BLOOMSBURG, Pa. (AP) — Douglas Jumper chokedup as he described the long, slow recovery in his central Pennsylvania town from last year’s historic flooding caused by Hurricane Irene and the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee — and contemplated the possibility of yet more damage from an approaching storm.
“I’m tired. I am tired,” Jumper, who turned 58 on Saturday, said through tears. “We don’t need this again.”
Jumper’s town of Bloomsburg, and much of the Eastern Seaboard, was in the path of a rare behemoth storm barreling north from the Caribbean. Tropical Storm Sandy was expected to make landfall early Tuesday near the Delaware coast, then hit two winter weather systems as it moves inland, creating a hybrid monster storm that could bring nearly a foot of rain, high winds and up to 2 feet of snow.
Sandy, which the National Weather Service was calling a “very large tropical cyclone” early Saturday, killed more than 40 people in the Caribbean, wrecked homes and knocked down trees and power lines.
Early Saturday, the storm was about 155 miles (250 kilometers) north of Great Abaco Island in the Bahamas and 350 miles (565 kilometers) south-southeast of Charleston, S.C. Its sustained wind speed dropped below 70 mph (110 kph), which downgraded the storm from hurricane strength.
Up to 2 feet of snow was predicted to fall on West Virginia, with lighter snow in parts of Ohio and Pennsylvania. A wide swath of the East, measuring several hundreds of miles, will get persistent gale-force 50 mph winds, with some areas closer to storm landfall getting closer to 70 mph, said James Franklin, forecast chief for the National Hurricane Center in Miami.
“It’s going to be a long-lasting event, two to three days of impact for a lot of people,” Franklin said. “Wind damage, widespread power outages, heavy rainfall, inland flooding and somebody is going to get a significant surge event.”
Jeff Masters, meteorology director of the forecasting service Weather Underground, said this could be as big, perhaps bigger, than the worst East Coast storm on record, a 1938 New England hurricane that is sometimes known as the Long Island Express, which killed nearly 800 people.
Nonetheless, some residents were still shrugging off the impending storm.
On North Carolina’s Outer Banks, Marilyn McCluster made the four-hour drive from her home in Chase City, Va., to her family’s beach house in Nags Head anticipating a relaxing weekend by the shore.
“It’s just wind and rain; I’m hoping that’s it,” she said Friday as she filled her SUV at the Duck Thru, a gas station.