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With Hurricane Lili Gone, Cleanup Begins

October 05, 2002|From Reuters

NEW ORLEANS — Louisiana residents pulled out their chainsaws and mops Friday to clean up the mess left by Hurricane Lili after the storm struck the state a blow that was painful but not deadly.

Southern Louisiana was littered with fallen trees, downed power lines and glass after the hurricane came ashore Thursday with 100-mph winds and as much as 8 inches of rain. But only a few injuries and no deaths were reported, state officials said.

Lili killed at least six people in Jamaica and Cuba when it crossed the Caribbean earlier in the week.

The storm generated winds of 145 mph Wednesday as it took aim at Louisiana, but it lost much of its punch just before making landfall.

Weather experts said cooler water in the northern Gulf of Mexico and a layer of dry air near the coast depleted much of Lili's strength. It was little more than a rainstorm Friday as its remnants moved across Kentucky and Indiana.

Before fading, Lili toppled thousands of trees, some of which fell into houses, and blew down so many power lines in coastal counties that the area was in almost total blackout Thursday.

National Guard crews and municipal workers were out in force Friday, using chainsaws to cut and remove trees that blocked roads.

In Vermillion Parish, where the storm came ashore, no one had electricity, officials said.

Utility companies sent hundreds of extra workers to repair lines, but 317,000 homes and businesses were still blacked out Friday night, said Debbie Conrad of the Louisiana Office of Emergency Preparedness.

"In terms of the number of outages, this is the worst storm in the history of this company," said Ann Jenkins, spokeswoman for Cleco Corp., which provides electricity to the central coastal region that was worst hit.

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