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New winter storm wearies thousands

BY SUSAN KIM | WASHINGTON | January 31, 2000

The eastern half of the U.S. dug out from the second winter storm to sweep the region in a week.

With damage assessments still being reported, North Carolina appeared hardest hit. An unprecented two feet of snow in the state brought

recovery efforts from September's Hurricane Floyd "to a screeching halt," said Charlie Moeller, Church World Service disaster resource

facilitator.

Moeller and other interfaith leaders there are planning meetings to assess new damages and discuss how to reignite recovery.

Stan Hankins, associate director of Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, visited the towns of Rocky Mount, Tarboro, and Princeville -- all hard

hit by Hurricane Floyd. He also met with the Presbytery of New Hope, which is coordinating a two-county interfaith recovery effort to help

disaster survivors in those communities.

Hankins predicted that, this summer, it will be easier to recruit volunteers to help rebuild homes in North Carolina than it is in the current severe winter weather. "This summer, North Carolina will be the place to go (for volunteers). A key role of interfaith coalitions will be to coordinate these volunteer groups."

North Carolina Interfaith Disaster Response, a statewide nonprofit that fosters the development of local interfaith groups, has hired a new

executive director to handle day-to-day operations.

North Carolina Gov. Jim Hunt has requested a federal disaster declaration for 26 counties in that state. Thousands of residents, already weary with disaster from Hurricane Floyd, have to dig out their half-repaired homes before they can resume rebuilding.

Meanwhile many other eastern and southern states are still coping with delayed travel, hazardous road conditions, and power outages.

Atlanta was hit by its second ice storm in a week, with interchanges shut down and more than 20,000 homes without power, although most

utilities are now back on.

Though the onset of the storm was sudden, emergency management officials reported they were better prepared this time around. Icy

roads proved to be the biggest hazard, causing a 47-car pile-up in downtown Atlanta. Two deaths in Georgia were blamed on the storm.

Super Bowl fans, cautioned to stay off the roads until temperatures rose enough to melt the ice, were in full attendance at the game, though many arrived late.

President Clinton approved a disaster declaration for 30 Georgia counties late Friday. Last weekend's ice storm there caused some $55

million in damages.

Sleet and snow moved from Georgia into West Virginia, Kentucky, and Maryland, and then continued up the coast. Thousands of residents

in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Missouri, also continued to dig out.

Scientists from NASA, in a report released in January, said there could be more of these kinds of extremes in coming years because of a

fundamental shift in temperatures in the western part of the Pacific Ocean.

The Climate Prediction Center reported that, this winter, residents should look for below-normal temperatures in the northern states and

Alaska and above-normal temperatures in the lower half of the continental U.S. and Hawaii. Also, dry conditions will likely continue in the southern part of the country, with above-average snow and rain in the Pacific Northwest and the Northeast.

Weather extremes are already in evidence across the U.S. While snow covers Washington state's Cascade Mountains, the hillsides north of

Los Angeles are scorched black from brush fires, the result of a winter that is hotter and drier than normal.


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