Several killed by Ivan's remnants in N.C. and Md., thousands without power

Saturday, September 18th 2004, 10:52 am
By: News On 6

CASHIERS, N.C. (AP) _ The remnants of Hurricane Ivan made a violent mark across the Southeast and the Appalachians, where several people were killed by falling trees and floods that washed away scores of roads. Search teams were sent to scour damaged areas for stranded residents.

Utility companies said more than 213,000 customers still had no electricity Saturday in North Carolina, with 67,000 blacked out in West Virginia and 64,000 in western Pennsylvania.

Wind reached 60 mph and as much as 12 inches of rain fell Friday in North Carolina's mountainous western tip, which was still sodden from Frances' floods last week. The remnants of the storm pushed through West Virginia, where more than 3,000 people were evacuated as flooding, mudslides and several tornadoes hit.

On Saturday, heavy rain fell across eastern sections of Pennsylvania and New York state and into New England. Meteorologists warned of major flooding along the upper Ohio River and West Virginia residents were being evacuated Saturday from riverside areas in Wheeling and Moundsville.

Tornadoes in West Virginia's Eastern Panhandle, just west of the Washington area, collapsed buildings and tossed several tractor-trailers onto their sides on Interstate 81, causing at least six injuries, emergency officials said.

Across West Virginia, flooding and mud slides closed 160 to 200 roads, said state Office of Emergency Services spokesman Jay Powers. Gov. Bob Wise declared a state of emergency and nearly 200 National Guard soldiers were on duty.

Ivan spawned a tornado in North Carolina's Piedmont area that hop-scotched northward through Guilford and Rockingham counties, destroying five homes and damaging 54 others. No one was seriously injured, authorities said.

Ivan was downgraded to a tropical depression by the time it reached North Carolina late Thursday, as was Hurricane Frances when it arrived Sept. 7. North Carolinians had little time to recover between the storms.

Ivan and its remnants were blamed for 42 deaths in the United States, 16 of them in Florida. The latest were two people killed Saturday in Maryland when a tree was blown into a mobile home. The storm also was blamed for 70 deaths in the Caribbean.

Two adults and a toddler were killed Friday in North Carolina's Macon County, in the southwest corner of the state, when a wall of water smashed a community of 30 homes to bits, said Rob Brisley with the state Office of Emergency Management.

``There was no warning,'' said Tim Shirley, whose mother-in law was killed and father-in-law was missing. ``The kids were watching TV, and then the power cut out, and it was just like, boom, life changes.''

As of Saturday morning, 119 primary and secondary roads were still impassable in western North Carolina, said Renee Hoffman of the State Emergency Response Team. That included a stretch of Interstate 40 spanning the North Carolina-Tennessee line.

The water began receding late Friday, but Hoffman said the danger was not over. ``We're asking people to hold off with outdoor activities, with camping, kayaking, hiking, because there's still the potential for flash floods,'' she said.

In Virginia, tornados across the state toppled trees, damaged buildings and prompted the governor to declare a state of emergency Friday. A tornado in Henry County tore the roof off a factory, flipped two tractor-trailer rigs off a highway, damaged homes and ripped up or snapped thousands of trees, Sheriff Frank Cassell said.

Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell declared a disaster emergency late Friday in four western Pennsylvania counties as record rainfall prompted widespread evacuations, shut down major roads, and trapped people in homes, businesses and on bridges.