After Floyd, lots of water and even more complaints

The evacuation was enormous, but some say the 15-hour traffic jams on

Millions of residents in the Southeast are beginning to emerge from behind their storm shutters, pumps and brooms in hand, while Northeasterners are still dealing with the remnants of hurricane Floyd.

Mercifully, the once-powerful storm that clawed virtually the entire East Coast didn't turn out to be as devastating as it looked at first. But the hurricane did destroy piers, erode beaches, damage buildings, and leave its calling card in residents' basements and beach homes from Florida to Maine.

Even as parts of the Northeast were still dealing with Floyd's headstrong winds and torrential rains, emergency management officials elsewhere were looking for lessons in one of the season's first big hurricanes.

One conclusion: the need to perfect ways to evacuate massive numbers of people. While evacuations went relatively well in Florida, tens of thousands of residents in the Carolinas were stranded on highways for hours.

Some argue state officials should have acted quicker to turn highways heading inland into one-way roads. Others say the National Guard could have played a more prominent role. Many believe people simply need to act faster when told to evacuate. Many waited to the last minute, adding to traffic tie ups.

While officials are still trying to figure out why the traffic problem was so severe, they point out that South Carolina's interstates were clogged with Georgians and Floridians fleeing their coast as well.

Authorities had urged more than 3.5 million people along the southern Atlantic coast to clear out of Floyd's path - the largest peacetime evacuation in US history. "It sounds like people are taking this seriously indeed and we're quite pleased with that," says forecaster Jack Beven at the National Hurricane Center.

After tearing up the East Coast for two days, hurricane Floyd - its winds acting like a weed-eater - finally chewed into land in North Carolina early yesterday and began raging its way further north.

In the wake of one of the most powerful hurricanes to hit the United States in decades, many residents are now beginning to assess the damage in preparation for the long cleanup.

Florida and Georgia residents, spared the worst of Floyd's wrath, returned home Wednesday evening. Further north, many schools, offices, and government buildings were closed in Washington, New York, and Boston.

*News wire material was used in this report

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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