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Hurricane Isabel Hits US East Coast, Shuts Down Washington DC

VOA News

18 Sep 2003, 17:52 UTC



Hurricane Isabel has hit the U.S. East Coast - shutting down the nation's capital and disrupting air and rail traffic.

Nearly 50 million people live in the path of the storm, which is expected to move north through the states of Virginia and Maryland to Pennsylvania. Hurricane and tropical storm warnings are in effect from South Carolina to New Jersey.


In Washington D.C., the federal government has closed most of its agencies and transit authorities closed the subway and bus systems. Members of the House of Representatives left Washington D.C. Wednesday and the Senate is closed today.


President Bush says emergency authorities are prepared for the hurricane. The president left Washington ahead of the storm Wednesday for a meeting today with Jordan's King Abdullah at his Camp David retreat.


Amtrak has halted rail service south of Washington, and airlines have canceled nearly 700 flights, as the storm begins to severely disrupt the nation's air service.


Isabel is now coming ashore on North Carolina's Outer Banks - with gusting winds, heavy rain and pounding waves. More than 500,000 people have already lost power in North Carolina and Virginia.


Forecasters are worried the storm surges from Isabel could coincide with the early afternoon high tide, causing widespread flooding. They say the worst damage could come from flooding far inland. They also warned that this is an unusually large storm, and that some areas could be pummeled for 24 hours.


Meanwhile, the American Red Cross says that too many disasters and too few donations are taking a toll, leaving the organization with huge deficits in their disaster relief funds. The national office issued a new plea for immediate donations of money and blood.

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