A Fairly Docile Humberto Washes Out To Sea

Utility crews restored electricity to half of the homes and businesses left without power after Hurricane Humberto, while experts estimated total damages from the storm would cost less than $500 million.

Humberto, the first hurricane to hit the U.S. in two years, continued to lose strength Friday as its remnants moved through Mississippi in the South to the East Coast. The storm made landfall Thursday in Texas and then pushed across Louisiana toward other southern states.

The storm left as many as 120,000 Texas and Louisiana homes and businesses without power. While many would be restored by the weekend, some could be without power until Tuesday, said Joe Domino, Entergy Texas president and chief executive officer.

At High Island, the coastal town of 500 where the center of Humberto made landfall, many customers, including the local water utility, had generators for essential needs and kept fresh water flowing from taps.

The remnants of Humberto were located in northwestern Georgia Friday afternoon and moving northeast, according to the National Weather Service. Maximum sustained winds were only 15 mph and an inch or two of rain was likely.

In North Carolina, the remnants of the storm collided with a cold front, leading to wind and heavy rain and even sightings of funnel clouds. There were dozens of power outages and traffic accidents, and a nursing home in Fuquay-Varina, near Raleigh, was being evacuated because a tree fell on the building.

For the most part the state was grateful for the moisture as North Carolina's latest drought report shows 98 of the state's 100 counties are experiencing severe, extreme or exceptional drought conditions.

Dale Crisp, director of Raleigh's Public Utilities Department told CBS Affiliate WRAL that storm rains had raised the level of the Falls Lake Reservoir about 2 inches, which he called "a good start. Obviously, we hope it continues," he said.

Humberto's path into Texas was close to the one taken two years ago by Hurricane Rita. Damages, however, were expected to be considerably less because Humberto was relatively small and made landfall in a sparsely populated area.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry declared three counties - Orange, Jefferson and Galveston - disaster areas, making them eligible for financial assistance. State military forces were brought in to help provide water, ice and equipment to aid in the cleanup.

Damage from the storm was likely to cost less than $500 million, Risk Management Solutions, a California-based firm that quantifies catastrophe risks for insurance companies, said. The dollar figure included physical damages to homes and businesses, and business losses due to interruptions because of power outages and damages.

The one death attributed to the storm occurred early Thursday in Bridge City, when 80-year-old John Simon was killed as his backyard patio collapsed on him in the high winds, Maj. Joey Hargrave of the Bridge City police said.

In Port Arthur, two of three major crude oil and liquid hydrocarbons plants idled because of power problems had power restored. Refineries for Valero Energy Corp. and Total Petrochemicals USA Inc. were in the process of being restarted, company spokesmen said. Shell Oil Co. said its Motiva Port Arthur Refinery had some power restored but remained down as assessments continued.

Humberto developed into a hurricane with 85 mph winds in just 18 hours. Only three other storms have pulled off a similar feat, growing from depression to hurricane in 18 hours - Blanche in 1969, Harvey in 1981 and Alberto in 1982 - but none of them was about to make landfall.

Far off in the open ocean, Tropical Storm Ingrid, the ninth named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, was about 575 miles east of the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean early Saturday morning and moving toward the west-northwest near 10 mph.

"Tropical Storm Ingrid is of no concern and may actually weaken during the next day or two, as it wanders way out in the central Atlantic far from any land," says CBS News meteorologist George Cullen.

The National Hurricane Center said Ingrid was barely a tropical storm and little change in strength was forecast during the next 24 hours. Maximum sustained winds were near 40 mph with higher gusts.
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