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Danger of Inland Flooding the Focus as Atlantic Hurricane Season BeginsAired June 1, 2000 - 1:23 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: This is the first day of the Atlantic hurricane season, and most experts anticipate a busy one. This year, officials with the National Hurricane Center plan to highlight the danger of inland flooding and storm surge.
CNN Miami bureau chief John Zarrella reports.
JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN MIAMI BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): Last season's Hurricane Floyd taught emergency managers a lesson they want coastal residents to understand.
MICHELE BAKER, PASCO COUNTY EMERGENCY MANAGER: If you are not required to evacuate, if you don't live in a vulnerable area, it is critical that you stay home.
ZARRELLA: In Florida alone, an estimated 2 million people evacuated their homes as Hurricane Floyd approached. The problem: Only a million were ordered out. Massive retreats from the coast clogged roadways from central Florida to the Carolinas, straining shelter capacity and emergency resources and putting lives at significant risk.
JOE MYERS, DIRECTOR, FLORIDA EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT: Well, next time, what we're going to be doing is communicating with the people better, we're going to use technology more, the Internet, where people can pull up, put their address in and be able to see if they live in an area that may have to be evacuated.
ZARRELLA: Forecasters say Floyd also validated a recent study. Of the 600 people killed by hurricanes in the United States over the past 30 years, 300 died inland, not at the coast. In Floyd, half the 56 deaths were inland.
Historically, coastal storm surge killed nine out of 10 people. Satellite monitoring and advances in forecasting a hurricane's track now give coastal residents time to get out of harm's way. But experts fear a single surprise event: A hurricane rapidly strengthens near the coast with no time to order evacuations.
ED RAPPAPORT, HURRICANE SPECIALIST: Each of us familiar with the hurricane warning program still thinks that the next great loss, great catastrophe, perhaps hundreds of lives or thousands of lives, will occur at the coast as a result of storm surge.
ZARRELLA: Forecasters believe this season will produce at least 11 named storms; three of them major hurricanes on the order of Floyd. But, they add, don't get hung up on numbers. In 1992, there were only six named storms, well below the average. But one of them was Andrew, the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history.
John Zarrella, CNN, Miami.
ALLEN: Those pictures are always just kind of frightening, especially on this day as we head into a new season that, as me mentioned, they expect might be a doozie.
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