CNN on the ground: Real Jersey shore in no hurry to evacuate; residents flee coast
August 26th, 2011
03:38 PM ET

CNN on the ground: Real Jersey shore in no hurry to evacuate; residents flee coast

Editor's Note: CNN has reporters up and down the East Coast to cover Hurricane Irene. We'll be providing updates throughout the day on the scenes they are coming across and the people they talk to.

[Updated 7:30 a.m. Saturday]

(WASHINGTON) The sun is peeking through on the National Mall in Washington. The city will resume passing out sandbags at noon. Yesterday they ran out of sandbags at 5 p.m. City residents can get five sandbags per household. For this storm, city officials are using Twitter to keep in touch with residents in addition to traditional media. Officials are using the hashtag #DCIrene on the microblogging site to get information out.

- CNN'S Eric Marrapodi

[Updated at 8:59 p.m. ET ]

(IN THE OUTER BANKS, NORTH CAROLINA) I've been feeling the storm escalate with every passing hour.  The rain is nonstop and the gale force winds are now gusting up to  tropical storm strength. This is a fraction of what's to come after dawn.  Authorities warn residents on the Outer Banks to heed the mandatory evacuation orders or risk the dangers of the storm alone.  Emergency personnel will not venture out into the storm because it's too risky.  Roads may be flooded or blocked for days after.  Everyone has been advised to be prepared to be on their own for at least 72 hours.

- CNN’s David Mattingly

[Updated at 8:30 p.m. ET ]

(SEASIDE HEIGHTS, NEW JERSEY)  This is the place where they filmed the MTV reality show “Jersey Shore”.  I was at the casino pier, which is actually like a boardwalk similar to New York's Coney Island. People were out enjoying the beach, getting tans and surfing.

With temperatures about 85 degrees,  it was a really nice day to be at the beach here. I heard Governor Chris Christie telling people to get off the beaches, but it didn’t seem to stop the people. I was told by regular beach-goers that the crowds weren’t nearly as big today. It was noticeably not crowded but it wasn’t a ghost town either.

Talking to tourists, some said they came down to enjoy the weekend and that they felt like thir trip was being cut short. One guy said he had just got to his hotel and was told they were going to close so he couldn’t even check in.

- journalist Aaron Brodie 

[Updated at 6:20 p.m. ET ]

(KILL DEVIL HILLS, NORTH CAROLINA)  After boarding up their house, a family in Kill Devil Hills left a spray-painted message for the storm on one of the boarded-up windows of their home.  "Good Night, Irene," the message said.

A sign expresses the sentiments of residents in Kill Devil Hills, N.C.

The Nags Head Fire and Rescue Department also had a message for the hurricane:  "Go Away, Irene," the message written on a bulletin board outside their building said.

A sign outside a building in Kill Devil Hills, N.C., is addressed to the storm.

We found a couple going for one last walk on the beach before the arrival of Irene.  We also found a family with two young boys flying kites there.

Drew Goulde, a Kill Devil Hills resident and a maintenance worker at the
local Ramada Inn hotel, was surfing, taking advantage of a higher-than-usual tide.

"It is fun," Goulde said.  "I'm just messing around right now.  It's kind of
heavy out there though."

He said he would have to return to work at the hotel as soon as the
hurricane makes landfall sometime on Saturday afternoon.

- CNN’s Rafael Romo

[Updated at 5:30 p.m. ET ]

(KILL DEVIL HILLS, NORTH CAROLINA)  We are on the beach.  The first outer rain is just beginning to reach us. The wind has slowly intensified, but nowhere near gale-force yet. No one is in the water, and the few people on the beach are being told not to swim.

The weather worsens at a beach in North Carolina.

I'm manning a beach camera with CNN's David Mattingly. The camera is visible at the top right, covered with a black trash bag (a preferred protection over conventional rain covers; it's more versatile). As conditions worsen, we will go to a hotel balcony overlook with drier conditions and will continue broadcasting into the night and for the duration.  We've stocked our work space with water and food (the least salty or sweet the better).

- CNN Cameraman Jay Schexnyder

[Updated at 3:38 p.m. ET ]

(STUMPY POINT, NORTH CAROLINA) Evacuating your home is never easy. And it gets a lot harder when you’re by yourself and have three toddlers in tow.

Kimberly Roehrig left her home in Stumpy Point, North Carolina. Her mom dropped her and her kids off at a specially designed county meeting point.

Here, she, Madison, 7, Faith 4, and 10-month-old Waylon would catch a county bus that will take her to a shelter off  North Carolina’s Outer Banks. She told us that she lives too close to the water.

“We boarded up, but we’re afraid it’s gonna flood,” she told CNN.

Kimberly Roehrig thinks the water may flood out her home, so she’s bringing her kids to a shelter.

“I don’t want to be there for a flood,” she said with a nervous smile.

Kimberly says she left her boyfriend behind to ride Hurricane Irene out in their home, along with their pets.

“I’m a little nervous, but as long as we have shelter, we’ll be ok,” she said.

- CNN's Rich Phillips

[Updated at 3:38 p.m. ET ]

(NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK) In a hurricane the higher you go, the stronger the wind gusts are. Construction workers have that in mind as they secure One World Trade Center in New York ahead of Irene’s arrival.

While the windows being installed on the soon-to-be tallest building in the U.S. are designed to withstand 125 mph winds they’re only in place up to the 52nd floor. Steel beams taking the place of the Twin Towers have risen to the 80th floor. The remaining upper floors are open to the elements.

Construction continues at the World Trade Center site.

That’s a serious concern because anything blown off a building from that height, even something as small as a bolt, can become a deadly projectile in a hurricane.

From now until 2 p.m. on Saturday - when all work is scheduled to be halted at the World Trade Center site - construction workers will be busy securing anything and everything.

“They are very big on safety here,” said Kelly Potts, an electrician working on One World Trade Center. “If anything is not tied down they will address it and fix it.”

She said anything loose is either being moved to lower floors or chained to steel beams.

“Loose boards, metal, anything that’s near the edge of the platform… they are going to make sure that it’s away from there and tied down.”

The construction cranes high atop the World Trade Center site will also be secured sometime Saturday. They are designed to withstand strong winds. Construction workers on the site are well aware how serious high winds are at a skyscraper under construction. While the Time Warner Center was being built a few years ago at Columbus Circle in New York a plywood board was blown off the building. It struck a man below killing him.

Listen to the full story here:

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- CNN Radio's Steve Kastenbaum

FULL POST

June 7th, 2011
09:46 PM ET

Texas officials say no bodies found at home

[Updated at 9:46 p.m. ET] A tipster launched a search for bodies in Texas on Tuesday evening, but a search of property in a rural area turned up no evidence of any homicides, authorities said.

"We have no indication there are in fact any bodies in the residence or on the property," Liberty County Sheriff's Office Capt. Rex Evans told reporters.

Officials came with a search warrant to look at the property near the town of Hardin. Aerial footage showed officers standing outside a single-story residence in a rural area.

Evans said authorities now will try to locate and speak with the unidentified female caller.

Earlier, a federal official said at least 20 bodies had been found at a home in Hardin. A federal official later said officials were receiving conflicting information about that report.

Hardin is about 60 miles northeast of Houston.

FULL POST

Alabama storm victim to spend first Mother's Day in shelter
Leicia Fairchild and her son, Christian, survived last week's devastating storms in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
May 7th, 2011
09:07 PM ET

Alabama storm victim to spend first Mother's Day in shelter

Leicia Fairchild had only one thing on her mind as a tornado ripped apart her home in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, last week.

"My son, my son, I got to get to my son," Fairchild recalls.

Fairchild was relieved to find her 8-week-old son, Christian, unharmed in her mother's home down the hill. But her elation has turned into despair as she gets ready to spend her first Mother's Day in a shelter with more than 200 others displaced by last week's devastating storms.

"I pictured Mother's Day at home with his father, and happy and everything, and it's far from happy. I’m in a shelter with my son," she said.

The American Red Cross set up the shelter just a few miles outside Tuscaloosa, where a massive tornado cut a 5.9-mile-long path of destruction last week. More than 5,700 structures were damaged and destroyed, affecting an estimated 13,700 people, a mayoral spokeswoman said. The city has held off on releasing an official count of the dead, but CNN last reported the death toll at 50.

Ground zero in Tuscaloosa: Horror and hope, tears and prayers

Fairchild was sitting at home with the father of her baby when she heard a loud noise and looked out the window and saw a tornado heading for her house.

"We ran and just dove under the sink and the whole house lifted up and started to go with the wind, and we were just praying to God the whole time and all I could think about was my baby,” Fairchild said Saturday as she sat in the shelter's cafeteria.

Before the storm had ended, she was running down the hill to see if her mother's home was still there.

"They pulled nails out of my feet where I had to run through my house. We had to climb over a huge tree that landed on our house that was blocking the door, and I had to climb over that tree. I was determined to get to my son."

The child was unharmed. Fairchild's mother and the boy's father also survived, but their homes were destroyed.

Fairchild hopes to leave the shelter soon and move into an apartment. Her first Mother's Day wasn’t supposed to be like this.

"He's a blessing. I get to tell him he lived through a tornado at 8 weeks old."

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Filed under: Alabama • Tornadoes • Weather