Desk Report (Channel TT): At least four people were killed as Tropical Storm Isaias spawned tornadoes and dumped rain Tuesday along the US east coast after making landfall as a hurricane in North Carolina, where it caused floods and fires that displaced dozens of people.
Two people died when Isaias spun off a tornado that struck a North Carolina mobile home park. Authorities said two others were killed by falling trees toppled by the storm in Maryland and New York City.
More than 15 hours after coming ashore, Isaias still had sustained top winds of 65mph. Mid-Tuesday afternoon, the storm’s center was about 65 miles west of New York City, where winds forced the Staten Island ferry and outdoor subway lines to shut down.
Forecasters said it would continue to inflict damage while moving into New England by late Tuesday.
New York City mayor Bill de Blasio issued a tornado watch through 4pm after the hurricane center reported numerous storms throughout the mid-Atlantic region, and by 1pm strong winds and rain were lashing New York.
Social media images showed tornadoes in Cape May, Marmora and Long Beach Island along New Jersey’s southern shore, as well as tornado damage in Dover, Delaware.
A tropical storm warning remained in effect from North Carolina to Maine.
Governor Roy Cooper of North Carolina spoke of “double trouble” on ABC on Tuesday morning as he described the state trying to evacuate and rescue people as the hurricane hit while also trying to minimize the risk of spreading coronavirus.
The state had to provide more shelters, at least two dozen opening, so those having to leave their homes because of flooding or fire caused by power outages, could try to keep socially distant, while having temperature checks and wearing masks.
Cooper urged those evacuating to turn to shelters as a last resort, citing coronavirus risks and the need to operate shelters at reduced capacity to allow for social distancing. “Whether it’s labeled a tropical storm or a hurricane, you should take this storm seriously, and make sure your family is ready,” he said.
“All in all this storm got in and got out pretty quickly,” he told ABC’s Good Morning America on Tuesday. He added: “We are saddened by the one fatality we know we have.”
The death occurred at a mobile home park, where structures were torn apart and cars blown on top of each other, and there were several people still missing on Tuesday afternoon.
At least three states are under a federal emergency declaration.
“We don’t think there is going to be a whole lot of weakening, we still think there’s going to be very strong and gusty winds that will affect much of the mid-Atlantic and the north-east over the next day or two,” said Robbie Berg, a hurricane specialist with the National Hurricane Center.
Forecasters had warned tornadoes were possible, and two were later confirmed, near Kilmarnock, Virginia, and Vienna, Maryland.
More than 600,000 customers lost electricity, most of them in North Carolina and Virginia, according to PowerOutage.US, which tracks utility reports.
In Suffolk, Virginia, near the coast, multiple homes were damaged by falling trees, and city officials received reports of a possible tornado. A fire station downtown sustained damage including broken windows. A photo posted by city officials showed a pile of bricks lying next to a damaged business.
The storm set off flooding and sparked five home fires in Ocean Isle Beach, Mayor Debbie Smith told WECT-TV. The town’s firefighters were battling the blaze with help from Horry county firefighters in South Carolina, Tony Casey, a spokesperson for Horry County Fire Rescue, told the Associated Press.
About 80 miles north of Ocean Isle Beach, about 30 people were displaced due to a fire at a condominium complex in Surf City, news outlets reported.
It is not clear if the fires were connected to the storm. No injuries have been reported.
Isaias toggled between tropical storm and hurricane strength throughout its path to the US coast, killing two people in the Caribbean and trashing the Bahamas before brushing past Florida.
Coastal shops and restaurants had closed early in the Carolinas, where power began to flicker at oceanfront hotels and even the most adventurous of beachgoers abandoned the sand on Monday night. The National Hurricane Center warned oceanside home dwellers to brace for storm surge up to 5ft (1.5 meters) and up to 8in (20cm) of rain in spots.
As the storm neared the shore, a gauge on a pier in Myrtle Beach recorded its third-highest water level since it was set up in 1976. Only Hurricane Hugo in 1989 and Hurricane Matthew in 2016 pushed more salt water inland.
News Source : Theguardian