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Tornadoes, flooding spawned by Hermes


LOUISIANA (Sept. 20) -- A tornado near this southern Mississippi town

Sunday morning, destroyed two mobile homes, as the remains of Tropical

Storm Hermes swirled inland. Just one minor injury, but other damage was

reported in the Pearl River County tornado.

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 storm.

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


"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


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


"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 week.

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.

Updated 8:30 p.m. September 20, 1998

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