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Gulf Coast eyes hurricane, south FL views damage

As south Florida began assessing flood and wind damage, Gulf Coast states warily eyed Hurricane Katrina, which could intensify into a Category 4 storm before making a second U.S. landfall next week.

BY SUSAN KIM | BALTIMORE | August 26, 2005

As south Florida began assessing flood and wind damage, Gulf Coast states warily eyed Hurricane Katrina, which could intensify into a Category 4 storm before making a second U.S. landfall next week.

By Friday afternoon, Katrina’s winds had strengthened to 100 mph - a Category 2 hurricane - as the storm churned through the Gulf of Mexico. Forecasters indicated it would become a Category 3, with top sustained winds above 110 mph, by Saturday. It was expected to turn north and hit the Gulf Coast between Florida and Louisiana early next week. Projected tracks have taken a westward turn and now show the storm hitting near the Mississippi-Alabama border.

The storm made landfall in southeast Florida early Thursday evening, killing seven people. More than 2 million homes and businesses were without power on Friday. It hit along the Miami-Dade and Broward county line, where wind gusts up to 92 mph were reported. More than 2,000 people from the affected areas were in shelters on Friday.

Rain and tropical storm-force winds battered the Keys on Friday, and forecasters said rainfall totals could reach 15 to 20 inches in the Keys.

Several faith-based disaster response groups reported they were in contact with local churches and county-level responders to begin assessing damages and determine short-term and long-term needs. In addition to deploying response teams to south Florida, they also reported they were ready to send teams to the Gulf Coast in the wake of Hurricane Katrina’s second landfall.

The National Hurricane Center’s potential five-day forecast showed Hurricane Katrina making landfall near the Alabama-Mississippi border, then moving northeast through Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. If the storm takes this track, responders said inland flooding was a concern.


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