Storm relief offered

While relief groups continued to fan out across Alabama and Florida on Tuesday, the Ohio River Valley faced serious flood threats as the remnants of Hurricane Dennis could dump 10 inches of rain.

BY SUSAN KIM | BALTIMORE | July 12, 2005


Nechama volunteers clean up a flood-damaged home. (DNN photo by Heather Moyer)
Credit: Disaster News Network

While relief groups continued to fan out across Alabama and Florida on Tuesday, the Ohio River Valley faced serious flood threats as the remnants of Hurricane Dennis could dump 10 inches of rain.

On Tuesday rain was falling across Missouri and Illinois.

Southern inland communities had flood damage as well. Dozens of people were forced to evacuate in the heart of Georgia, when Austell and west Atlanta received nearly 10 inches of rain. Flood damage assessments were still in process on Tuesday morning.

The Category 3 hurricane left five dead in Georgia and Florida. Dennis made landfall very close to where Hurricane Ivan slammed ashore last year, near Pensacola and the Alabama-Florida border.

Hundreds of thousands of people were without power on Tuesday morning, and many of them won’t get juice back for three weeks or more.

Some faith-based and voluntary groups were involved with immediate response while others were focused on long-term recovery that has continued since last year’s hurricane season.

More than 200 Salvation Army personnel and volunteers were in place in Alabama, the Florida Keys, and the Florida Panhandle. The Salvation Army deployed 35 mobile canteens able to serve more than 87,000 hot meals this week.

Dennis was smaller and faster-moving than Ivan, which may have decreased damage overall. But at least some communities were hit harder than they were during Ivan, according to some early on-the-ground assessments.

Clergy and relief workers reported there was a lot of debris as well as extensive damage to businesses in the inland town of Atmore, Ala., along with several other small Alabama communities. Atmore sustained more damage from Hurricane Dennis than from Hurricane Ivan last year. Local clergy and community groups were working well together to meet people's needs, said national disaster response representatives.

There was significant damage in the Florida communities of Gulf Breeze, Pensacola Beach and Navarre Beach. All those communities were hit hard by Ivan last year.

As the remnants moved eastward, states in the path could see three to six inches of rain, with 12 inches possible in some isolated areas.

Agriculture officials in the Midwest expressed concern that the storm could have spread soybean rust, a fungus that destroys soy bean crops. When Dennis made landfall Sunday, the storm hit an area of southwestern Alabama where soybeans are infected with the fungus.

Agriculture officials told farmer to watch for signs that soybean rust - which appears as pustules on the leaves of soybean plants - has spread. Heat and humidity cause it to develop more rapidly.

Path of destruction in Cuba, Haiti

Before making landfall in the U.S., Hurricane Dennis left a trail of destruction in Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica. Thousands of people are homeless and there was massive flooding, reported relief groups on the ground.

Hardest hit were Cuba and Haiti.

In Cuba, where the storm made landfall on Saturday, at least 10 people are dead. Early reports from relief groups indicate thousands of homes were destroyed, and crop damage is extensive.

The central provinces of Cienfuegos, Sancti Spiritu, Villa Clara, Matanzas and eastern Havana as well as the eastern provinces of Santiago and Granma bore the brunt of Dennis.

In Havana, 1,828 homes were severely damaged and 30 others were destroyed in the eastern part of the city.

Catholic Relief Services/Cuba is among the faith-based groups bringing relief to storm-stricken Cubans. CRS/Cuba is working closely with Caritas Cuba, the social service agency of the Catholic Church in Cuba, and the Archdiocese of Miami to provide help. Additional needs assessments will be conducted in the coming days, CRS indicated.

In Haiti, 29 deaths have been reported, and numerous people are still missing.  The storm destroyed or severely damaged over 100 homes.

Many faith-based groups have a long history of working in Haiti. In the wake of Hurricane Dennis, some are working in close collaboration with the United Nations peacekeeping troops in Haiti and with Water for Life, an non-governmental organization involved in water projects.


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