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Bermuda Cleans Up In Fabian's Wake

Car passes below electricity pole downed by Fabian's gusting windsrricane Fabian in Devonshire, Bermuda, Saturday, Sept. 6, 2003. The most powerful hurricane to hit Bermuda in 50 years roared into the British territory the day before, leaving four missing and 25,000 homes without power.
AP
Remnants of trees and rooftops blanketed flooded roads and hotel grounds Saturday after the most powerful hurricane to hit Bermuda in 50 years gave the wealthy British territory a solid licking.

Fabian unleashed deadly 120 mph winds when it struck Bermuda on Friday afternoon. By Saturday, the dark clouds lifted and the reality of the devastation set in.

Four remained missing and 26,000 homes were without power.

"We have experienced a considerable beating," said John Burchall, a spokesman for the Bermuda government. Damage estimates could take days.

Search crews were looking for two police officers and two civilians whose vehicles were swept from a causeway into whitecapped waters Friday.

Divers recovered the two vehicles but no bodies. Visibility was still poor Saturday and hampering the search.

Dozens of people remained in five shelters and others were staying at hotels because of damage to their homes. Hospitals had power and many hotels were running on generators.

"The major structural damage is to roofs of homes," said Dwayne Caines, police spokesman. "We've gotten lots of reports of slate that covers many roofs blowing away. We've had minor structural damage from debris such as broken windows and downed power lines."

Premier Alex Scott toured damaged areas on Saturday.

"I am so very glad I am a Bermudian because I know what is going to happen next," Scott said. "We are going to come together like we always do. The world will watch us and learn about real community."

Stories of perseverance continued pouring in while officials reported only minor injuries to at least 10 people.

Three mariners survived tornadoes and 20-foot swells after spending 10 hours at sea during the worst of the storm.

Jay Simmons' 46-foot boat broke its moorings at central Spanish Point at noon Friday, but he wouldn't let the new $200,000 boat go down without a fight.

Simmons, 44, enlisted his brother Vaughan Simmons, 46, and Brendan Robinson, 48, to help save the vessel which they reached by punt, although Robinson found himself swept overboard in choppy seas.

"My life flashed before my eyes a few times," he said. "I don't think I have ever seen anything like this and I don't think I will again. We are lucky to be alive."

The boat, which drifted out to sea, had sustained only minimal damage when it limped into Hamilton harbor late Friday.

Meanwhile, many of the vacation spot's golf courses were in ruins. Hotels — small and large — suffered devastation with suites destroyed, roofs ripped off and beach-side bars and restaurants in the south reduced to rubble.

The 593-room Fairmont Southampton will be closed for the next two weeks, hotel officials said. Gusts ripped through deluxe suites and extensively damaged the roof, spa, indoor pool, windows and golf course.

About 1,000 guests were at the hotel during the hurricane. Officials were trying to find accommodations for them at other hotels.

A Toronto tourist, visiting with six relatives including a 7-month-old baby, called the experience at the Fairmont terrifying.

"We had flooding all through the night," said Sonia Wachsberg, who decided to stay in their room instead of sleeping in the ballroom. "Water was coming through the ceiling and the spotlights."

Roofs ripped off from about 30 buildings at Ariel Sands hotel — partly owned by film star Michael Douglas — and umbrellas scattered around the property.

The pool looked like a swamp and the outside bar was completely wrecked, although the statue of Shakespeare's Ariel survived.

Hundreds of roofs were reported off in St. George's. One resident prayed to a higher power when hers peeled off during the storm.

Nea-Cherri Talbot, who lives above a bar, said she screamed: "'Jesus, Jesus, Jesus' and then we hunkered down."

Fabian's lashing winds shattered part of the airport causeway's wall.

The airport would be open to private jets Saturday as the runway was now clear but no scheduled flights would arrive, officials said. A decision was to be made later Saturday about whether to reopen Sunday.

There were reports of widespread flooding, and unconfirmed reports of looting. Roofs on the four main police stations were also damaged.

Fabian tested Bermuda's vaunted ability to withstand a fierce storm. The island chain of 62,000 people requires newly built houses to withstand sustained winds of 110 mph. Bermuda has many underground power and phone lines.

Late Saturday afternoon, Fabian was about 715 miles south-southwest of Newfoundland.

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Isabel had formed and was about 725 miles west of the Cape Verde Islands.

Its maximum sustained winds strengthened to 50 mph Saturday afternoon and were expected to intensify further as Isabel moved west at about 12 mph.