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Officials Assess Fran's Damage in N. Carolina

Hurricane: Victims will receive food and funding aid, Agriculture secretary says. Death toll rises to 34; flooding persists in many areas.

September 10, 1996| From Times Wire Services

RALEIGH, N.C. — Officials who surveyed parts of North Carolina on Monday expressed disbelief over the extensive destruction left by Hurricane Fran and said it would take time to add up the damage.

Hurricane Fran came ashore at Cape Fear on Thursday and ravaged the state with 120-mph winds as it pushed northwest.

North Carolina Gov. James B. Hunt Jr. said he had not been given an estimate on damage to property and farms, although the State Emergency Response Team earlier announced projections for housing losses at $900 million and building losses at $30 million.

"This is the worst disaster we've had in this century," Hunt told a news conference.

Hunt was joined by U.S. Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman, who reiterated the government's pledge to help hurricane victims with food assistance and emergency farm loans.

North Carolina corn, cotton and soybeans were damaged by Fran's fury. Much of the state's top crop, tobacco, spoiled in barns when lack of electricity interrupted the curing process.

Flooding persisted in Fran's wake, and Federal Emergency Management Agency teams delivered portable generators to provide emergency power to isolated residents and to any hospitals and sewage plants that might have exhausted their backup power supplies.

Doug Culbreth of the state's Energy Division said 477,000 customers remained without power Monday afternoon. State troopers directed traffic at blacked-out intersections and helped utility crews.

Fran left at least 34 people dead, and a 17-year-old boy remained missing two days after going swimming in a swollen Raleigh creek.

In Washington, the Potomac began to recede, but not before the flooding formed traffic bottlenecks around the National Mall. Water covered main roads used to reach many government offices.

President Clinton toured the surging flood waters of the Potomac by helicopter Monday. He flew 20 miles along the muddy river separating Washington from Maryland and Virginia, above a waterlogged park where he sometimes jogs and over the flooded streets of the Old Town district of Alexandria, Va.

The 27-minute tour also took Clinton over the historic Chesapeake & Ohio Canal and towpath, which was heavily damaged in storms last winter and had just been repaired. The canal incurred more flood damage.

Clinton's tour took him over Hains Point, a grassy park jutting into the Potomac. At the tip of the park, a large sculpture called "The Awakening," which depicts the face, arm, hand and leg of a man struggling up from the Earth, was nearly covered by water.

In the Caribbean, Hurricane Hortense edged across the Atlantic toward the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, where schools and government offices were closed.

Hortense carried 80-mph winds and heavy rains.

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