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Hurricane Lashes East, Heads to Sea : Mid-Atlantic Coast Hit by High Winds, Heavy Rains; 5 Dead

August 18, 1986|From Times Wire Services

A weakened Hurricane Charley headed out to sea today after lashing the mid-Atlantic coast with high winds and heavy rains, causing at least five deaths and prompting thousands of coastal residents to evacuate.

The National Weather Service discontinued all hurricane watches and warnings at noon, saying that any hurricane-force winds in the system were confined to a few squalls over open water.

"We expect it to gradually decrease in the next 12 to 24 hours," said hurricane forecaster Bob Case.

Gale warnings for winds up to 55 m.p.h. remained in effect from Delaware Bay to Cape Cod, Mass.

The storm hit New Jersey's south shore today with driving rain, winds at 50 m.p.h. and gusts to 65 m.p.h.

Gamblers Bet on Safety

No evacuations were ordered in Atlantic City, where most residents and vacationers chose to ride out the storm. Most notable were the gamblers on Atlantic City's Boardwalk, who refused to desert the slot machines and crap tables.

"What hurricane? I'm not even aware of a hurricane," one gambler said.

The death toll included a 23-year-old Virginia man, whose car struck a storm-downed tree today, and three people aboard a small plane that crashed Sunday into the Chesapeake Bay near Baltimore as it tried to land during a hurricane-spawned storm.

A Manteo, N.C., woman died when her car apparently slid into a canal on an Outer Banks causeway Sunday, state police said. The causeway was flooded and reported impassable Sunday evening.

Charley caused power outages and flooding of up to three feet but little damage on the Outer Banks on Sunday. As many as 10,000 tourists and residents fleeing the fragile islands jammed roads to the mainland for a short-lived evacuation.

The hurricane knocked down trees and signs on the Virginia mainland Sunday evening and left about 110,000 people without power, authorities said.

The storm also washed out a 250-foot section of Harrison's Pier, a Norfolk landmark.

High Tides Expected

Tides were expected to be one to three feet above normal in the gale warning areas, forecasters said.

Officials had warned that the storm surge could combine with an unusually high astronomical tide to produce coastal flooding. However, anticipated high tides failed to materialize along the Virginia and Maryland coasts.

At noon, Charley's center was about 75 miles southeast of Atlantic City. The storm was moving north-northeast at 10 to 15 m.p.h.

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