East Coast may be spared hit from Hurricane Danielle
Post-Bonnie cleanup continues in Virginia, North Carolina
Web posted at: 10:49 p.m. EDT (0249 GMT)
(CNN) -- The East Coast of the United States may be spared a direct hit by Hurricane Danielle, while the cleanup of damage from this week's Hurricane Bonnie continues.
As of 5 p.m. EDT Saturday, Danielle, the fourth storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, was reported about 550 miles east-northeast of San Salvador in the Bahamas. Winds had weakened slightly but were still about 80 miles per hour.
The good news from forecasters is that Danielle is expected to shift to a more north-northwest track about noon Sunday. That would keep it over open water, and the storm would pass between Bermuda and the East Coast, hitting neither.
Meanwhile, Bonnie, now diminished into a tropical storm with winds of just 50 mph, continues to head out into the Atlantic. As of 5 p.m. EDT, it was 225 miles west-southwest of Sable Island, Nova Scotia, headed north-northeast at 28 mph.
Bonnie was expected to take a more easterly track and pick up speed by midday Sunday.
Virginia Beach damage: $13.3 million
In Virginia, Bonnie's wrath brought down trees, peeled roofs off buildings and tore boats from their moorings. Residents and officials were taken by surprise when Bonnie unexpectedly regained hurricane strength and parked on the Virginia shore for hours Friday.
At one point, 300,000 Virginia Power customers were without electricity. The initial damage assessment in Virginia Beach alone was $13.3 million.
"Who would have expected it to intensify into a hurricane?" asked Mark C. Marchbank, deputy coordinator for emergency management for the resort city. "We expected a tropical storm with wind. To find we actually had a hurricane was a strange phenomenon."
In Sandbridge, an isolated ocean-front community five miles south of the resort strip, Bonnie took the roofs off about 10 houses and buried streets and a municipal parking lot in sand from the beach.
"It was like an earthquake. Everything was shaking in the house," said 8-year-old Lindsey Gosse of Allentown, Pennsylvania, whose family was renting a vacation house on stilts.
North Carolina residents clean up
As the weekend progressed, North Carolina residents assessed the harm caused by two days of Bonnie's 115 mph winds and lashing rains. The damage estimate is $1 billion to $2 billion, officials said.
Most of eastern North Carolina's crop of tobacco, sweet potatoes and peanuts seemed to have survived the brunt of Bonnie's blast without major problems.
Still, for tobacco farmer Don Sweeting, Bonnie seemed like a milder -- but no less discouraging -- rerun of Hurricanes Fran and Bertha in 1996. Fran plowed through the middle of the state and caused $5.2 billion in damage and 24 deaths.
"Here we go again," Sweeting said Friday as he gloomily scanned his 53 acres of withered, wind-beaten tobacco in eastern Onslow County. "We just had this two years ago. So it's been tough."
Pastor Don Horn was counting his blessings. Bonnie only blew a gable off his Surf City Church.
"Fran was a big, terrible bulldog compared to what Bonnie is," Horn said, his feet squishing in the soggy carpet behind the last row of pews. "Bonnie was just like a little kitty cat."
The storm reportedly caused two deaths. A 12-year-old North Carolina girl was killed when a tree fell on her house, and a 50-year-old man in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, was electrocuted while checking his generator after his apartment lost power.
Correspondent Charles Zewe and Reuters contributed to this report.
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