(Updated Wednesday, 9/15/99, 11:30 p.m. Eastern Time.) Truckers from Miami to New England are dealing with the most powerful hurricane of the season.
Floyd is pounding the eastern seaboard as it approaches the Carolinas on its way north before it's expected to head into the cooler waters of the North Atlantic. Add to this the most massive peacetime evacuation in the nation's history from coastal cities, and it all adds up to a one big headache for trucking.
Landfall is expected between Myrtle Beach and Wilmington, NC, by Thursday morning.
Driver Bennie Foy is located in Statesville, NC, near the I-40/I-77 interchange, in the western half of the state. "The wind and the rain is starting to pick up around here, but it appears the worst effects of the storm should be east of the I-95 corridor," he says.
Because many were expecting Floyd to slam into the coast and head further inland, some carriers were caught unprepared. "I spoke to one terminal manager today who sent trucks to New England, not realizing the storm was headed that way," Foy says.
Along the usually busy I-95 corridor there is hard rain and winds, and drivers are discouraged from using the route in the Carolinas and Georgia. With the storm tracking almost parallel to I-95, conditions further north are expected to rapidly deteriorate.
Florida has lifted evacuation orders for all but one county. However, evacuation orders are still in place in Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia. Further north, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and New York have declared a state of emergency, which will no doubt complicate the efforts of trucks as they try to get in or out of these areas. Meanwhile, intermodal ports have been busy scrambling to get containers unloaded from ships so the cargo can be hauled away.
The mayor of Charleston has blasted his state's transportation department for the way they've handled the evacuation. Joseph Riley Jr. says they waited too long too open up all lanes of I-26 inland away from the city, forcing motorists to wait several hours just to go a few miles.
As of late Wednesday, the storm had lost some of its punch, with winds dropping to 115 mph. As Floyd is expected to be downgraded to a tropical storm, it's believed it will pass over the nation's capitol and Maryland into New England by Friday evening. Several states have already been declared disaster areas
For more information:
CNN weather updates: http://www.cnn.com/WEATHER/
Miami Herald: http://www.herald.com/content/today/content.htm
Atlanta Journal-Constitution: http://www.accessatlanta.com/partners/ajc/
Charleston (SC) Daily News: http://thecharlestondailynews.com/
Wilmington (NC) Morning Star: http://starnews.wilmington.net/
Florida emergency information line: 1-800-342-3557
South Carolina emergency info: 1-800-256-8535
North Carolina emergency line: (919) 733-2448
Georgia emergency information (in-state only): 1-800-879-4362.