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LA assesses damage


"The damage level from the winds between a category four hurricane and a category one storm is like night and day."

—Mark Price, Salvation Army

Louisiana's collective sigh of relief over a weakened Lili isn't quite loud enough to hide the damage the storm still caused.

An 8-foot wall of water surged into Pointe Aux Chenes, inundating many homes in that area. Levees failed in Montegut and Franklin, where floodwaters threatened hundreds of homes.

Montegut officials estimated Friday that about 75 percent of the town sustained flood damage. Montegut, home to some 4,000 people, is about 40 miles southwest of New Orleans.

Most of Grand Isle, a barrier island south of New Orleans, was still underwater Friday. New Iberia -- about 140 miles west of New Orleans -- was also hard hit.

Residents of rural coastal Vermillion Parish were warned they could be without power for two weeks. Sugar cane growers, who estimated a 10 percent loss from Isidore, said they will probably see more losses.

President Bush has declared Louisiana a federal disaster area.

At the same time, forecasters are scratching their heads as to why Lili fizzled so fast, and residents are widely acknowledging it could have been much, much worse.

Lili was a crushing category four hurricane Wednesday night but had inexplicably weakened by the time it made landfall.

"The damage level from the winds between a category four hurricane and a category one storm is like night and day," said Capt. Mark Price of The Salvation Army in Louisiana.

By Friday responders were providing storm survivors supplies to clean up water-logged homes.

"Those things you never think of, those are the things people need," said Lesli Remaly, disaster response and recovery liaison with Church World Service (CWS).

Many disaster-relief groups -- including CWS -- prepare cleanup kits to distribute in the event of a disaster.

Mary Sutton, chairperson of the Louisiana Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, said that many organizations provide or distribute cleanup kits. She said the donation of cleaning supplies means a lot to people trying to restore their homes.

"It's not necessarily going to clean up the whole house, but there's a symbolism there that somebody cares about what happened to them and is trying to give them the tools to take back some of the control they lost when water destroyed their home," she said.

The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) also pulls together cleanup resources to help people begin to clean up their homes after a hurricane or flood. Inside a 5-gallon UMCOR bucket is: bleach, scouring pads, a scrub brush, cleaning towels, sponges, laundry detergent, household cleaner, disinfectant, clothes pins, a clothesline, dust masks, latex and work gloves, trash bags, insect repellant and air freshener. All items are sealed in the bucket.

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