Local News

Slow-Moving Hurricane Floods Louisiana Coast,...

Posted July 18, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— A weak but watery Hurricane Danny drenched the Louisiana coast and crept toward Mississippi and Alabama on Friday, spoiling beachgoers' weekend vacation plans.

With winds just barely reaching 75 mph hurricane level, Danny moved through the Gulf of Mexico and was expected to come ashore between Gulfport, Miss., and Mobile early Saturday, dumping 10 to 20 inches of rain along the way.

There were no immediate reports of injuries from the storm, the second hurricane of the Atlantic season that began June 1.

The hurricane caused a 5-foot storm surge in Louisiana and snapped utility poles, submerged cars and destroyed trailer homes. But it was not the kind of damage that alarms people who are accustomed to seeing nature's fury.

The main threat in Alabama and Mississippi appeared to be flooding.

``We are staying,'' said Vicki Bruce of Lexington, Tenn., who was vacationing with her family at Alabama's Orange Beach. ``I think there is more danger trying to get out with the traffic so bad. There is more danger getting hurt in a traffic accident than in the storm.''

With the skies darkening, many businesses along Alabama's coast boarded up their windows. Cars streamed north through the rain as vacationers left motels and condos for home or drier ground.

People in low-lying areas, trailer homes and recreational vehicles were advised to leave, but weren't ordered to go.

``We opened six shelters,'' said Mobile County Emergency Management Agency Director John Van Hook. ``There's hardly anyone in any of them.''

By afternoon, Danny was 65 miles south-southwest of Mobile, moving to the northeast at 6 mph.

Danny appeared to be on a path that would spare Mississippi's casinos along the coast, angling more toward Alabama or the Florida Panhandle.

``Looks like we lucked out on this one,'' said Wally Ramage, who operates a shop offering fuel and bait in Gulfport, Miss. ``We've had heavy rains and 3-foot tides, but the sky is brightening.''

At Dauphin Island south of Mobile, Mike Flowers said he had no plans to leave his home and rated Danny a minor disturbance.

``I'm 73 years old,'' he said. ``I've been through all of these.''

Many thought that, too, in Louisiana, but suffered when Danny was upgraded to hurricane rank early Friday and stormed through the swamps.

As Danny moved across Grand Isle, Louisiana's only inhabited barrier island, it piled water 5 feet deep, swamping cars and trucks but sparing most houses, which are built on stilts. The island's 2,000 residents were ordered to evacuate, but only about 800 did so, Grand Isle Alderman Robert Collins said.

``They didn't take it serious enough,'' he said.

``I ain't never seen water like this before. I was born and raised here,'' said Councilman David Camardelle.

The storm blew apart trailer homes in Venice, on the coast, and snapped power poles in Plaquemines Parish below New Orleans, which received only isolated squalls.

By JESSICA SAUNDERS,Associated Press Writer Copyright ©1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or distributed.