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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Claudette Cools Off

Aired July 15, 2003 - 20:04   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: The Atlantic season's first hurricane, it is now a tropical storm, thank goodness. Before being downgraded, Claudette pounded the central Texas coast.
Martin Savidge is standing by in Galveston sizing up the mess Claudette has left behind.

Good evening, Martin. How bad did it get?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Paula, the sun's back out now, but it was bad enough here in Galveston.

In fact, just a short while ago, the city council of Galveston declared the west part of the island -- that's this part of the island -- a disaster area. A curfew is in effect from 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. Power is out in a lot of areas. They're trying to get it back on.

There were some people that stuck it out. For them, it was a longer night than expected.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at that! Look at that!

SAVIDGE (voice-over): For a minimal hurricane, Claudette packed a mean punch to parts of the Texas coast. Angry waves the color of chocolate milk chewed up roads, clawed out foundations, and poured through vacation homes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We saw the washer and drier come right through this wall and then get into the water as it surged up and then go down the street.

SAVIDGE: Galveston received only a glancing blow. But on the western side of the island, city officials say the damage is worse than expected. One resident likened it to a bomb going off.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The underside of the house is completely gone. Anything on the ground level, of course, is spread about all through the neighborhood.

SAVIDGE: For days, Claudette meandered in the Gulf of Mexico, keeping forecasters guessing, before finally coming ashore earlier than predicted between Galveston and Corpus Christi. The storm's winds, at times reaching over 100 miles an hour, sent the surf into the community of Surfside, while, offshore, the Coast Guard rescued two fishermen from their sinking fish boat called Waterworld.

Back in Galveston, the storm only added to the area's erosion problem, said to be among the worst in the nation. On average, the island loses five to six feet of beachfront a year. Claudette may have consumed that in one night. Here, the old joke that if you want beachfront property, just wait a while isn't as funny as it used to be.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SAVIDGE: We want to give you an update now as to where Tropical Storm Claudette is located. It's actually to the south-southwest of San Antonio, Texas.

Paula, this was the third named storm of the season. There are 11 more to go, if predictions are accurate -- Paula.

ZAHN: Yes, that's the kind of countdown we're really not looking forward to. Martin Savidge, thanks so much.

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