In St. Maarten, sand and debris littered the streets, and winds knocked down trees and electricity poles and damaged roofs. But police spokesman Ricardo Henson said there was no extensive damage to property.

In Antigua, at least one home was destroyed but there were no reports of serious injuries. Governor General Dame Louise Agnetha Lake-Tack declared Monday a public holiday to keep islanders off the road and give them a chance to clean up.

Katrina was the most destructive and costly natural disaster in U.S. history, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The National Hurricane Center (NHC) reported that the Category 5 hurricane killed a total of 1,833 people across five states, damaged more than 420,000 houses, and forced 1.2 million people to evacuate their homes.

Winds up to 135 mph tore off rooftops and four breached levees sent water gushing into the surrounding cities. Data from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reported that coastal cities suffered from 28-foot waves that penetrated six miles inland.

New Orleans today has been recovered after a five years combined endeavor of aid organizations, the federal government, and volunteers.But five years ago, it was a city of despair and destroyed buildings submerged under 12 feet of water, much like most of the Gulf Coast hit by Hurricane Katrina.

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