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Hurricane Danny Parks Over Mobile Bay, Trashes...

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GULF SHORES, ALA. (AP) — Hurricane Danny parked over Mobile Bayon Saturday, aiming 80-mph winds and torrential rain at Alabama'sresort coast, obliterating electrical power and flooding low-lyingseashore homes.

After edging across the mouth of the bay shortly after midnight,the hurricane's movement was virtually nonexistent for much of theday, battering the same area without relief.

By about 5:30 p.m. EDT, Danny was losing some of its circularshape and the winds had decreased, making it difficult formeteorologists to determine where exactly the eye was.

``We anticipate some weakening, but we're still getting rain andwind,'' said National Weather Service meteorologist Randy McKee inMobile.

The threat of tornadoes sent thousands to emergency shelters orthe safety of inland motels. At least one death was blamed on thestorm. About 20,000 homes and businesses lost power.

``The wind got to rocking the motor home so bad we got scaredand came in here,'' said Carl Foster, in a shelter set up at a highschool. Foster and his wife usually live in a seaside house builton pilings.

Despite the damage, with maximum sustained winds of 80 mph,Danny remained a relatively smallish hurricane, a far cry fromHurricane Frederic, which ravaged this seashore resort area in1979.

``This is nothing compared to Frederic,'' said Pleasant Church,65, who has lived in the area for nearly three decades. ``This is alittle blip.''

Nevertheless, rainfall was extreme. In the worst hit areas ofMobile County and Dauphin Island, nearly 30 inches had fallen sinceearly Friday.

Ground floors in some homes took water and some roads wereflooded, but major routes remained passable. There were fewtravelers, yet some worked hard to enjoy their vacations despitethe severe weather.

At the scenic Grand Hotel in nearby Point Clear, restaurantguests ate a continental breakfast as the center of the storm movedoverhead Saturday morning, watching bayside pine trees whipped byhigh wind.

With the help of generators, Grand Hotel manager David Monroevowed to stage a Saturday afternoon wedding in the ballroom asplanned ``come hell or high water.''

On its crawl toward Alabama, the storm's outer bands broughtrain and stormy seas to the Louisiana and Mississippi coasts,threatening the Florida Panhandle as well.

A lack of prevailing winds kept Danny churning virtually inplace, McKee said.

``There's just nothing to push it or pull it, so it's justmeandering over the bay,'' he said.

Tropical Storm Alberto was similar in 1994 when it stopped oversouthern Georgia and dumped torrential rains. Stationary storms``are not rare, but they're not common,'' McKee said.

Some 1,600 people sought refuge Saturday in 12 shelters inBaldwin and Mobile counties, and hundreds more went inland to rideout the storm.

The lone death blamed on the advancing storm was an unidentifiedman whose body was found Friday near a swamped sailboat off FortMorgan.

Most of the property damage was limited to torn roofs andfalling tree limbs, but a four-story Gulf Shores condominiumproject under construction crashed in the strong wind.

``It looked like something you'd see on TV, like it was in slowmotion,'' said Bonnie Larkin, who lives next door. ``It justbuckled and went down, like a domino effect.''

Along Mobile Bay's fashionable Eastern Shore, where bayfrontestates sit beneath tall pines and trees sheathed in Spanish moss,the storm knocked dead limbs to the ground but pleasure boatmarinas were reported mostly unscathed.

Patricia Shepard fled to a shelter from Gulf State Park, whereshe and 11 relatives had been camping out. The children thought itwas all part of the adventure.

``They thought it was pretty cool, all the wind and the rain,''Shepard said.

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

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