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Bonnie finally goes out to sea

BY JIM SKILLINGTON | NORTH CAROLINA | August 29, 1998

Before finally going out to sea Friday afternoon, Hurricane Bonnie

smashed into the Virginia tidewater region tearing down trees, utility

lines and damaging homes and apartments. Two deaths were attributed to the

storm.

Although hundreds of homes from South Carolina to Virginia were damaged,

local officials said they have been surprised how little destruction was

left by the storm.

"We could not be more relieved," said Richard Moore, North Carolina's

secretary of public safety. "For whatever reason, the winds did

not do as much damage as expected."

And while utility crews and government agencies began to restore power

and other utilities, faith-based disaster relief organizations were

beginning the process to determine the most effective long-term response.

Emergency officials in North Carolina have begun to compile preliminary

reports of damage caused by the hurricane. Many local officials expressed

relief that initially it appears that Bonnie created less havoc in that

state than had been expected.

Lutheran Disaster Response (LDR), Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, and

the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) are among the

organizations that have already sent grants to North Carolina communities.

Other organizations are beginning to assess future needs in the affected

communities.

Gil Furst, LDR's director, and Charles Moeller, regional disaster

facilitator of Church World Service (CWS) were among those assisting

assessment teams.

According to preliminary reports, the most damage occurred along the

Cape Fear River south of Wilmington where the Hurricane first made landfall.

In several different communities near Wilmington, generators for sewage

treatment plants apparently failed during the storm releasing raw or

partially treated sewage into area streams.

In Carolina Beach and adjoining Hamby Beach, city officials said

Thursday night that six buildings and two trailers were destroyed and at

least 100 homes received major damage. More than 700 other homes had minor

damage.

Officials in Calabash in Brunswick County said at least 150 homes

received significant damage and a police spokesperson in Swansboro said the

small town had sustained at least $1.4 million in damage.

LDR, which is coordinating local services through North Carolina

Lutheran Family Services, also is bringing in a psychologist to give

pastors tips on administering emotional aid to survivors.

Meanwhile other response efforts include recovery teams toting chain

saws who are heading to Brunswick, Carteret, New Hanover and Onslow

counties courtesy of the North Carolina United Methodist Conference. The

organization is also directing attention to flooding concerns, said

conference disaster coordinator Rev. Jerry Jackson.

On Thursday President Clinton declared North Carolina a disaster area.

The declaration means that aid will be available to homeowners, businesses

and local governments that sustained damage from the storm. Ten counties --

Beaufort, Brunswick, Cateret, Currituck, Dare, Hyde, New Hanover, Onslow,

Pamlico and Pender -- were declared eligible for

Individual Family Grants.

Moving out to the Atlantic, rain and high winds are expected to affect

the coast as far north as Rhode Island. Tropical storm warnings were posted

along the coast. Flood watches have been posted for part of the eastern

shore of Maryland and northern New Jersey.

The hurricane season's fourth storm, Hurricane Danielle, appears to be

on a track that will steer it away from the U.S. coast hurricane

forecasters said Friday night. Meanwhile, weather officials were watching a

new tropical wave strengthen in the northwest Carribean.

Posted August 29, 1998


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