Commuters in U.S. South face tough trek after deadly storm

Snow cover in the U.S. 1-18-18 - National Weather Service

By Rich McKay

ATLANTA (Reuters) – Commuters in the U.S. South faced frigid temperatures and dangerously slick roads on Thursday after a winter storm, responsible for at least eight deaths, thrashed the region with heavy snow and winds that snapped power lines.

Schools in New Orleans, Charlotte and Atlanta and across the region canceled classes on Thursday as winter weather advisories from the National Weather Service (NWS) remained in effect from eastern Texas to Florida and north into southeast Virginia.

“Motorists are urged to use extreme caution, or avoid travel if possible,” the NWS said in an advisory, warning that freezing temperatures would keep roads icy.

Wind chill advisories were in effect as temperatures will feel like they have fallen below zero Fahrenheit (-18 degrees Celsius) in parts of the Carolinas, Alabama and Virginia.

More than 14,000 households and businesses in North Carolina and Louisiana and in various parts of the South were without power early on Thursday, utility companies said online.

The governors of Georgia, North Carolina and Louisiana declared states of emergency because of severe conditions that made traveling treacherous.

“We cannot stress it enough for everyone to stay off the roads unless you have no choice,” North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said in a statement, adding the storm had caused 1,600 traffic accidents.

More than 9 inches (23 cm) of snow have fallen in Durham, North Carolina since Monday, with 7 inches (18 cm) or more measured at various locations across southern Virginia, the NWS said.

The storm has caused at least eight deaths.

In Austin, Texas, a vehicle plunged more than 30 feet (9 meters) off a frozen overpass on Tuesday, killing a man in his 40s, Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Service said on its Twitter feed.

An 82-year-old woman who suffered from dementia was found dead on Wednesday behind her Houston-area home, likely due to exposure to cold, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office said. Another woman died from cold exposure in Memphis, police said on Twitter.

In Georgia, two people were fatally struck by a car that slid on an ice patch near Macon, local media reports said.

A man was killed when he was knocked off an elevated portion of Interstate 10 in New Orleans and an 8-month-old baby died in a car crash in suburban New Orleans, local news reports said.

A woman died in West Virginia in a car crash, local reports said.

(Additional reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Edmund Blair and Bernadette Baum)

Flights canceled, schools closed across snowy U.S. South

Snow falls through a picture frame in the Boston Public Garden during a winter storm in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., January 17, 2018.

By Gina Cherelus

(Reuters) – A bitter winter storm gripped much of the South on Wednesday, prompting schools to close and causing thousands of flight delays and cancellations as snow, ice and record-breaking cold hit the region.

The storm led to a least one death when a vehicle in Austin, Texas, plunged more than 30 feet off a frozen overpass late on Tuesday, killing a man in his 40s, Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Service said on its Twitter feed.

Winter weather advisories were in effect from the Northeast to the Mid-Atlantic states and Southeast, as well as over the central Gulf Coast of Texas, according to the National Weather Service (NWS). Winter storm warnings were also in effect for portions of the Carolinas, southern Virginia and the New England area.

More than 360 outgoing flights at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport were canceled or delayed on Wednesday, according to Flightaware.com, and another 60-plus were canceled or delayed at the Raleigh-Durham International Airport.

The governors of Georgia, North Carolina and Louisiana declared states of emergency due to severe winter weather conditions, which caused multiple car accidents during rush-hour traffic, officials said.

NWS meteorologist Dan Petersen said snowfall in central and north Georgia had ended, and the arctic cold front would now bring snow, frigid temperatures and frozen roadways across central North Carolina on Wednesday.

“The rain in central North Carolina will eventually turn into snow later today and is predicted to dump 6 to 8 inches of snow over central North Carolina and about 1 to 3 inches over east North Carolina,” he said.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper warned at a news briefing that cold temperatures Wednesday night would make travel conditions even more hazardous.

“The snow is pretty, but don’t be fooled,” Cooper said.

In Houston, the nation’s fourth most populous city, most freeways were closed on Wednesday morning after icing over, the city’s Office of Emergency Management said.

“Not a good idea to be out on the roads. Conditions are still unsafe,” the Texas Department of Transportation Houston Division said on its Twitter feed.

New Orleans had record-breaking cold temperatures Wednesday morning with 20 degrees Fahrenheit in the area, beating its previous record 23 degrees set in 1977, according to the NWS. Hattiesburg, Mississippi, also broke temperature records with 12 degrees Fahrenheit on Wednesday, beating its 14 degrees also set in 1977.

(Reporting by Gina Cherelus in New York and Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and David Gregorio)

Erie, Pennsylvania pummeled by record 5 feet of snow

A general view of 1925 State Street after the record snowfall in Erie, Pennsylvania, U.S., December 26, 2017 in this picture obtained from social media.

(Reuters) – Snow piled up in Erie, Pennsylvania, on Wednesday after two days of record-breaking snowfall that had already surpassed 5 feet (1.5 meters), breaking city and state records, according to the National Weather Service.

Though residents are used to winter snow squalls blowing in from adjacent Lake Erie, which straddles the border with Canada, the Christmas storm is already one for the ages.

“This is an incredible amount of snow that we’re trying to move,” the Erie Police Department said in statement after the city declared a “snow emergency” on Tuesday, imploring people to stay off the streets.

By Tuesday evening, meteorologists had counted at least seven different city and state records broken by the storm.

The 34 inches (0.86 meters) that fell on Christmas Day alone was a new record for any single day in Erie, handily beating the 20-inch record set back in 1956, the National Weather Service said.

And the storm broke a 59-year-old record for two-day snowfall recorded anywhere in Pennsylvania, totaling 58 inches when Tuesday’s barrage was added and beating the 44-inch record set in Morgantown in 1958.

Another two to four inches of snow were forecast for Wednesday, with up to 6 inches in some places.

No residents of Erie, a city of 99,000 people according to recent U.S. census estimates, have been publicly reported as being injured in the storm, though some have complained to local news outlets about how long it takes to shovel out their driveways this week.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf deployed 21 Pennsylvania National Guard troops along with some all-terrain military vehicles to the region on Tuesday to help residents dig out, check on people’s well-being and transport emergency responders around the area.

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

Lighter winds early this week may help battle against California wildfire

Firefighters keep watch on the Thomas wildfire in the hills and canyons outside Montecito, California, U.S., December 16, 2017.

By Chris Kenning

(Reuters) – Lighter winds expected in California early this week should help firefighters in their battle against one of the largest and most destructive wildfires in the state’s history, the National Weather Service has said.

By late on Sunday, more than 8,500 firefighters had contained about 45 percent of the fire in Southern California. Dubbed the Thomas fire, it began Dec. 4 and has scorched 270,000 acres (109,000 hectares) along the scenic Pacific Coast north of Los Angeles.

Its size is approaching that of the 2003 Cedar blaze in San Diego County, the largest wildfire in state history, which consumed 273,246 acres and caused 15 deaths.

While wind and low humidity will still create dangerous fire conditions, “improving weather conditions should allow firefighters to make progress on the fire” on Monday and Tuesday, the National Weather Service said on Twitter.

Officials said calmer winds also helped make Sunday one of their most productive days yet battling a blaze that has been fueled by fierce Santa Ana winds sweeping in from eastern California deserts.

“We’re just hoping to make it home for Christmas,” Bakersfield Fire Department Captain Tim Ortiz said Sunday at a recreation center in Santa Barbara serving as a staging area and base camp for more than 3,000 firefighters.

The fire has destroyed more than 1,000 structures and threatened 18,000 others. Centered less than 100 miles (160 km) northwest of downtown Los Angeles, it has forced more than 104,000 people to evacuate or seek shelter.

On Sunday firefighters paid their respects during a funeral procession for Cal Fire engineer Cory Iverson, 32, who died of smoke inhalation and burns on Thursday while battling the flames near the Ventura County community of Fillmore.

Firefighters lined spots along the procession route that ran from Ventura County to his home near San Diego.

So far it has cost $123.8 million to battle the Thomas fire, which has forced many schools and roads to close for days and created poor air quality throughout southern California.

“I’ve seen people who have lost everything,” said Larry Dennis, 60, who sought refuge at a Ventura shelter Sunday after the blaze inundated the region with smoke and turned nearby hillsides red. Several areas of Ventura and Santa Barbara counties also saw evacuation orders lifted Sunday, Cal Fire said.

Five of the 20 most destructive fires in recorded history have ravaged the state in 2017, according to Cal Fire. The cause of the Thomas fire remains under investigation.

(Reporting by Chris Kenning; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

Firefighters look to gain on California wildfire as winds persist

Firefighters look to gain on California wildfire as winds persist

By Ben Gruber

VENTURA, Calif. (Reuters) – Firefighters on Tuesday hoped to take further control of a massive California wildfire, the fifth largest in the state’s history, as relentless wind gusts and bone-dry weather were expected to persist.

The blaze, known as the Thomas Fire, which has burned 231,700 acres in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties about 100 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles, grew but at a slower pace, the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) said.

Strong wind gusts of up to 40 miles per hour (65 km per hour) and extremely low humidity expected through Thursday will pose a challenge to firefighters, the National Weather Service said. (Graphics on ‘Southern California wildfires’ – http://tmsnrt.rs/2jCVLeu)

“That combination of winds and very low relative humidity leads to critical fire conditions and can allow for a potential of significant fire growth and fire behavior,” National Weather Service incident meteorologist Rich Thompson said late Monday at a community meeting about the fire.

About 7,000 firefighters were battling the Thomas Fire, which has destroyed nearly 800 structures including more than 680 homes, Cal Fire said. By Monday night the blaze was at least 20 percent contained.

Dry vegetation that has not burned in 50 years has acted as fuel for the fire in the mountains southeast of Santa Barbara and northwest of Ventura counties, spokesman Ian McDonald said.

“Because the slopes are so steep and the terrain is so rocky, it is actually quite dangerous,” he said. “We are not going to put firefighters in harm’s way halfway up a steep rocky slope. We are going to wait for the fire to come to us and extinguish it where it is safe.”

Public schools in Santa Barbara and school districts nearby have canceled classes this week and will not reopen until the annual winter break is completed in January, said Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider.

Some of the other fires burning over the past week in San Diego and Los Angeles counties have been largely brought under control by the thousands of firefighters on the ground.

The Creek and Rye fires in Los Angeles County were both at least 90 percent contained, officials said, while the Skirball Fire in the exclusive Bel Air neighborhood of Los Angeles was 85 percent contained.

North of San Diego, the 4,100-acre (1,660 hectare) Lilac Fire was 90 percent contained on Monday after destroying 151 structures.

(Additonal reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

Weather improves in search for missing Argentine submarine

Weather improves in search for missing Argentine submarine

By Walter Bianchi

MAR DEL PLATA, Argentina (Reuters) – The search continued on Tuesday for an Argentine submarine with 44 crew aboard, missing in the South Atlantic for nearly a week, with improved weather expected to quicken the hunt for the vessel.

Meteorologists expected waves of about 2 meters (6.6 ft) in the search area for the ARA San Juan, down from 8 meters over the weekend. Rescue boats have scoured about 80 percent of the search area, but storms and high winds have limited the effort in the past several days.

“Today is a critical day,” said Maria Victoria Morales, the mother of Luis Garcia, an electrical technician aboard the vessel. “We are holding up as well as we can.”

Morales and other relatives of crew members have been gathered at a naval base in Mar del Plata, where authorities are coordinating the search and rescue operation.

The submarine was en route from Ushuaia in Argentina’s extreme south to the coastal city of Mar del Plata when it sent its last location on Nov. 15.

More than a dozen boats and planes from Argentina, the United States, Britain, Chile and Brazil have joined the search. Authorities have mainly been scanning from the sky as storms have halted the maritime hunt.

“We trust that the boats assigned to each zone can do an effective maritime patrol, and will not be struggling against the storm as they were in recent days,” Navy spokesman Enrique Balbi said on Monday night.

Searchers have suffered disappointments in recent days as analyses have shown that satellite signals and sounds detected by underwater probes initially thought to be messages from the crew did not come from the vessel.

The submarine had reported an electrical problem and was heading back to its base in Mar del Plata when it disappeared on Wednesday nearly 300 miles off the coast.

The U.S. Navy was preparing on Tuesday to deploy rescue equipment, including a remote-operated vehicle.

The ARA San Juan was inaugurated in 1983, the newest of three submarines in the Navy’s fleet. Built in Germany, it underwent maintenance in 2008 in Argentina.

The maintenance included the replacement of its four diesel engines and its electric propeller engines, according to specialist publication Jane’s Sentinel.

(This version of the story corrects Balbi statement to Monday night, not Sunday night in paragraph seven)

(Reporting by Walter Bianchi; Writing by Luc Cohen; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

Greeks in mourning and disbelief after flood that killed at least 15

Greeks in mourning and disbelief after flood that killed at least 15

MANDRA, Greece (Reuters) – Greeks voiced despair and disbelief on Thursday after a flash flood killed at least 15 people and left hundreds homeless, with many blaming a system that allowed houses to be built on dried up river beds.

In the towns of Nea Peramos and Mandra west of the capital Athens, crumpled cars and mangled furniture lay on roads caked in the thick mud left behind by a raging torrent that smashed through homes on Wednesday morning. [nL8N1NL22V]

“We are ruined. My tavern and my house are gone,” said Paraskevas Stamou, a restaurant owner in Mandra. “Everything is gone, the road is gone, the water is still flowing and we were flooded again last night and this morning.

“We are expecting another downpour tonight. It’s like God hates us,” he told Reuters.

Maria Kriada is comforted outside her destroyed house following flash floods which hit areas west of Athens on November 15 killing at least 15 people, in Nea Peramos, Greece, November 16, 2017. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis

Maria Kriada is comforted outside her destroyed house following flash floods which hit areas west of Athens on November 15 killing at least 15 people, in Nea Peramos, Greece, November 16, 2017. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis

To escape the lethal floodwaters, residents took desperate measures.

“We had nowhere to sleep. We slept on the roof, we found carpets to cover ourselves,” said a man in Mandra whose house was gutted by the flood but remained standing.

Between sobs, his mother added: “Everything went. We don’t have anyone to help us. I don’t have help from anyone.”

Bad weather continued on Thursday. Officials said they were waiting for conditions to improve before giving a clearer picture of the damage. Five people were still missing.

Flags flew half-mast from state buildings and the Acropolis on Thursday as the government declared three days of national mourning.

Newspapers expressed anger. “A Crime,” was the headline in Ta Nea daily, superimposed on a picture of a woman being comforted next to an overturned car. “The Deeds of Man,” wrote the leftist Avgi, referring to unlicensed constructions.

Experts blamed haphazard construction which the natural path for water runoff, and soil erosion on a mountain range hit by fires.

Both towns were built along an old motorway linking Athens to the Peloponnese city of Corinth. As building crept closer to the road, streams that would have drained runoff from the nearby Pateras mountains were blocked.

“Of course the state wasn’t prepared … we cannot compete with nature,” said Christos Zeferos, head of the research center for Atmospheric Physics and Climatology Academy of Athens, adding that climate change meant people should expect more weather-related disasters.

“We should be prepared for more frequent, and different phenomena,” he told Reuters.

Many of the victims were elderly. The youngest was a 36-year old truck driver who called his mother as the floodwaters rose around his lorry. The line went dead soon afterwards.

General aerial view of a flooded area following flash floods in Mandra, West Attica, Greece November 15, 2017 in this still image taken from social media video.     NATIONAL AND KAPODISTRIAN UNIVERSITY OF ATHENS/via REUTERS

General aerial view of a flooded area following flash floods in Mandra, West Attica, Greece November 15, 2017 in this still image taken from social media video. NATIONAL AND KAPODISTRIAN UNIVERSITY OF ATHENS/via REUTERS

(Reporting By Michele Kambas, Renee Maltezou, Alkis Konstantinidis and Lefteris Papadimas; Writing by Michele Kambas; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

Flash floods kill at least 10 in downpour near Athens

Flash floods kill at least 10 in downpour near Athens

By Vassilis Triandafyllou and Alkis Konstantinidis

MANDRA, Greece (Reuters) – At least 10 people died in flash floods in Greece on Wednesday in the most deadly such incident in recent years when a torrent of red mud swept through towns west of the capital Athens after heavy rain, authorities said.

Torrential rain of this type is uncommon in Greece, where poor infrastructure can leave citizens vulnerable to flooding.

The overnight deluge turned roads in the industrial towns of Nea Peramos and Mandra, about 27 km (17 miles) west of Athens, into fast-flowing rivers and trapped dozens of people in their homes or cars.

Some residents were forced onto rooftops and balconies while cars were thrust onto porches or tipped onto their side. Twelve people were rescued from a bus on a bridge.

“This is a biblical disaster,” Mandra Mayor Yianna Krikouki told state broadcaster ERT. “Everything is gone.”

Heavy vehicles, a bus and cars were stranded under more than a meter of water on a nearby motorway. The force of the water smashed through walls and broke through roads.

In Mandra, five people – two women and three men – were found dead either in their flooded homes or in allotments. Another two were found floating in the sea.

“The walls collapsed, the cars were carried away and they broke everything here. There is nothing left,” resident Marina Kolia said. “Water is everywhere in the house.”

The wall of a local cemetery crumbled and vehicles collided with tree trunks. The fire brigade said at least three people were missing, and an unspecified number of people injured.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras expressed regret at the loss of life and called for an emergency meeting with ministers.

Greece has had around a week of heavy rain. A state of emergency was declared in the west Attica region, which includes Nea Peramos and Mandra, on Wednesday.

Both towns, which have a combined population of about 20,000 people, lie in the foothills of a mountain in western Attica. Many Greek housing settlements are built without taking into account town planning regulations.

An Athens prosecutor ordered an urgent preliminary investigation into the deaths and destruction caused and was also investigating possible urban planning offences.

On Tuesday, Greece declared a state of emergency on the eastern island of Symi, just off the coast of Turkey, after a storm swept cars into the sea, damaged homes and cut off electricity and water supplies.

(Additional reporting by Karolina Tagaris and Renee Maltezou Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg)

Firefighters gaining edge in California wildfires that have killed at least 40

Search and Rescue teams search for two missing people amongst ruins at Journey's End Mobile Home Park destroyed by the Tubbs Fire in Santa Rosa.

By Salvador Rodriguez

SANTA ROSA (Reuters) – Firefighters began gaining ground on wildfires that killed at least 40 people in the past week, the deadliest blazes in California’s history, as winds eased and searchers combed charred ruins for more victims with hundreds still missing.

Two of the three most destructive Northern California fires were more than half contained early on Monday, and some residents who fled the flames in hard-hit Sonoma County could be allowed to return home later in the day, officials said.

More than 5,700 structures were destroyed by more than a dozen wildfires that ignited a week ago and consumed an area larger than New York City. Entire neighborhoods in the city of Santa Rosa were reduced to ashes.

“Overall, things are feeling optimistic. We’re very cautious about that,” said Brad Gouvea, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection incident commander. “You’d never know it’s the middle of October in Sonoma County and have fire behavior like this.”

A firefighting helicopter drops water to defend a vineyard from an approaching wildfire in Santa Rosa.

A firefighting helicopter drops water to defend a vineyard from an approaching wildfire in Santa Rosa.
REUTERS/Jim Urquhart

Warm and very dry weather is forecast to continue through Monday, the National Weather Service said. Rain could arrive on Thursday after a cooling trend, it said.

Steve Crawford, a Cal Fire operations chief, said heavy winds had lightened and helped drive flames away from populated areas. Better weather and additional equipment and manpower made available as other fires died down had also helped.

“Before we were kind of chasing the fire,” he said.

In another hopeful sign, Mendocino County authorities said power company PG&E would begin flying low in the county to check lines and re-establish power.

About 11,000 firefighters supported by air tankers and helicopters are battling blazes that have consumed more than 217,000 acres (88,000 hectares).

About 50 search-and-rescue personnel backed by National Guard troops were combing tens of thousands of charred acres in Sonoma County for bodies, sheriff’s spokeswoman Misti Harris said.

“Once it’s safe to go through, we’ll search every structure,” she said.

Twenty-two people were killed in Sonoma County and 174 were still listed as missing there, although the number has dropped from 235 on Saturday as more people checked in with authorities.

Evacuation orders were lifted for the picturesque Napa Valley resort town of Calistoga, whose 5,000 residents were ordered out by authorities four days ago with fire just miles from downtown.

Thank you banners to responders are hung above Highway 101 after wildfires tore through portions of Santa Rosa, California, U.S., October 15, 2017.

Thank you banners to responders are hung above Highway 101 after wildfires tore through portions of Santa Rosa, California, U.S., October 15, 2017. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart

RETURNING TO THE UNKNOWN

Some evacuees being housed at a Sonoma raceway hoped to return home.

Retiree Stephen Garner, 68, of Sonoma, has been camped with his wife in the couple’s recreational vehicle.

“As far as we know our house is OK, but that’s the hard part, you don’t know,” he said.

In Redwood Valley, a scorched Mendocino County town of about 1,700 people, Jami Flores and her family sifted through the ruins of their two-story rental home, which was reduced to rubble.

“There’s been a lot of crying and a lot of emotions,” Flores, 42, said.

Flores, her husband and daughter fled Monday morning after being awoken by the smell of smoke, not uncommon in the area. Seeing a red haze, they rushed to leave amid falling ash and arriving firefighters.

“The mountain was on fire,” Flores said. Now she wonders, “Where do we all go next?”

The fast-moving fires north of San Francisco remained a danger, with thousands ordered to leave their homes at the weekend.

Firefighters gained control of two of the deadliest fires in wine country’s Napa and Sonoma counties: The Tubbs fire was 60 percent contained and the Atlas fire 65 percent contained, Cal Fire said. Nearly half of the Redwood Valley fire, which alone is responsible for eight deaths in Mendocino County, was extinguished by late Sunday.

The 40 confirmed fatalities make the fires California’s deadliest since record-keeping began, surpassing the 29 deaths from the Griffith Park fire of 1933 in Los Angeles.

About 75,000 people remain displaced.

At least a dozen Napa Valley and Sonoma County wineries were damaged or destroyed, throwing the state’s wine industry and related tourism into disarray.

Firefighters from Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Utah and New York are helping battle the blazes. Cal Fire estimated the fires would be contained by Friday.

The year’s wildfire season is one of the worst in U.S. history, with nearly 8.6 million acres (3.4 million hectares) burned by Oct. 13, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. The worst on record for the same period in a year was 9.3 million acres in 2015.

 

(Editing by Chris Michaud and Paul Tait)

 

Weakening Nate brings rain, tornado warnings to U.S. South

Weakening Nate brings rain, tornado warnings to U.S. South

By Rod Nickel and Jessica Resnick-Ault

BILOXI/PASCAGOULA, Miss. (Reuters) – Hurricane Nate weakened to a tropical depression on Sunday after coming ashore in Mississippi, flooding roads and buildings but sparing the state from catastrophic damages.

Maximum sustained winds from Nate, the fourth major storm to hit the United States in less than two months, dropped to 35 miles per hour (55 km per hour) as it moved through Alabama and into Tennessee.

The remnants of the storm spawned tornado warnings in those states and the western portions of North Carolina and South Carolina. It is forecast to bring gusty winds and up to 4 inches (10 cm) of rain to parts of Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York on Monday.

The storm made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane, the weakest designation by the U.S. National Hurricane Center. Only a few hours earlier, its winds had been blowing at 70 mph (113 kph) but appeared to lack the devastating punch of its recent predecessors.

Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant told reporters there had been no deaths or reports of catastrophic damage. “We are very fortunate this morning and have been blessed,” he said.

Nate killed at least 30 people in Central America before entering the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico and bearing down on the U.S. South. It has also shut down most oil and gas production in the Gulf.

Nate follows hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, which have devastated areas of the Caribbean and southern United States.

The tropical depression’s center will move up through Alabama into Tennessee and Kentucky through Monday, the hurricane center said. Heavy rainfall and storm-surge flooding remained a danger across the region, and the hurricane center said Florida’s Panhandle and parts of Alabama and Georgia might feel tropical storm-force wind gusts.

The storm was expected to bring three to six inches of rain to parts of western North Carolina through midday Monday, with up to 10 inches possible in isolated spots. Power outages, damaged homes and roads closed by debris were all reported in the region.

Nate made its first U.S. landfall on Saturday evening near the mouth of the Mississippi River and then made a second one early on Sunday near Biloxi, Mississippi.

In Biloxi, water surged over roads during the storm and quickly receded on Sunday, leaving a boat that broke loose marooned on the beach. At a Waffle House restaurant, the storm surge deposited a dumpster in its parking lot.

Jeff Pickich, a 46-year-old wine salesman from D’Iberville, Mississippi, was counting his blessings. Heavy winds left only minor damage, blowing down part of a fence on his rental property in Biloxi.

“I’m just glad,” he said, digging fresh holes for fence posts. “I was afraid of the water. The water is Mother Nature. You can’t stop it.”

Water flowed through Ursula Staten’s yard in Biloxi, pushing over part of her fence and scattering debris, but did not breach her house.

“I have a mess,” the retired massage therapist said. “If we had got Irma, I would have lost everything.”

At the Golden Nugget Casino, one of eight Biloxi gaming establishments, workers rushed to clean up mud, debris and minor damage from 3 feet (1 m) of water sloshing into an entrance and the parkade. The gaming room stayed dry.

Three hundred guests remained in the hotel, some eager to try their luck after surviving Nate.

But dangers from the storm remain, with Florida Governor Rick Scott warning of tornadoes springing up in the Panhandle region and Alabama Governor Kay Ivey urging residents to prepare for strong winds and storm surges.

U.S. President Donald Trump declared federal emergencies in Alabama and Florida on Sunday, which provides additional funding for disaster relief.

Mississippi Power had restored electricity to 10,000 customers, but 4,800 were still without it. More than 1,000 people had arrived at shelters, the state Emergency Management Agency said.

Alabama Power said it had restored electricity to 58,000 of 146,000 customers who lost it.

Rainfall of 3 to 6 inches (8 to 15 cm), with a maximum of 10 inches (25 cm), was expected east of the Mississippi River in Alabama and Tennessee, the hurricane center said.

NEW ORLEANS THREAT DOWNGRADED

Forecast at one point to make landfall in Louisiana, Nate headed farther east and spared many New Orleans parishes that were devastated by Hurricane Katrina 12 years ago.

“I had prayed for this – that we would be spared,” said Amos Cormier, president of Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana’s equivalent to a county.

Bernice Barthelemy, a 70-year-old Louisiana resident, died from cardiac arrest overnight after telling Reuters on Saturday that she did not mind having to evacuate, Cormier said on Sunday. He attributed her death to the stress of the move.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said he expected that evacuated residents could return home soon.

Vessel traffic and port operations at New Orleans resumed on Sunday afternoon, while the Port of Mobile in Alabama remained closed. Oil ports, producers and refiners in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama were planning reopenings as the storm moved inland on Sunday.

The storm curtailed 92 percent of daily oil production and 77 percent of daily natural gas output in the Gulf of Mexico, more than three times the amount affected by Harvey.

The storm doused Central America with heavy rains on Thursday, killing at least 16 people in Nicaragua, 10 in Costa Rica, two in Honduras and two in El Salvador.

(Reporting by Rod Nickel in Biloxi, Miss. and Jessica Resnick-Ault in Pascagoula, Miss.; Additional reporting by Marianna Parraga, Erwin Seba and Gary McWilliams in Houston; Jonathan Allen in New York; Writing by Lisa Shumaker; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Peter Cooney)