Entries in Flooding (47)


Remnants of Lee Head North; Hurricane Katia Picks Up Strength

Cheryl Gerber/Getty Images(NEW ORLEANS) -- With Hurricane Katia picking up steam as it moves across the Atlantic Ocean, Tropical Depression Lee is moving up the East Coast after drenching parts of the deep South and leaving thousands without power.

On Monday, the skies over Louisiana were clearing after Lee, which made landfall as a tropical storm Sunday, dropped more than 14 inches of rain in some parts -- more than the state normally gets in a month.  Although the storm system was downgraded to a depression overnight, forecasters still warned of heavy rain and flooding.

In Mississippi, nearly 5,000 customers were reportedly without power.

In some parts of Louisiana, small boats were the only way to get around.  Winds knocked down trees and spawned water spouts.

The storm put New Orleans' post-Katrina flood protection to the test.  Some of the city's streets were flooded but the pumping system kept pace.  Evacuations appeared to be in the hundreds, not the thousands.

Before Lee was downgraded, the storm produced almost 20 tornadoes during the weekend in several Gulf Coast states.

Craig Staples told ABC News that it felt like Hurricane Katrina again.

"Not as bad, kind of scary," Staples said.  "It's a shock."

Meanwhile, Katia was downgraded to a Category 3 hurricane on Tuesday after becoming the first Category 4 storm of the 2011 Atlantic season overnight.  The hurricane is about 400 miles away from Bermuda with maximum sustained winds of 125 miles per hour.

According to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami, Katia is not expected to make landfall on the U.S. but could bring strong rip currents along the country's East Coast and Bermuda come Wednesday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Vermont Artist Helps Community Rebuild after Hurricane Irene

ABC News(WILMINGTON, Vt.) -- Ann Coleman has traded in a paintbrush for a broom.

The Wilmington, Vt., artist lost her art gallery when Hurricane Irene, on its last legs after battering the East Coast, walloped the state last week.  Her nearly $400,000 investment now lies in ruins more than two miles downstream.

"I wish I had flood insurance," Coleman said, "but I couldn't afford it."

The art gallery, once a prominent fixture on the city's main street, is now an empty space.  The storm caused the worst flooding in the state in 84 years, washing away bridges and roadways and cutting residents off from the outside world.

Because she and her husband are both self-employed, neither of them can collect unemployment.

"Our slate has been wiped clean literally," she told ABC News.  "People kept giving me condolences. ... I took a picture and then my eyes went back to where my building was supposed to be.  There was no yellow there and it was like it's gone.  It's completely gone."

She and her husband decided not to spend time thinking about their own losses and focused on their neighbors.

"It seems selfish not to do that," said her husband, Joe Coleman, whose real estate business was also ruined by the deluge.  "If our building were still there and we needed help, everyone would be helping us."

"Our generator, we were going to use it because we were out of power at home," Ann Coleman told ABC News.  Instead, she gave it to a neighbor.  Coleman is also giving away vegetables from her backyard and doling out emotional support.

She and Joe say they barely have enough time to pick up the pieces of their own lives.

"Everybody has helped us along the way, so do unto others as you would have them do unto you," she said.  "It's all about doing things and being the best you can be.  We'll keep on keeping on."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Tropical Storm Lee Bears Down on Gulf Coast

Cheryl Gerber/Getty Images(NEW ORLEANS) -- Tropical Storm Lee beared down on the Gulf Coast Sunday morning with wave after wave of hard rain.

Thousands of customers lost power in Louisiana and Mississippi. The storm has also generated mandated evacuations in Louisiana bayou towns.

The center of Tropical Storm Lee was on the coast of southern Louisiana with maximum sustained winds of 45 miles per hour Sunday morning.

However, conditions won’t change much just because the center is on the coast, since the center isn't where the strongest winds are located.

"In this case it's not so important to focus on the center. The center is on the coast and it's going to be moving inland in the next several hours," said Todd Kimberlin with the National Hurricane Center. "In this case all the front winds are well removed from the center."

Low lying coastal areas were flooded, making some roads impassable by vehicle, and only navigable by paddle.

Jean Lafitte, La. resident Mike Lavelle's home has been turned into an island, surrounded by water.

"I knew this was going to happen sooner or later. I was hoping it didn't happen but it has happened," Lavelle said.

For Lavelle and so many who weathered Hurricane Katrina just six years ago, all of this, is all too familiar.

Jean Lafitte Mayor Tim Kerner is hoping sandbag barriers will save his small town in southeast Louisiana.

Tropical Storm Lee may come and go, but Kerner's not going anywhere.

"If they made everybody leave, I'd buy a house boat and stay here," Kerner said. "I mean I love this area and it's worth fighting for. We're down right now, but this community's not giving up."

Down the street, Jean Lafitte resident Laura Melancon is paddling her way home.

"We're like stuck with our cars and we can't really move around a lot," Melancon said.

With the center now on shore, West End resident Phillip Boudreaux said he isn't optimistic that the bad weather will stop anytime soon.

"I don't think it's over yet. I think it's going to get worse before it gets better," Boudreaux said.

Throughout the region, people spent the holiday weekend working overtime to protect their homes.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu told residents to remain vigilant.

Tropical Storm Lee's heavy rains still pose the threat of more extensive flooding or flash flooding to the Gulf Coast.

"Some chance that the rain will persist today and tomorrow and add to the totals which have already fallen and then the storm is expected to lose tropical characteristics and become post tropical," said Kimberlin.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Best States for Avoiding Expensive Weather Disasters

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The damage inflicted by Hurricane Irene is expected to reach $7.2 billion across eight states and Washington, D.C., with $1 billion estimates for New York State alone, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

If this grim news has left you wondering which states are least likely to have expensive weather-related disasters, recent data suggests your best chance of avoiding them requires leaving the mainland for either Alaska or Hawaii.

According to the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), between 1980 and 2010, Hawaii and Alaska had the fewest costly weather-related catastrophes.

The NCDC only tallied disasters producing damage estimates totaling more than $1 billion, including insured and uninsured losses.

Adam Smith, a physical scientist who played a key role in integrating the different data sets used in the NCDC report, put out a new map on the website Thursday afternoon, reflecting 2011 data.

“The new map that incorporates the 10 events from this year still shows the South and Southeast have the highest number of billion-dollar weather disasters,” Smith said.

He cautioned one ‘event’ can affect several different states, so a weather disaster tallied in one state might be the same as the weather disaster tallied in another state.

In Alaska, wildfires spurred by drought during 2006, 2007 and 2008 took their toll, and in Hawaii, during September 1992, a category 4 hurricane hit the Hawaiian island of Kauai resulting in seven deaths.

Of course, in both states you may still have to contend with earthquakes.  Alaska has had more earthquakes than any other state, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, and Hawaii ranks third.

On the continental United States, Michigan, Maine and Vermont have had the fewest expensive weather-related disasters.  But as Hurricane Irene demonstrated, recent severe flooding in Vermont suggests nothing can be taken for granted, especially as new, extreme weather patterns continue to develop.

Regardless, Smith said, the coasts -- particularly in the South -- will continue to experience some of the biggest weather-related losses.

The states with the most weather-related disasters topping more than $1 billion are Texas, Missouri, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and South Carolina, which each had at least 31 expensive events in the past 30 years.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Hurricane Irene Death Toll Rises to over Three Dozen Amid Floods

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Flooding across parts of the East Coast is still a major issue in Hurricane Irene's wake, as the death toll rises to over three dozen across seven states, and thousands have found themselves stranded and without electricity for days to come.

Vermont is currently experiencing the worst flooding the state has seen in 84 years, which has the governor calling for "all the help we can get."  At least two people are dead and one is missing in the state beset with washed-out bridges and destroyed roadways.

Roads to a number of communities in the state remain cut off due to the flooding.  A total of a dozen bridges have been lost so far, including some of the state's iconic covered bridges.

Almost a foot of rain was dumped on Vermont as Irene passed through.  Rivers were already high from a wetter than average summer and heavy snowfall in the winter.

All Vermont state offices are closed, and the National Guard has deployed six rapid response teams.

"This event unfolded much faster than anyone anticipated," Vermont National Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Lloyd Goodrow said.

President Obama signed an emergency declaration for Vermont Monday morning.

"We're continuing to deal with the impact and the aftermath of Hurricane Irene," Obama said Monday.  "We're going to make sure folks have all the support they need as they begin to assess and repair the damage left by the storm."

In Little Falls, New Jersey, floodwaters are covering cars, and the city has set up a shelter for the 400,000 families that live in this area to ride out what will be an incredibly anxious night.  The water rose at 2 inches an hour by one estimate.

"We're not out of the woods yet regarding this storm," Gov. Chris Christie told a gathering at the Raritan River in Manville, New Jersey.  He said waters had hit record levels at nine locations and warned that the Passaic River had not yet crested.

The Ramapo, Pompton and Pequannock rivers in Wayne, New Jersey are also expected to crest sometime Tuesday.  These rivers will remain at "major flood" levels through Thursday.

Although New York City managed to avoid a wallop from the storm, inland towns and counties upstate saw more than 13 inches of rain as the storm pummeled parts of the Hudson Valley.

Fallen branches and demolished bridges have hindered road travel across the area, while at least three towns in New York remain cut off by flooded roads and bridges.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Irene Moves On: Rains, Floods Inundate New England

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Severe weather warnings for the East Coast of the United States are now over as Hurricane Irene has been downgraded again and is no longer a tropical system.

Irene was downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm and spared New York City the devastation many predicted, but it has not been so kind to the towns and cities in its path as it moved inland Sunday.

The force of the storm's winds diminished Sunday, but the torrential rains did not let up, swelling rivers and streams until they burst their banks in upstate New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont.

Downtown Windham, New York was "wiped out" by flooding, with four feet of water rushing through Main Street, said Michael Scarey, the town's fire chief.

Torrential rains that started Saturday night dumped more than 10 inches of water on the normally quiet community, forcing evacuations, submerging school buses and garages, and shutting off access to the rest of the mountaintop.

West of the town, a house was ripped from its foundation and swallowed by the fast moving creek, which slammed it into a bridge.

There were similar scenes in other river towns in the storm's path Sunday, and it is feared that things will only get worse as rivers peak.

In Vermont, Brattleboro, Bennington, Montpelier and other towns had flooding from swollen rivers.

Irene did not cause quite the level of destruction many feared as it churned up the East Coast this weekend, but it packed enough punch to leave at least 20 dead, millions without power and an estimated $7 billion to $13 billion in damages.

After roaring through coastal North Carolina on Saturday, Irene raked the coasts of Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey before hitting New York Sunday morning as a tropical storm with 65 mph winds.  By 10 a.m. Sunday, patches of blue sky and sunshine began peeking through in lower Manhattan.

In New York City, the 370,000 residents who were ordered to evacuate their homes were allowed to return on Sunday beginning at 3 p.m.

Close to 2 million people lost power in the New York City area.  The National Grid reported that 19,000-plus homes in Rhode Island lost power, and 6,000-plus homes were without power in Massachusetts.

In lower Manhattan at Wall Street and South Street, water from New York's East River breached the seawall Sunday morning, but has since receded.

Some areas are still prone to tidal flooding and heavy rains will be the ongoing issue as the storm passes through New England Sunday to eastern Canada overnight, FEMA officials said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Flood Waters Breach Berm at Nebraska Nuclear Power Plant

ABC News(MINOT, N.D.) -- A berm at a nuclear power plant in Fort Calhoun, Nebraska collapsed early Sunday morning, allowing Missouri River flood waters to reach containment buildings and transformers and forcing the shutdown of electrical power.

As of Sunday night, backup generators were cooling the nuclear material at the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station.  The plant has not operated since April, and officials say there is no danger to the public.

Nevertheless, federal inspectors are on the scene, and the federal government is so concerned that the head of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is headed to the plant.

Meanwhile, there was no protecting thousands of homes in Minot, North Dakota, where massive flooding of the Souris River hit its peak Sunday, flooding more than 4,000 homes.

There is some good news: The river in Minot peaked two feet lower than expected.  However, it is nearly 13 feet above flood stage and it is expected to stay near that level for days.

"It could be two to four to six weeks, or more, before the water actually goes back into it's banks ... [and] before [residents] get to come and see their houses," Brig. Gen. Bill Seekins of the North Dakota National Guard told ABC News during a tour through the flooded areas.

Seekins described the scene as "almost apocalyptic."

Minot Mayor Curt Zimbelman said the devastation may be even greater than expected.

"I think we're going to reach probably 4,500 [homes] before this is all done, where we've got a lot of water on these homes," Zimbelman said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


North Dakota Floods: Concern Over Impact on Agriculture

Scott Olson/Getty Images(MINOT, N.D.) -- Massive flooding of the Souris River has swamped more than 4,000 homes in Minot, North Dakota, but flood levels seem to have peaked.

The Souris River is cresting at two feet lower than expected at 13 feet above flood stage.

However, Minot Mayor Curt Zimbelman said the devastation may be even greater than expected.

"I think we're going to reach probably 4,500 before this is all done where we've got a lot of water on these homes," said Zimbelman.

Sergeant Dave Dodds of the North Dakota National Guard said heavy rains on Saturday will lead to the river remaining at its historic crest for longer than expected.

"Authorities were hoping for maybe a day or two before it started to recede, but you can add maybe an additional 24 hours onto that," Dodds said.

Forecasters said scattered storms are in Sunday's forecast, but the worst part of the storm will likely to be south and east of the Souris River Basin.

Officials were building and re-enforcing levees in the towns of Sawyer and Velvenau in fear that all the water that has been coming through Minot will swamp the two towns.

Those in the agriculture industry across the state have been hit hard by the flooding, with North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple saying that flooding and above-average snowfall during winter have had an adverse impact on agricultural production.

Dalrymple has requested that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) begin assessing the damages inflicted on crops by flooding and the production losses suffered as a result of severe weather condition. This request serves as the first step in seeking a secretarial disaster declaration, which would make supplemental disaster assistance and other USDA programs available to help farmers and ranchers affected by the flooding, according to a release from the governor’s office.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


North Dakota Residents Flee as Historic Flood Waters Rise

File photo. Hemera Technologies/Thinkstock(MINOT, N.D.) -- Residents of Minot, N.D., have now resigned themselves: the Souris River will overflow, and the city will flood. More than 11,000 residents, nearly a quarter of the population, have already been forced to flee as waters rise towards historic levels and submerge entire neighborhoods.

"We could have a really catastrophic type of event here. We will -- there is no doubt about it anymore. I think people have to understand if you were on the edge before you may not be on the edge now," Curt Zimbelman, mayor of the town of 41,000, told evacuees Wednesday night.

ABC News Fargo affiliate WDAY filmed a submerged neighborhood where 15-20 homes are completely surrounded by water in the southwest part of Minot.

Minot is also home to more than just families - Minuteman III nuclear missile silos are also in the flood's path. At least two silos are being protected by sandbags and pumps, but are reported to be safe.

"We are already higher than the historic flood of 1969 and based on current predictions we will crest seven feet higher than we did in 1969 and about five feet higher than ever recorded going back to the flood of 1881," Zimbelman told ABC News. "These levels are above any rating curves than the National Weather Service has dealt with in the past."

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is releasing pent-up water from the Lake Darling Dam, which will push water downstream towards Minot at 17,000 cubic feet per second -- more than three times the record flow rate before this year. Those raging waters are expected to start pushing against the makeshift Minot levees rated to withstand water flows of up to about 9,500 cfs on Thursday or Friday, according to WDAY.

The Souris River, which loops down from Canada through north-central North Dakota, has been bloated by heavy spring snowmelt and rain. It is not expected to crest until Sunday or Monday.

Minot is expecting the worst flooding it has seen in nearly four decades, when severe flooding of the Souris River devastated the city in 1969. The same river reached 1,555.4 feet above sea level during that destructive flood time, and this time it could reach 1,563 feet.

This is the second time Minot residents have had to flee their homes. About 10,000 people were told to evacuate potentially affected areas earlier this month when the river climbed to 1,554 feet. They were eventually allowed to return, but were told to remain on high alert. Many of the same people have now been forced back out of their homes.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Sirens Blare as Flooding Hits North Dakota

Hemera Technologies/, N.D.) -- Sirens blared Wednesday in Minot, N.D., as the overflowing Souris River floods over the top of local levees five hours before the evacuation deadline for 11,000 residents. Farther south, the overflowing Missouri River has put two nuclear power plants at risk, necessitated evacuations and produced a travel nightmare as interstate highways shut down.

"What I see right now is probably the most devastating in terms of the number of people directly impacted and what will likely be the damage to homes as the water begins to overtop the levees and fill in behind," National Guard Cmdr. Dave Sprynczynatyk said Wednesday.

Nearly 500 North Dakota National Guard soldiers are in the town of 41,000 people to help the last stragglers in the affected area get out of harm's way. They are accompanying the roaring sirens with shouts of "All residents must evacuate!"

"We've never seen anything like what we're expecting," Minot Mayor Curt Zimbleman told ABC News. The mayor had warned residents previously Wednesday that the river could top the levees earlier than expected, and has been urging residents to leave potentially affected areas.

Minot is expecting the worst flooding it has seen in nearly four decades, when severe flooding of the Souris River devastated the city in 1969. The same river reached 1,555.4 feet above sea level during that destructive flood time, and this time it could reach 1,563 feet.

This is the second time Minot residents have had to flee their homes. About 10,000 people were told to evacuate potentially affected areas earlier this month when the river climbed to 1,554 feet. They were eventually allowed to return, but were told to remain on high alert as heavy rain and the spring melt have swollen the river as it curves down from Canada.

For the second time in as many months, the Cass County Sheriff's Department airboat squads have been deployed to western North Dakota.

Farther south, the Missouri River is creating trouble in the area where the states of Missouri, Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska converge.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is closely watching conditions along the Missouri River where floodwaters are rising at Cooper Nuclear Station and the Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant in Nebraska.

The Fort Calhoun plant was shut down on April 7 for a refueling outage, and operators decided not to restart it until flooding had subsided. The Cooper plant was shut down for an "unusual event" on June 19. Although the Fort Calhoun plant was shut down on June and is surrounded by an eight-foot-tall and 16-foot-wide protective berm, two feet of water has already made its way to several areas of the Fort Calhoun plant. However, authorities say there is no immediate danger at either plant.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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