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Entries in Tropical Storm Lee (8)

Friday
Sep092011

Northeast Flooding: 14 Dead, 45 Trillion Gallons of Rain

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WILKES-BARRE, Pa.) -- The rains and flooding caused by the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee have led to the evacuation of more than 100,000 people in the Northeast and dumped enough rain to fill Dallas Cowboys Stadium more than 50,000 times.

Lee and its aftermath have been attributed to at least 14 deaths. Virginia's governor declared a state of emergency Friday after flooding submerged parts of the I-95 corridor and left people stranded in their cars. President Obama declared a state of emergency in New York and Pennsylvania.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimated that 45 trillion gallons of rain fell on the United States in the wake of Lee. That's enough rain fill the NFL's largest enclosed stadium, the Dallas Cowboys Stadium, 57, 842 times.

The Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania is finally receding, but officials worry about the integrity of its levees and urge evacuated residents not to return to their homes.

The river reached its highest level ever Thursday night, overwhelming flood gauges. Officials revised their estimate of the river's crest at Wilkes-Barre, Pa., to 42.66 feet Friday, nearly four feet higher than first thought. Officials warn that's "well beyond the design" of the levee system.

"We are in a precarious situation," said Jim Brozena, executive director of the Luzerne County Flood Protection Authority. "We need people who are ordered to evacuate to adhere to those orders, to stay out of affected areas so that we can [get] things done and hopefully prevail against the river."

At least 75,000 people around the Susquehanna River are under a mandatory evacuation. Communities not protected by the levees have seen hundreds of homes and buildings damaged.

Friday afternoon, the National Guard used a boat to rescue 11 people, including two children, who were trapped on the second floor of a home in West Pittston, Pa.

The devastation in the region recalls Hurricane Agnes, which ripped through the mid-Atlantic in June of 1972, killing more than 100 and causing significant flooding, the brunt of which was felt in Wilkes-Barre.

A persistent area of low pressure associated with Lee's remnants will remain over the area throughout the weekend, according to the National Weather Service. It is expected that the area will see an additional four to seven inches of rainfall in the coming days.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Sep092011

Northeast Flooding: Five Dead as 100,000 Evacuate

Tetra Images/Thinkstock(WILKES-BARRE, Pa.) -- Pennsylvania's Susquehanna River has crested and over 100,000 residents have been evacuated as remnants of Tropical Storm Lee have created flood zones in the already water-logged region.

A persistent area of low pressure associated with Lee's remnants will remain over the area throughout the weekend, according to the National Weather Service.  It is expected that the area will see an additional four to seven inches of rainfall in the coming days.

Of the five deaths that have been attributed to the flooding, one was a child who was caught in a storm drain by the rushing waters.  The 8-year-old Pennsylvania boy was swept underwater into a storm drain that was approximately one foot in diameter, police said.

The city of Wilkes-Barre, Pa., issued a mandatory evacuation order for 8 p.m. Thursday which was moved to 4 p.m. as the Susquehanna River rapidly swelled.

Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tom Leighton asked residents to "be vigilant" and warned they should prepare themselves for an extended evacuation of a minimum 72 hours.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency said Thursday that an emergency exists in Pennsylvania and ordered federal aid to supplement state and local response efforts due to the emergency conditions.

About 1,200 National Guardsmen have been deployed across the state, according to the Philadelphia Enquirer, with approximately one-third headed for the Wilkes-Barre area -- which is cradled in the center of the Wyoming Valley region, with the Pocono Mountains to the east, the Endless Mountains to the west and the Lehigh Valley to the south.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep082011

Thousands Evacuated in Second Round of Flooding

Scott Olson/Getty Images(BINGHAMTON, N.Y.) -- More than 100,000 residents living along the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania are being forced to evacuate Thursday after officials said they expected even more rain to fall on the water-logged tristate area.

Residents of Wilkes-Barre and Kingston were ordered to leave by 4 p.m.

"I'm moving out of my first floor because if [the river] goes 38 feet, I'm going to have five feet on my first floor," Plainsville resident Beverly Sabol told ABC News affiliate WNEP-TV as her family emptied her house. "Thirty-eight projection? ... Where am I going to go?"

After the Northeast was inundated with rain as Hurricane Irene made its way northward a few weeks ago, Tropical Storm Lee dumped more heavy rain and caused floods Thursday.

Forty river gauges are in for major or record flooding, and historic flooding is expected in eight rivers throughout the region, including the Delaware and Passaic Rivers. Ten states are under flood watches, with warnings from Virginia to New Hampshire.

In Binghamton, N.Y., the Susquehanna broke a flood record and flowed over retaining walls. Emergency responders worked quickly to get residents who had not evacuated to leave their homes.

"We're still trying to get everybody out to a safe spot. Life is more important than people's properties as far as I'm concerned," firefighter Jason Delanoy said.

"It's a little scary but I do know that the emergency crews have been taking good care of everybody so far," resident Charlie Pritchett told ABC News affiliate WSYR-TV. "At least where we're at, they're ready to evacuate. They're ready to take care of everybody. Our parents live at the top of the hill so we're moving to the top of the hill with the kids and the dog."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep082011

Reid Proposes $6 Billion Stand-Alone Disaster Aid Bill

Scott Eisen/Bloomberg via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Noting that the natural disasters have come “fast and furious” this summer, causing many Americans to suffer, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., announced Wednesday that he will propose a free-standing bill that would provide $6 billion in relief funds.

“I don’t see how we -- this great nation we have -- can stand on the sidelines while our people are suffering.  We should get relief to people when they need it,” Reid said, mentioning the damage in Joplin, Missouri, the effects of hurricanes Irene and Lee, and the recent earthquake in Virginia.

The money for the bill would come from the Homeland Security appropriations bill, Reid said.

“We need to get this relief funding to the American people as quickly as we can,” he said.  “And we’re going to do that.”

Reid took a swipe at some of his Republican colleagues, most notably House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia, who early on said that any relief funds needed to be offset by cuts to other parts of the federal budget.

“Some of my Republican colleagues are trying to -- I was going to say something that was vulgar, and I’m not going to do that -- are trying to cater to the Tea Party by holding up relief efforts.  For example, Rep. Cantor suggested that we should hold up disaster relief to meet the Tea Party’s demands.  Fortunately, all Republicans don’t agree,” Reid said.

Cantor, who last month insisted that any new money for federal disaster relief be offset by spending cuts, issued a written statement on Wednesday regarding Reid’s stand-alone disaster assistance bill.  Cantor said he’s waiting for a specific request from President Obama and is awaiting details of Reid’s request.

“The House will act on a request for such disaster assistance as soon as it is made by President Obama,” Cantor said.  “Though details remain vague, it is being reported that Majority Leader Reid plans to move an unprecedented stand-alone measure that includes up to $7 billion in FEMA disaster funds for next year in the coming weeks.  I would ask Leader Reid to provide members of the House with the details of his request and a breakdown of what immediate funding is needed for each of the specific disaster areas listed above, so that the House can appropriately act on any legislation passed by the Senate.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Sep062011

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

Sunday
Sep042011

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

Friday
Sep022011

State of Emergency Declared in Louisiana ahead of Storm

File photo. Burton McNeely/Getty Images(NEW ORLEANS) -- With the threat of a tropical storm forming in the Gulf of Mexico that could bring upwards of a foot of rain this Labor Day holiday weekend to Southern U.S. cities like New Orleans, the governor of Louisiana has declared a state of emergency in advance of potential flooding.

The system, known as Tropical Depression 13, is currently south of Louisiana and is expected to move slowly north, making landfall in the state sometime Sunday late afternoon or evening as a tropical storm packing winds up to 60 miles per hour.  Should that happen, it would be named Tropical Storm Lee.

The storm is forecast to bring torrential rainfall to cities like New Orleans, where some areas just south of the city could see up to 20 inches of rain.  The amount of rain will depend on how long the storm sits in the area.

A tropical storm warning has been issued for New Orleans, as well as for other parts of Louisiana, and for parts of Mississippi and Texas.

Meanwhile, Katia remains a tropical storm and is not expected to pick up much strength on Friday, according to the National Hurricane Center. It is not forecast to make landfall near the U.S. this weekend.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep012011

Storms Threaten Rain for Labor Day Weekend

Matt Cardy/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Labor Day weekend could be the last chance sunbathers have to enjoy the beach this summer season, or it could be another wallop of wet weather if two storm systems make their way to land.

Dual storm systems are barreling toward the Gulf Coast and the East Coast as the holiday weekend approaches, threatening large waves, rainy weather, and nervous beachgoers who could choose to stay home.

Katia was declared a Category 1 hurricane Thursday morning, with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph. The storm is not expected to hit land during the weekend, but rough weather is expected to hit the Carribbean, and Katia could make landfall in the U.S. next week, according to Dennis Feltgen, spokesman for the National Hurricane Center.

In the Gulf of Mexico, a tropical disturbance that could become Tropical Storm Lee is heading for Gulf Coast beaches this weekend. Beaches from the Florida panhandle to the Texas coast could be hit with torrential flooding rainfall and at least some coastal flooding and high surf, according to Weather.com.

There have already been evacuations of some personnel from offshore oil rigs, the report said.

Feltgen said the weather in the Gulf is expected to become a tropical cyclone in the next 48 hours, and potential visitors all along the Gulf Coast should keep an eye on the storm as they make their weekend plans.

"Parts of the Gulf Coast really need the rain, so it could be a godsend to some places," Feltgen said. "We want the rain but wouldn't want the winds."

Feltgen said it's too early to tell whether Katia will hit the U.S., or predict when or where it could make landfall. It is, however, expected to strengthen over the holiday weekend.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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