Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Florida's Reaction Upstages Hurricane Many Firsts but Few Lasting Effects

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Florida's Reaction Upstages Hurricane Many Firsts but Few Lasting Effects

Article excerpt

When Hurricane Floyd barreled away from Florida's East Coast yesterday, the potentially catastrophic storm left behind little of the damage that state officials had feared.

The storm, which forced as many as 1.3 million Floridians to leave their coastal homes Monday and Tuesday, ripped down power lines, flooded oceanside roads and even washed away parts of two piers.

But it didn't cause what state emergency officials feared could be billions of dollars in damage to homes, businesses and infrastructure in Central and Northeast Florida.

Thousands of coastal residents began streaming back to their homes yesterday as Floyd steadily moved farther away from Florida. As of 6 p.m., evacuation orders had been lifted in all of the state's counties, though nearly 12,000 people remained in public shelters, and countless others were staying in motels or with inland friends and relatives.

The state also continued to deal with nagging problems: For example, about 241,000 electrical customers remained without power, with most electricity not expected to be restored until today.

Floyd, which had winds as high as 150 mph as it churned near the Florida coast, started shifting away from the state Tuesday and continued yesterday. Last night, Floyd moved toward landfall between Myrtle Beach, S.C., and Wilmington, N.C., with winds howling at 115 mph.

No storm-related deaths or major injuries were reported in Florida, said David Bishop, a spokesman for the state Department of Community Affairs.

Florida emergency-management teams moved into coastal areas yesterday to assess damage and figure out whether local governments needed help in recovering from Floyd. Damage estimates were not available last night.

President Clinton declared a federal emergency Tuesday for 12 coastal counties, including Duval, Nassau and St. Johns, to help pay for removing debris and providing emergency services such as law enforcement and shelters. …

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