Weakened Nate brings flooding, power outages to U.S. Gulf Coast – World
Nate — the first hurricane to make landfall in Mississippi since Katrina in 2005 — quickly lost strength, with its winds diminishing to a tropical depression as it pushed northward into Alabama and toward Georgia with heavy rain. It was a Category 1 hurricane when it came ashore outside Biloxi early Sunday, its second landfall after initially hitting southeastern Louisiana on Saturday evening.
The storm surge from the Mississippi Sound littered Biloxi’s main beachfront highway with debris and flooded a casino’s lobby and parking structure overnight.
By dawn, however, Nate’s receding floodwaters didn’t reveal any obvious signs of widespread damage in the city where Hurricane Katrina had levelled thousands of beachfront homes and businesses.
No storm-related deaths or injuries were immediately reported.
Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant praised state and local officials and coastal residents for working together to avoid loss of life.
Lee Smithson, director of the state emergency management agency, said damage from Nate was held down in part because of work done and lessons learned from Katrina.
“If that same storm would have hit us 15 years ago, the damage would have been extensive and we would have had loss of life.” Smithson said of Nate. “But we have rebuilt the coast in the aftermath of Katrina higher and stronger.”
Nate knocked out power to more than 100,000 residents in Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and Florida, but crews were working on repairs.
As of Sunday afternoon, Alabama Power said more than 62,000 customers remained without power, while utilities and co-operatives in Mississippi said more than 21,000 were without electricity. In Louisiana, there were scattered outages during the storm, while Florida Gov. Rick Scott said 6,800 customers had lost power in his state.
Mississippi’s Gulf Coast casinos got approval to reopen in idmorning after closing Saturday as the storm approached.
Sean Stewart, checking on his father’s sailboat at a Biloxi marina after daybreak, found another boat had sunk, its sail still fluttering in Nate’s diminishing winds. Stewart was relieved to find his father’s craft intact.
“I got lucky on this one,” he said.
Tropical Depression #Nate Advisory 17: Heavy Rainfall Spreading Inland as Nate Becomes a Tropical Depression. https://t.co/VqHn0uj6EM
Before Nate sped past Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula late Friday and entered the Gulf of Mexico, it drenched Central America with rains that left at least 22 people dead. But Nate didn’t approach the intensity of Harvey, Irma and Maria — powerful storms that left behind massive destruction during 2017’s exceptionally busy hurricane season.
“We are thankful because this looked like it was going to be a freight train barrelling through the city,” said Vincent Creel, a spokesman for the City of Biloxi.
The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency said the four hurricanes that have struck the U.S. and its territories this year have “strained” resources, with roughly 85 per cent of the agency’s forces deployed.
“We’re still working massive issues in Harvey, Irma, as well as the issues in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, and now this one,” FEMA administrator Brock Long told ABC’s This Week.
The federal government declared emergencies in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. The storm’s remnants spawned tornado warnings in Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina.
Nate initially made landfall Saturday evening in Louisiana, but fears that it would overwhelm the fragile pumping system in New Orleans proved to be unfounded. The storm passed to the east of New Orleans, and Mayor Mitch Landrieu lifted a curfew on the city known for its all-night partying.
“Hurricane Nate had the potential to wreak havoc on Louisiana, but thankfully, we were largely spared major damage,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said in a statement.