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Archive for Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Floridians recovering from fourth hurricane

Bush seeks $7.1B in aid

September 28, 2004

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— People lined up for more than a half-mile for food and water, while others searched in vain for generators in the sweltering heat Monday as Florida residents began cleaning up all over again, demoralized by the fourth hurricane in six weeks to batter the state.

Hurricane Jeanne, with slashing winds reaching 120 mph, claimed at least six lives in Florida over the weekend as it plowed through virtually the same area that was bashed by Hurricane Frances earlier this month.

Together, Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne have generated the biggest relief effort ever undertaken by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

"I've stopped trying to assess which storm is worse than the other," said Gov. Jeb Bush. "They are all powerful, they all wreaked havoc in our state, and they all stink. They are all past the threshold of bad."

Florida is the first state to get pounded by four hurricanes in one season since Texas in 1886. Two months remain in the 2004 hurricane season.

President Bush on Monday asked Congress for more than $7.1 billion to help Florida and other Southeastern states recover.

The unprecedented relief effort includes more than 5,000 FEMA workers spread over 15 states. Nearly 3,800 National Guardsmen were providing security, directing traffic and distributing aid.

In Florida alone, relief workers have handed out at least 16 million meals, 9 million gallons of water and nearly 59 million pounds of ice over the course of the four storms, state officials said.

But for some, it was not being distributed fast enough.

"This is just too much. This is just unbelievable," said Gladys Caldwell, who knew just how long she had waited for water and ice at a Fort Pierce distribution station -- "two hours and 18 minutes."

In Georgia, the storm's remnants toppled trees, washed out dozens of roads and left more than 76,000 residents without power at its height.

Tornadoes spawned by the storm also destroyed buildings in South Carolina, and in North Carolina, a windstorm in Southern Pines damaged more than 100 buildings, according to the Moore County Sheriff's Department.

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