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 » 2006 Forecast  | Saffir-Simpson scale  |  Your stories

Relief pours in as Jeanne moves north

Millions of Florida customers have no power


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A look back: Four hurricanes slam Florida in the state's worst-ever storm season.

Scenes of Hurricane Jeanne pounding the Florida coast.

David Waters of Central Florida News 13 shows storm damage around Melbourne.
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TALLAHASSEE, Florida (CNN) -- Emergency officials in Florida shifted their focus from search and rescue to relief efforts Monday after Hurricane Jeanne cut a destructive path through the state.

Florida Secretary of Health John Agwunobi said trucks carrying water, ice and other essentials were making their way to areas hardest hit.

As of 5 p.m. ET, Jeanne had been downgraded to a tropical depression and its remnants were moving north-northeast through Georgia at about 13 mph with maximum sustained winds of 35 mph -- centered about 15 miles east-northeast of Macon.

At least six people died in Florida as a result of the storm, state law enforcement officials said, and about 2.6 million customers were without power, said Secretary of Environmental Protection Colleen Castille.

The storm made landfall late Saturday with 120 mph winds near the southern end of Hutchinson Island, five miles southeast of Stuart on Florida's east coast, near where Hurricane Frances came ashore September 5.

It collapsed beachfront homes and ripped off roofs on a barrier island near Vero Beach in Indian River County. Concrete utility polls snapped at their bases, leaving power lines in the streets.

In Melbourne, traffic was at a near standstill as residents who evacuated tried to return to their homes. City Manager Jack Schlukebier estimated that several hundred homes were damaged.

About 75 percent of Melbourne residents were without power; at least 2,500 people remained in shelters, local officials said.

Stuart Mayor Jeff Krauskopf said the biggest problem appeared to be roof damage.

"Frances took out all the vegetation. Then when Jeanne came through, it got most of the roofs. Commercial [buildings] have had their roofs ripped off and they are being saturated with water," Krauskopf said.

One of the major problems, Florida officials said, was flooding. Osceola County officials said they got 20 inches of rain as the storm passed, inundating areas that already were flooded from previous storms.

Jeanne was the fourth hurricane to hit Florida in the past six weeks.

"The resiliency of this state is awesome. While we're strained in terms of the resources of our state right now, we're unbowed," Gov. Jeb Bush told reporters during a visit to Pensacola, the Panhandle city that was hard hit by Hurricane Ivan nearly two weeks ago.

President Bush declared Florida a major disaster area, making way for additional federal aid to supplement the state's recovery efforts.

Risk Management Solutions, a catastrophe-modeling firm that works for the insurance industry, estimated Sunday that Jeanne could cause between $4 billion and $8 billion in insured losses in the United States. (Full story)

State of emergency

Jeanne was expected to turn to the northeast within 24 hours, the hurricane center said. Rainfall of 3 to 5 inches with isolated higher amounts can be expected along its path through Tuesday.

The center warned of possible tornadoes from extreme eastern Georgia northeast through the Carolinas.

Flood watches and warnings were in effect for portions of Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia.

Valdosta in southern Georgia reported more than 5 inches of rain Monday.

Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue declared a state of emergency. Schools systems from Savannah to Augusta and west to Macon canceled classes.

Thousands of airline passengers were stranded at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport because Florida airports were closed or traffic was backed up.

A group of nurses trying to travel home to the Tampa area was told they would probably be stuck in Atlanta for at least three days.

Deadly wind and rain

The Florida Highway Patrol said a man and woman from Boynton Beach drowned in a 40-foot-deep man-made lake in Deerfield Beach when their SUV left the Sawgrass Expressway and plunged into the water.

Lt. Pat Santangelo, a spokesman for the Florida Highway Patrol, said the accident occurred Saturday night as the area was buffeted by high winds and driving rain.

A tree along the St. Johns River fell late Sunday afternoon, killing a 15-year-old boy who was in his back yard with a friend, said Mary Justino, spokeswoman for the Clay County Sheriff's Department.

She said the other teen was hurt, but the injuries weren't life-threatening.

Elsewhere Sunday, a couple discovered a pickup in a deep drainage ditch in Palm Bay south of Melbourne, and its occupant had drowned, said police spokesman Barney Weiss. He said the man apparently drove into the flooded ditch by mistake.

In Miami, authorities said a man was electrocuted when he touched a downed power line, and in Brevard County, the sheriff's office said a 60-year-old man was found dead in his flooded home after a hurricane party.

Haiti death toll climbs

Jeanne now is blamed for 1,330 deaths in Haiti, and 1,056 people have been reported missing. Haitian officials said Monday that almost 300,000 people had homes damaged or destroyed in the storm, which swept across the country September 18.

Dieufort Deslorges, the head of the disaster relief section of the Haitian Department of Civil Protection, said 2,601 people were injured in the storm.


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