Storm Leaves Louisiana, Pounds Coast of Alabama
Tropical storm Juan ended a deadly five-day siege of Louisiana today, skipped back to sea and then pounded the Alabama coast with 70-m.p.h. winds and flooding rains.
The late-season storm, which has already claimed seven lives and left six people missing, rumbled out of the Gulf of Mexico onto the Alabama coast near Gulf Shores at 12:30 p.m. EST.
“It’s almost like a ghoulish movie,” said Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards, who estimated that Juan had caused more than $1 billion in damage to property and crops in his state since Sunday. (Story, Page 18.) “It’s been terrifying and horrifying people for a number of days now,” he said.
Fishing boats on the Florida-Alabama coast raced to safe harbors and homeowners, still recovering from a beating by hurricane Elena last month, braced for another storm.
Hotel Wing Collapses
At Santa Rosa Island, Fla., the west wing of the two-story beachfront Dunes Hotel--closed since sustaining $500,000 damage from Elena--collapsed on the sand.
Florida Gov. Bob Graham cut short a trip to Washington and urged coastal residents to be ready to evacuate, as they did ahead of Elena during the Labor Day weekend.
Alabama Gov. George C. Wallace declared a state of emergency and the Emergency Management Agency opened shelters in coastal cities.
At least seven people have been killed by the sudden, late-season storm.
Neil Frank, director of the National Hurricane Center, said Juan was not expected to get stronger, but could produce hurricane-force winds in squalls.
At mid-day, Juan was near Gulf Shores and was moving northeastward at 15 to 20 m.p.h. Forecasters predicted it would weaken tonight as it moved inland across Alabama toward Georgia.
The storm spawned a tornado in Tampa, Fla., that damaged a citrus packing plant, a truck stop and a mobile home park and injured a woman.
“It was more scary than anything else,” Helen Shepard said of the twister. “I heard this vibrating wind and then the roof was gone.”
Louisiana residents were glad to see Juan depart and floodwaters begin to recede.
Eight-foot tides and 10 inches of rain sent floodwaters pouring over makeshift barriers, inundating 90% of the homes in some Louisiana communities and forcing 8,000 people to evacuate.