- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 6, 2003

HAMILTON, Bermuda — The dark clouds of Fabian lifted yesterday, revealing the devastation wrought by the most powerful hurricane to hit Bermuda in 50 years: pulverized trees, shorn rooftops and tens of thousands of homes without power.

Four people were missing from the storm, which unleashed 120 mph winds when it slammed into the British territory Friday afternoon.

“We have experienced a considerable beating,” said John Burchall, a spokesman for the Bermuda government. Damage estimates were expected to take days.

Divers were looking for the missing — two police officers and two civilians — whose vehicles were swept off a causeway Friday, but poor visibility was hampering the search.

Nine people sought medical attention yesterday for minor injuries, according to Valerie Pethen, another government spokeswoman. Most roads to hospitals had been cleared.

Power was still out in 26,000 homes because debris was blocking repair crews. Dozens of people remained in five shelters, and others were staying at hotels because of damage to their homes. Hospitals had power but many hotels were running on generators.

Hurricane Fabian’s lashing winds shattered part of a wall in the airport causeway. Officials said it was unlikely the airport would reopen yesterday.

There were reports of widespread flooding, and unconfirmed reports of looting. Many of Bermuda’s famed golf courses were in ruins.

Prime Minister Alex Scott toured damaged areas yesterday.

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

Dwayne Caines, a police spokesman, said the hurricane did major damage to the roofs of many homes.

At 11 a.m. yesterday, Fabian was about 835 miles southwest of Newfoundland. Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Isabel had formed about 660 miles west of the Cape Verde Islands.

Isabel, the ninth named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, had maximum sustained winds of 40 mph yesterday morning and was expected to strengthen as it moved west at about 14 mph.

Fabian tested Bermuda’s vaunted ability to withstand a fierce storm. The wealthy British territory requires newly built houses to withstand sustained winds of 110 mph. It also has a sturdy infrastructure with many of its power and phone lines underground.

Bermuda had not seen a Category 3 hurricane like Fabian since 1953 when Edna ravaged the island chain with its 115 mph winds.

Many tourists who decided to wait out the storm watched Fabian roll into the harbors Friday from their rattling hotel windows.

“It’s terrific to watch, but it’s still intimidating,” said Susan Chandler, 52, a New Yorker on vacation.

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