Tropical Storm Isaias spawned deadly tornadoes and dumped rain during an inland march up the U.S. East Coast on Tuesday after making landfall as a hurricane along the North Carolina coast, where it piled boats against docks and caused floods and fires that displaced dozens of people.
At least two people were killed when one of the twisters hit a mobile home park.
Over 12 hours after coming ashore, Isaias was packing sustained top winds of 105 kilometres per hour. At 2 p.m. ET Tuesday, the storm’s centre was about 105 kilometres west of New York City, where winds forced the Staten Island ferry and outdoor subway lines to shut down. The storm was moving northward at about 55 kilometres per hour.
“Potentially life-threatening urban flooding is possible in D.C., Baltimore and elsewhere along and just west of the I-95 corridor today,” the U.S. National Hurricane Center warned.
Forecasters also issued clear warnings earlier as Isaias approached land, urging people to heed the danger of “life-threatening storm surge inundation” along the coasts of North and South Carolina.
Two people died and about 20 were injured after a tornado “totally demolished” several mobile homes in Windsor, N.C., said Juan Vaughan II, county manager for Bertie County. Three people were unaccounted for, authorities said.
“We’re still in active searches going on right now,” Vaughan said. “We really want to make sure everyone is found safe as soon as possible.”
An aerial shot by WRAL-TV showed fields of debris where rescue workers in brightly coloured shirts picked through splintered boards and other wreckage. Nearby, a vehicle was flipped onto its roof, tires pointed up in the air.
“It doesn’t look real, it looks like something on TV. Nothing is there,” Bertie County Sheriff John Holley told reporters. “All my officers are down there at this time. Pretty much the entire trailer park is gone.”
Sky5 shows the destruction of a mobile home community in the town of Windsor in Bertie County after a tornado. At least one person killed, 10 homes destroyed. Several people missing. Heartbreaking <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/wral?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#wral</a> <a href=”https://t.co/GIuLz96vjs”>pic.twitter.com/GIuLz96vjs</a>
Significant power outages, large storm surge
The hurricane had touched down just after 11 p.m. local time Monday near Ocean Island, N.C., with maximum sustained winds of 136 km/h.
Forecasters said hurricane-force gusts were likely in the Chesapeake Bay region, and tropical storm conditions were expected across New England Tuesday night.
“We don’t think there is going to be a whole lot of weakening, we still think there’s going to be very strong and gusty winds that will affect much of the mid-Atlantic and the northeast over the next day or two,” hurricane specialist Robbie Berg told The Associated Press.
Forecasters had warned tornadoes were possible, and two were later confirmed, near Kilmarnock, Va., and Vienna, Md. Heavy rains were predicted, along with falling trees that could cause power outages as Isaias moves north.
More than 600,000 customers lost electricity, most of them in North Carolina and Virginia, according to PowerOutage.US, which tracks utility reports.
Isaias toggled between tropical storm and hurricane strength throughout its path to the U.S. coast, killing two people in the Caribbean and trashing the Bahamas before brushing past Florida.
Most of the significant damage seemed to be east and north of where the hurricane’s eye struck land.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said Tuesday morning that Brunswick, Pender and Onslow counties, along the state’s southeast coast, were among the hardest hit with storm surge, structure fires and reports of tornadoes.
About two dozen shelters were open due to the storm, he said.
As the storm neared the shore, a gauge on a pier in Myrtle Beach, S.C., recorded its third-highest water level since it was set up in 1976. Only Hurricane Hugo in 1989 and Hurricane Matthew in 2016 pushed more salt water inland.
Eileen and David Hubler were out early Tuesday cleaning up in North Myrtle Beach, where the storm surge topped 1.2 metres, flooding cars, unhinging docks and etching a water line into the side of their home.
“When the water started coming, it did not stop,” Eileen Hubler told The Associated Press.
They had moved most items of value to their second floor, but a mattress and washing machine were unexpected storm casualties. Eileen Hubler said the wrath of Isaias was downplayed, and she wished she had followed her gut.
Tropical Storm Conditions are expected to reach southern New England by early this afternoon and northern New England by this evening. Here is the mostly likely time of arrival of tropical storm force winds for the area. <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/Isaias?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#Isaias</a> <a href=”https://t.co/75CsgQAxXF”>pic.twitter.com/75CsgQAxXF</a>
“We keep thinking we’ve learned our lesson. And each time there’s a hurricane, we learn a new lesson. The new lesson is you never trust that you’re going to have a two-foot storm surge,” she said.
In Southport, N.C., the storm surge and wind gusts left dozens of boats piled up against the docks, and many decks facing the water were smashed. People were out Tuesday morning cleaning up debris.
Royce Potter, a fifth-generation seafood purveyor and owner of Potter’s Seafood, said forecasters led him to believe the area would be spared, so he rode out the storm on a boat docked near his business, which sustained water and wind damage.
“They got this wrong,” he said, visibly shaken. “I’ve ridden storms out here for years.”
Flooding, felled trees in Carolinas, Virginia
On North Carolina’s Oak Island, deputies had to rescue five adults and three children after the storm hit, causing damage along the beachfront and knocking electricity and sewer facilities offline, authorities said.
In Suffolk, Va., near the coast, multiple homes were damaged by falling trees, and city officials received reports of a possible tornado.
A fire station downtown sustained damage including broken windows. A photo posted by city officials showed a pile of bricks next to a damaged business.
A tropical storm warning extended all the way up to Maine, where flash flooding is possible in some areas on Wednesday.