Hurricane Nate Spares Southern States, Weakening To Tropical Depression

Oct 8, 2017
Originally published on October 9, 2017 12:24 am
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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

We'll start in the central Gulf Coast, which is cleaning up after Hurricane Nate made landfall overnight. The storm is just a tropical depression now, but it is dousing the Southeast. There's been scattered flooding and widespread power outages. No deaths or serious injuries have been reported, and the region was largely spared the kind of catastrophic destruction caused by other hurricanes that have hit the U.S. in the past few weeks. NPR's Debbie Elliott reports.

DEBBIE ELLIOTT, BYLINE: Nate came ashore as a Category 1 hurricane on the Mississippi Gulf Coast just after midnight, sending a storm surge crashing over the coastal highway. Its 80-mile-an-hour winds downed trees and power lines.

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ELLIOTT: At daybreak, people awoke to a mess and no electricity but glad to have escaped the worst.

JOHN BARR: Everybody got blessed around here.

ELLIOTT: John Barr (ph) was out in Ocean Springs, Miss., this morning, helping his next-door neighbor clear a towering oak tree toppled by the storm.

BARR: Water oak - so it just missed his house. He just had little limbs down in the yard. That's about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Yeah.

BARR: Yeah, so...

ELLIOTT: Some homes and businesses were flooded in Biloxi, where the mayor says there were several overnight rescues of people trapped by floodwaters. Local workers spent the day clearing debris from roadways, so that power crews could make repairs and business could resume. Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant says preparation in advance of the storm, including evacuations and curfews, helped prevent catastrophe.

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PHIL BRYANT: You know, we are extremely fortunate there has been no loss of life due to the storm.

ELLIOTT: Nate moved quickly once it came ashore, which lessened the impact. Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards says the state escaped major damage, including metropolitan New Orleans, which had braced for potential flooding with a drainage pump system not operating at full capacity. Nate's biggest impact has been to the east of where it made landfall. In Mobile, Ala., this morning, downtown streets were flooded, and some neighborhoods were mucking out wet homes and vehicles.

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ELLIOTT: Anthony Gordon (ph) is using a beach towel to sop the flood water from under the seats of his Volvo.

ANTHONY GORDON: Floorboard is wet. Just trying to get the water out of this car.

ELLIOTT: Will it start?

GORDON: I don't know. It's going to try. (Unintelligible) battery low.

ELLIOTT: He's a mechanic by trade.

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ELLIOTT: As the engine revs, water shoots out of the muffler. Gordon's house near the banks of the Dog River is also flooded.

GORDON: I got a little nervous when that water came up in my house about that high. I was like, man, I'm going to have to get up out of here, while I'm laying in the bed. Me and my wife - we was laying in the bed.

ELLIOTT: The water got up to about two feet, he says. And loose garbage cans bounced against his house as Hurricane Nate passed through.

GORDON: Boom. Boom. Boom.

ELLIOTT: A few families in his neighborhood had to be rescued overnight by high-water vehicles. He's facing wet carpet, ruined furniture and damp clothes, but is keeping his spirits high.

GORDON: That's Mother Nature. What could I do? God work - there it is. I've got to go with the good and the bad.

ELLIOTT: Gordon says this is the second time in 10 years his house has flooded, and he's not sure he can take it again. The soaking from Nate has him thinking about moving. Debbie Elliott, NPR News, Mobile. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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