Ernesto Toll in Virginia: 6 Deaths, $33 Million Damages

September 5, 2006

Death toll at six; preliminary damage estimate $33 million
Received by Newsfinder from AP
Sep 3, 2006 19:16 Eastern Time

Associated Press Writer

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Tropical Depression Ernesto caused at least six deaths and an estimated $33 million in damages in Virginia, state officials said Sunday.

The death toll grew with Saturday’s discovery of the body of a Newport News woman who died of carbon monoxide poisoning from a portable generator, state Department of Emergency Management spokesman Marc LaFountain said.

LaFountain said the woman, whose name was not immediately available, hooked up the generator in her garage after losing electrical power during the storm. He said an open garage window did not provide adequate ventilation.

“This, sadly is something we often see after tropical storms,” LaFountain said. “These generators generate enormous amounts of carbon monoxide, and it’s important they be run outside.”

Three people died in unrelated car crashes attributed to the storm, and a Gloucester couple were killed after a massive tree crushed their modular home.

Northumberland County was hammered by an unexpectedly brutal storm surge. LaFountain said preliminary damage estimates from Northumberland County are $16 million _ nearly half the statewide total.

LaFountain, who emphasized that final damage figures could change significantly, said preliminary reports from localities put the damage estimates at $24 million for homes, $3 million for businesses and $5 million for public facilities, including roads and government buildings. Northumberland reported $860,000 in agricultural damage.

In contrast, Hurricane Isabel three years ago caused $1.6 billion in damage and 33 deaths and left about 1.8 million power customers without service, some for up to two weeks.

Dominion Virginia Power, the state’s largest utility, reported about 39,000 customers still without power Sunday evening. More than 600,000 customers were affected by the storm, the company said.

All primary and interstate highways were clear Sunday, but the Virginia Department of Transportation reported 43 secondary roads were still blocked by downed trees or power lines or were washed out by floodwaters

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