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Leaving Louisiana, Hurricane Danny _ upgraded from tropical

By Janet McConnaugheyAssociated Press Published: July 19, 1997 12:00 AM

Leaving Louisiana, Hurricane Danny _ upgraded from tropical storm status

early today when its winds reached 75 mph _ moved across the Gulf of Mexico,

and was expected to move inland somewhere between Gulfport, Miss., and Mobile,

Ala., by Saturday afternoon.

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A hurricane warning remained in effect from Morgan City, La., to Destin,

Fla. Forecasters said Danny could bring 10 to 20 inches of rain to the Gulf


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In Grand Isle, Louisiana's only inhabited barrier island, it brought a storm

tide of 6 feet. There was damage but no reports of injuries.

``I ain't never seen water like this before. I was born and raised here,''

said Councilman David Camardelle, who also is president and director of

Grand Isle's levee board.

An 8-foot levee along the island's south side couldn't protect it, because

the storm pushed water in from the north, he said.

Cars and trucks were covered, but Grand Isle is built for floods, with houses

and other buildings up on pilings. They suffered mostly wind damage, Camardelle

said, adding, ``If anything was left underneath them, it was washed away.''

Although the island's 2,000 residents were ordered to evacuate, Grand Isle

Alderman Robert Collins estimated that only about 40 percent did so. ``They

didn't take it serious enough,'' he said.

One of those who stayed on Grand Isle was Tracey Polkey. Shortly after the

eye moved over the island early today, she said in a telephone interview:

``It's blowing more than ever now. I can't believe this. There's things

banging around. We have no idea what they are. They have logs floating in

the main highway and its all coming into my yard.''

At 1 p.m. CDT, the barely moving storm was centered about 60 miles east-southeast

of New Orleans over the Gulf of Mexico, or about 90 miles southwest of Mobile,


After pounding Grand Isle, the storm passed this morning over a sparsely

populated tongue of marshland where the mouth of the Mississippi River pokes

out into the Gulf of Mexico. Damage appeared minimal, Plaquemines Parish

President Clyde Giordano said.

``What we're seeing mainly is some minor trailer damage, a lot of power

lines down, phones down, trees down and plenty of water. But it's not a

veritable sea like it's been when we had the tremendous flood tides,'' he


Doris Bernard of the Plaquemines town of Port Sulfur spent the night in

her sister's small travel trailer, which has a generator because her sister

is on oxygen. ``Praise God it was tied down real good. It still shook real

bad,'' she said _ though not badly enough to keep them from playing a domino-like

game called Rummikub.

To the northeast, coastal residents were getting ready.

C.T. Switzer, a Harrison County, Miss., supervisor and veteran of past hurricanes,

said concerns were easing in all but the eastern coastal areas of Mississippi

as Danny settled more on a northeast tract.

``We're keeping our fingers crossed it will keep on the track like they

are forecasting,'' said Switzer. ``If it does, we (Gulfport-Biloxi area)

will be on the lee side and will probably be looking at no more than gale

force winds and lots of rain.''

In Alabama, many tourists checked out early, and Baldwin and Mobile County

officials advised residents in low-lying areas, as well as those in mobile

homes and recreational vehicles, to go to more a more secure shelter.

As rain fell, RVs and cars with luggage atop moved in a slow line on State

Highway 59, the main road north from the beach. Traffic was bumper to bumper

at times.

Danny was barely strong enough to be classified a hurricane, with maximum

sustained winds clocked at 75 mph and gusts up to 95 mph. It was fairly

compact, which hurricane-force winds extending out only about 25 miles,

mainly to the east of the center.

New Orleans, about 40 miles from the storm's center, got only a few isolated

squalls, but no big rains or winds. For the most part, business went on

as usual.

Danny is the fourth named storm and second hurricane of the season. The

first, Bill, was born July 12 in the north Atlantic Ocean, but was downgraded

just 13 hours later while standing 290 miles south of Cape Race, Newfoundland.

Storms get names and are officially classified as tropical storms when sustained

winds reach 39 mph; they become hurricanes at 74 mph.

After forming Wednesday morning in the north central Gulf and then stalling

Wednesday night, Danny built into a tropical storm Thursday morning. It

drifted northeast, then came to a virtual standstill about 110 miles southwest

of New Orleans.

By Thursday night, Danny was on the move again. It was upgraded to a hurricane

early this morning as it moved over southern Louisiana.

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