Tropical Storm Hanna Slams Ashore

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Tropical Storm Hanna hit the East Coast along the North and South Carolina border on Saturday. It is expected to race north along the Eastern Seaboard, bringing heavy rain and flooding.

SCOTT SIMON, host:

Tropical Storm Hanna is sweeping up the East Coast with 60-mile-an-hour winds and heavy rains causing flooding in some areas. We're joined now from Oak Island in southeast North Carolina by Peter Bielo who's the morning host of member station WHQR in Wilmington. Peter, thanks for being with us.

PETER BIELO: Glad to be here.

SIMON: And, you know, if you were on The Weather Channel, you'd be outside, and we'd be hearing...

(Soundbite of Scott Simon simulating the sound of wind blowing)

SIMON: And you'd be covered in rain. But you're in your car where you can really talk to us, right?

BIELO: Right, you wouldn't hear a thing but just gusts of wind because it's really still blowing out here on the coast. Further inland it's not so bad, but the trees are moving and the reeds on the dunes are moving.

SIMON: So it wasn't perhaps as bad as people feared, but 28,000 people in Brunswick County lost power, right?

BIELO: That's right. Most of them have had their power restored. I think there's about 8,000 people left where crews are still working to get the power back on. So, crews are working hard to make sure that people's lives can return back to normal.

SIMON: How many people evacuated? Can you tell?

BIELO: Well, it was a voluntary evacuation, so only a few hundred actually went to the shelters. And there are an unknown number of people who were vacationing for the week who aren't used to this kind of weather. And since it hit during the end of the week, people decided to cut their vacations a day or two short and head home.

SIMON: And Hurricane Ache - it's not ache! The ache of Hurricane Ike, let me put it that way, is reportedly not far behind.

BIELO: That's right. But when we speak to government officials, they say, you know, this one isn't going to be as bad as some of the ones they've had in the past. They're taking Hanna - they took Hanna very seriously. And they're really keeping an eye on Ike. They're still not sure where it's going to go, but if it comes here, this could almost be considered a dry run for that.

SIMON: So you can drive safely, Peter, where you are?

BIELO: Well, yeah, because I'm not risking driving through the huge puddle that's right in front of me. The main drag along Oak Island right near the water, some sections of it are flooded. There's one truck going by right now kicking up lots of water. There's a couple that just walked through, and they were ankle-deep. But they seemed to be having fun. They're just videotaping the scenery.

SIMON: Well, wear your galoshes, Peter.

BIELO: I will.

SIMON: Peter Bielo of member station WHQR from Wilmington, North Carolina, speaking with us from Oak Island in southeast North Carolina where Tropical Storm Hanna is sweeping up the East Coast. She'll be continuing to sweep up the East Coast into today. Hurricane Ike is not far behind.

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Forecasters Look Beyond Hanna To Ike

A destroyed road caused by erosion and storm surge damage generated by Hanna. i

Residents stand near a destroyed road caused by erosion and storm surge damage generated by Tropical Storm Hanna in Ocean Isle, N.C., on Saturday. Logan Mock-Bunting/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Logan Mock-Bunting/Getty Images
A destroyed road caused by erosion and storm surge damage generated by Hanna.

Residents stand near a destroyed road caused by erosion and storm surge damage generated by Tropical Storm Hanna in Ocean Isle, N.C., on Saturday.

Logan Mock-Bunting/Getty Images

Hurricane Ike grew to a Category 4 storm with 135 mph winds as it headed toward the Turks and Caicos islands Saturday. Forecasters say if it remains on its present course, Ike could hit the Gulf Coast early next week. Emergency management officials have ordered a mandatory evacuation of all visitors to the Florida Keys.

In Haiti, authorities tried to move thousands of people into shelters ahead of Ike, while they struggle to recover from Tropical Storm Hanna. The storm has been blamed for disastrous flooding and more than 160 deaths. Rescue workers feared the death toll could rise and that aid efforts could be further hampered as Ike approaches.

Hanna did not pack the same punch while racing up the East Coast of the U.S. on Saturday, but it did cause one death in a traffic accident on Interstate 95 in Maryland.

It also brought fits of wind and pelting rain on its trek toward New England. It didn't linger long enough to cause widespread damage, although more than 100,000 people lost power at some point.

Forecasters say Ike could become the fiercest storm to strike South Florida since Andrew in 1992. That hurricane did more than $26 billion in damage and was blamed for 65 deaths.

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist has declared a state of emergency, and Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez warned residents to take preparations.

"Ike is a major hurricane. For those of you who remember 1992's Hurricane Andrew, which was a Category 4 and later reclassified as a Category 5, the effects can be devastating," he said.

Officials in Miami-Dade and other southern coastal cities say they may call for voluntary costal evacuations, beginning Sunday.

In preparation for Ike, the Federal Emergency Management Agency was positioning supplies, search and rescue crews, communications equipment and medical teams in Florida and along the Gulf Coast — a task complicated by the hurricane's changing path.

From NPR and wire reports.

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