President Obama said the federal government is prepared for Irene, The National Weather Service urged beachgoers and those in coastal areas to undertake precautions and heed evacuation requests, and FEMA said they were there to help. But from Florida to Maryland, Hurricane Irene swept beachgoers out to sea, churned up surfers and sent trees and cars crashing into her victims on the shore, claiming nine lives directly, with several other deaths claimed as a related result as well.
And Pres. Obama, The National Weather Service and FEMA couldn’t do a thing to stop it. But the worst part is that many in the path of Hurricane Irene do have the ability to limit damage and death, if they heed the warnings of the emergency management system in their state, as well as law enforcement and emergency personnel.
Surfer dies due to Irene
Volusia County Beach Patrol Capt. Tammy Marris in Florida reported that Frederick Fernandez, a Smyrna Beach High school teacher, took to the surf on New Smyrna Beach around 11 a.m. Saturday, long past Florida’s short-lived flyby from Irene. But his coastal water adventure was short lived. He was pronounced dead a little after noon that day.
“One second they saw him surfing, the next second, they saw him face down.”
Fernandez likely assumed — like others do — that once Hurricane Irene was gone, it was safe to ride her remaining waves. But rip currents and winds are still strong enough to end in a fatality even after a hurricane has left the shoreline. A cut on his head is confirmed the licking he was still able to receive in spite of Irene’s absence.
In Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, surfers had been gearing up to ride Irene waves despite warnings they should exit the turbulent seas ahead of her anticipated visit. In the end, one received a broken surf board for his effort, and the beach was eventually shut down to all, essentially saving them from the same fate.
Beachgoer meets end due to Irene
A New Jersey tourist, James Palmer, 55, was dead at Beverly Beach in Florida hours after Fernandez died, meeting his own untimely death due to Irene’s coastal water strength.
The Orlando Sentinel reported Palmer entered rough surf approximately 2:40 p.m. on Saturday and minutes later was floating in it instead.
Like Wrightsville Beach, where surfers lamented the warnings that would keep them from waves they had only dreamed about, Cpt. Marris said that, “From a surfer’s point of view, it was a perfect surfing day.”
Irene kills with trees
Residents and visitors along the Eastern Seaboard anticipated danger from Irene as she swept the shoreline and churned the sea. What many didn’t anticipate, however, were how deadly trees — or their limbs — could be in the face of the tropical storm.
In Nash County, North Carolina a man was crushed to death by a tree limb loosened due to Irene’s winds and the heavy rains.
But tree deaths due to Irene didn’t stop there, with Fox News reporting the death of an 11-year-old boy due to a tree breeching his roof during the storm, as well as four other people — two in separate VA incidents, one in North Carolina, the last in Maryland — also going to their deaths due to falling trees or limbs.
Car crash Irene deaths
Churning oceans and flying limbs were Irene’s deadly weapons for the most part, but car crashes resulted as a result of the now-Category 1 storm, too. A North Carolina girl died when power outages at a road intersection led to a car crash she was involved in this weekend, and a Pitt County man in the same state suffered the same fate in an automobile crash this weekend due to Irene.
And other deaths have been attributed to the storm still approaching the New England area on Sunday: An Onslow County, North Carolina man suffered a heart attack as he prepared for Irene’s imminent visit, attempting to board his home against her.
Georgia saw no fatalities due to Irene, or major damage.There was one downed tree that fell on top of a trailer, but zero injuries were reported. Additionally, while the tide rose about two feet more than normal due to Irene, there was no noticeable flooding, according to Atlanta’s WSBTV.
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