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Emily Forces Schools in 4 N.C. Counties To Close

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The school year opened in coastal North Carolina last week with a hands-on lesson in meteorology as Hurricane Emily, packing winds of up to 115 miles per hour, glanced off the seaboard before veering back into the Atlantic.

Although storm-related property damage was far lighter than expected, Emily left the only public school on Hatteras Island "a mess,'' in the words of one official.

"The water is waist-high,'' said Gene Galleli, the assistant superintendent of schools in Dare County, of the 500-student, K-12 school in Buxton. "Now the problem is getting our staff back and getting our kids back.''

Due to the condition of school property, flooding and structural damage to hundreds of homes and businesses, and the lack of running water and electricity on some islands of North Carolina's Outer Banks, the county's 3,600 students were not expected to return to classes--which began the day before the storm hit--until sometime this week.

Schools in four neighboring counties also were closed for several days last week, in some cases to make sure that the only two routes off the islands were clear, said Skip Sanders, the director of facilities for the Currituck County schools.

Virginia District Spared

At one point the storm seemed to be heading straight for Virginia Beach, Va., which with 74,000 students is home to one of the state's largest school districts. But according to Andrew Carrington, the district's assistant superintendent, Emily brought only moderate rain and winds, and schools there are scheduled to open on time this week.

In both states, officials said, youngsters ignored police warnings to avoid the rough surf at beaches near Emily's path.

A 15-year-old from Chesapeake, Va., disappeared and is presumed to have drowned after he and his friends went swimming in stormy waters off Virginia Beach.

At popular surfing spots on Hatteras, youngsters were still riding waves up to two hours before gale-force winds began to blow, said Mr. Gallelli.

Vacationers and residents in Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, and New York also were asked to evacuate a few coastal resorts as Emily cut a northeast path later in the week. But little or no damage was reported in those states.

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