Caroli­nas clawed

Storm takes aim at Outer Banks for pos­si­ble land­fall

The Morning Call - - FRONT PAGE - By Meg Kin­nard

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Hur­ri­cane Do­rian sideswiped the Caroli­nas with shriek­ing winds, tor­na­does and side­ways rain Thurs­day as it closed in for a pos­si­ble di­rect hit on the dan­ger­ously ex­posed Outer Banks. At least four deaths in the South­east were blamed on the storm.

Twis­ters spun off by Do­rian peeled away roofs and flipped trail­ers, and more than 250,000 homes and busi­nesses were left with­out power as the hur­ri­cane pushed north along the coast­line, its winds weak­en­ing to 105 mph by evening. Trees and power lines lit­tered flooded streets in Charleston’s his­toric down­town. Gusts top­ping 80 mph hit some ar­eas.

The dam­age from the same storm that mauled the Ba­hamas was mer­ci­fully light in many parts of South Carolina and Ge­or­gia as well, and by midafter­noon many of the 1.5 mil­lion peo­ple who had been forced to evac­u­ate in three states were al­lowed to re­turn.

Still, fore­cast­ers warned that Do­rian could run straight over North Carolina’s Outer Banks — the thin line of is­lands that stick out from the U.S. coast — late

Thurs­day or early Friday. To the north, Vir­ginia was also in harm’s way, and a round of evac­u­a­tions was or­dered there.

“We have a long night ahead of us. Every­one needs to stay in a safe place and off the roads un­til the storm passes,” said North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper.

Af­ter leav­ing at least 20 peo­ple dead when it slammed the Ba­hamas with 185 mph winds, Do­rian swept past Florida at a rel­a­tively safe distance, grazed Ge­or­gia, and then hugged the South Carolina-North Carolina coast­line.

“I think we’re in for a great big mess,” said 61-year-old Les­lie Lanier, who de­cided to stay be­hind and boarded up her home and book­store on Ocra­coke Is­land on the Outer Banks, mak­ing sure to move the vol­umes 5 to 6 feet off the ground.

The Na­tional Hur­ri­cane Cen­ter forecast as much as 15 inches of rain for the coastal Caroli­nas, with flash-flood­ing likely.

In Charleston, a his­toric port city of hand­some an­te­bel­lum homes on a penin­sula that is prone to flood­ing even from or­di­nary storms, Do­rian top­pled about 150 trees, swamped roads and brought down power lines, of­fi­cials said, but the flood­ing and wind weren’t nearly as bad as feared.

Do­rian ap­par­ently spawned at least one tor­nado in North Myr­tle Beach, South Carolina, dam­ag­ing sev­eral homes, and an­other twister touched down in the beach town of Emer­ald Isle, North Carolina, man­gling and over­turn­ing sev­eral trailer homes in a jum­ble of sheet metal. No im­me­di­ate in­juries were re­ported.

In coastal Wilm­ing­ton, North Carolina, just above the South Carolina line, heavy rain fell hor­i­zon­tally, trees bent in the wind and traf­fic lights swayed as the hur­ri­cane drew near.

The four deaths at­trib­uted to the storm took place in Florida and North Carolina. All of them in­volved men who died in falls or by elec­tro­cu­tion while trim­ming trees, putting up storm shut­ters or oth­er­wise get­ting ready for the storm.

At 5 p.m. EDT, Do­rian was cen­tered about 45 miles south­east of Myr­tle Beach, South Carolina, mov­ing at 10 mph with max­i­mum sus­tained winds of 105 mph. Hur­ri­cane-force winds ex­tended about 60 miles from its cen­ter.

As it closed in on the East­ern Se­aboard, Navy ships were or­dered to ride out the storm at sea, and mil­i­tary air­craft were moved in­land. More than 700 air­line flights sched­uled for Thurs­day and Friday were can­celed. And hun­dreds of shel­ter an­i­mals were air­lifted from coastal South Carolina to Delaware.

By mid­day Thurs­day, coastal residents in Ge­or­gia and some South Carolina coun­ties were al­lowed to go back home.

Still, South Carolina Gov. Henry Mc­Mas­ter warned of new dan­gers ahead.

“Don’t be sur­prised if there was wa­ter in your home, you might have an­i­mals, snakes. You don’t know what might be in there, so be very care­ful as you re­turn,” he said.

In the Ba­hamas, search-and-res­cue op­er­a­tions and an in­ter­na­tional hu­man­i­tar­ian ef­fort to help the vic­tims picked up speed Thurs­day, with emergency of­fi­cials fan­ning out across the stricken ar­eas and track­ing down peo­ple who were miss­ing or in dis­tress. Crews be­gan clear­ing streets and set­ting up dis­tri­bu­tion cen­ters for food and wa­ter.

A British Royal Navy ship docked in the Abaco is­lands dis­trib­uted supplies to hur­ri­cane sur­vivors. The United Na­tions an­nounced the pur­chase of 8 tons of ready-to-eat meals and said it will pro­vide satel­lite com­mu­ni­ca­tions equip­ment and air­lift stor­age units, gen­er­a­tors and pre­fab of­fices to set up lo­gis­tics hubs for help­ing the es­ti­mated 76,000 peo­ple who will need food and other re­lief.

In Grand Ba­hama, a Royal Caribbean cruise ship dropped off 10,000 meals, 10,000 bot­tles of wa­ter and more than 180 gen­er­a­tors, as well as di­a­pers and flash­lights.

Crews in Grand Ba­hama worked to re­open the air­port and used heavy equip­ment to pick up branches and palm fronds. Lines formed out­side gas sta­tions and gro­cery stores.

To­tal prop­erty losses, not in­clud­ing in­fra­struc­ture and au­tos, could reach $7 bil­lion, the firm Karen Clark & Co. es­ti­mated.

TOM COPELAND/AP

Emer­ald Isle town em­ploy­ees work to clear the road af­ter a tor­nado hit Emer­ald Isle N.C., as Hur­ri­cane Do­rian moved up the East Coast Thurs­day.

JULIA WALL/THE NEWS & OB­SERVER

Waves pound the Bogue In­let Fish­ing Pier in Emer­ald Isle, North Carolina, as Hur­ri­cane Do­rian moves north off the coast.

JULIA WALL/TNS

Bill Bai­ley, as­sis­tant chief of the Emer­ald Isle Po­lice De­part­ment, walks past a tor­nado dam­aged trailer in the Hol­i­day Trav-l Park on Thurs­day in Emer­ald Isle, N.C.

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