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Coastal areas clean up

BY RACHEL CLARK | MOBILE, Ala. | September 27, 2002

"A lot of people are affected."

—Gene Slusher, Salvation Army

Tropical Storm Isidore dumped a deluge of rain on coastal areas of Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana Thursday. By Friday morning, disaster response groups were starting to clean up.

"A lot of people are affected," said Col. Gene Slusher, disaster services coordinator for the Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi division of The Salvation Army.

In southwest Alabama, Isidore caused about a half million gallons of sewage to flow from waste systems overwhelmed by the flooding in the Mobile area. About 380 people sought safety in American Red Cross shelters, and power was out for thousands of residents.

"There were certain neighborhoods affected by the water surge that came in from the Gulf," said Slusher. "This has happened before, but not to the magnitude that has been going on because Isidore was around for several days."

Salvation Army canteens and the state emergency operations center had been closed down Friday morning, but Slusher said special cleanup kits were available to families who requested them.

"We're now in recovery mode," he said, "serving those families who have been affected. They'll be coming to us to get furniture that was lost, and cleaning supplies."

In Mississippi, Isidore dumped somewhere between 5 and 10 inches on coastal areas. Friday morning, the state's emergency management agency was assessing the damage.

"Isidore brought a large influx of water," Slusher said. "The damage has been done in a lot of areas."

In Hattiesburgh, Miss., The Salvation Army sheltered and provided meals for more than 400 Gulf Coast residents, and in Gulfport, they have assisted more than 700 people. Canteens were driving through neighborhoods, providing meals and offered additional aid in surrounding counties.

Slusher said the storm could have been a lot worse.

"Had it hit with some force like it did Cuba and Mexico, it would have done a lot of damage," he said. "But we just got a tropical storm."

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