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Tornadoes, flooding spawned by Hermes

BY DISASTER NEWS NETWORK | LA | September 20, 1998

Flash flooding was also a problem in Mississippi and Louisiana, but by late in the day flood warnings in

MS had been discontinued as the resulting low pressure made its way northeast into Alabama.

The eye of the tropical storm had passed over Cocodrie, LA -- about 70 miles southwest of New Orleans

-- about 11 p.m. Saturday night. It was the third tropical disturbance to hit Louisiana in as many weeks.

Coastal residents in that state had planned this weekend to continue to clean up after last week's

flooding caused by Tropical Storm Frances, but instead they were greeted by yet another tropical


In preparation for the storm, Grand Isle, the state's only inhabited barrier island was evacuated

Saturday for the third time in three weeks. About 1,500 people live on the island that is just five feed

above sea level. As the last residents departed, high sea water was already covering highways.

"The area has never really dried out from Frances," said Alan Johnson, a meteorologist for the National

Weather Service, who added that a lot of rain in a short time would cause major problems. More than

18-inches of rain in four days (Sept. 10-13) damaged about 800 homes in southern Louisiana.

Prior to Frances, the outer edge of Hurricane Earl raked the area Sept. 2, brought more than 6 inches of

rain and caused millions of dollars in damages.

"Louisiana is a mess," said Peggy Case of Catholic Charities and a disaster resource consultant for

Church World Service (CWS) following Frances. CWS sent clean up kits to help residents whose homes

were flooded.

Terrebone Recovery Assistance, a southern Louisiana interfaith, began mapping out response plans last


With a new storm coming so closely on Frances' heels, "It's going to add insult to injury," said Norman

Hein, a regional disaster facilitator for Church World Service.

Even as the rains and winds came ashore Saturday night, local officials added more sandbags to levees

that have already been severely tested this month. In the West Bank of Jefferson Parish, workers were

delivering an seemingly never-ending supply of sandbags and cleaning flooded canals.

In many cases, government employees haven't had a day off in more than two weeks, according to

Deano Bonano, administrative assistant for the parish.

While preparations were made to greet Hermine, some Gulf Coast disaster officials were expressing

concerns about the eventual track of Hurricane Georges. Described by weather forecasters as an

"extremely dangerous" Category 3 hurricane, it was following a track that could conceivably take it into

the Gulf of Mexico later in the week.

Additional tropical moisture will add to the woes of of residents from southeastern Texas to Florida.

Flooding has been reported in every coastal state during the past month. Quite apart from the affects of

Hermes, flood warnings were posted Sunday night in west central Florida where more than 7-inches of

rain fell in six hours earlier that day.

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