Today in History: Millions evacuate in fear of Hurricane Floyd

Millions of people evacuated their homes as Hurricane Floyd moved across the Atlantic Ocean on this day in 1999.

Floyd began as a tropical storm on 7 September and attained hurricane status three days later. By 12 September, its winds had reached 225km/ h as the storm approached the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

Floyd skirted past these islands though, leaving relatively minor damage in its wake. On 14 September, Floyd approached the Bahamas and looked to be on a collision course with central Florida. Walt Disney World closed its doors in preparation for the first time in its history and NASA operations at Cape Canaveral were shut down to get ready for the coming storm.

In all, approximately three million people evacuated their homes. Meanwhile, the Bahamas were spared a direct hit and, although millions of dollars in damages were incurred, only one person was killed on the islands.

Gaining strength over the warm waters of the Caribbean, Floyd was a Category 4 storm when it hit the Florida coast the next day. It turned out to be North Carolina that would bear the brunt of Floyd however, as it landed a direct hit on the state’s Cape Fear region.

Torrential rains caused flooding that ended in the drowning deaths of 56 people, and 6 000 houses were lost to the storm. Floyd brought rain and flooding with it all the way up the Eastern seaboard to Connecticut.

In all, 68 people died from Hurricane Floyd. Out of deference to the destruction it caused, the National Hurricane Center retired the name “Floyd” in the spring of 2000.

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  AUTHOR
Blake Linder
Journalist

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