Tiring Floyd blows into New York

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The Independent Online
NEW YORK brushed itself down yesterday after Hurricane Floyd swept through, leaving it damp, a little battered but not much the worse for wear.

Floyd was downgraded to a mere tropical storm, and moved into Canada, where it was expected to peter out. Because it made a turn earlier in the week, the largest hurricane seen in the Atlantic for years never hit the United States with its full force.

President Bill Clinton announced some $500m (pounds 308m) in disaster aid for communities hit by Floyd in the country's south-east. Much of coastal North Carolina was still under water, and thousands of people were homeless. Seventeen people were killed in incidents linked to the storm, a fraction of those who would have died were it not for the massive evacuation of the east coast, which sent some three million people to shelter inland. As people streamed home in the south-east, many found that their homes had been burgled while they were away.

New York worked itself into a lather over Floyd, but there was little damage. The formal, open meeting of the United Nations Security Council was cancelled for the first time in recent history, and some homes were flooded as six inches of rain fell. But losses were far more severe in the Bahamas, which took the full force of the storm and where it will take weeks to clean up and repair.

Hurricane Gert, hundreds of miles out in the Atlantic, was unlikely to make landfall in the US, but it its track could take it towards Bermuda. Gert's winds of 140mph made it a category four storm, which could do very serious damage. The British island is the home of the reinsurance industry, so at least it should be financially prepared.