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FL Panhandle hard hit

Several faith-based groups are moving quickly into the hardest hit areas to offer immediate relief.

BY HEATHER MOYER | PENSACOLA, Fla. | September 16, 2004

With Hurricane Ivan done pounding the Alabama coast and the Florida panhandle, several faith-based groups are moving quickly into the hardest hit areas to offer immediate relief.

According to John Edwards, a Salvation Army public information officer, the current areas of greatest need are Alabama's Baldwin County and Florida's Escambia County - both of which took the brunt of Ivan as it came ashore early this morning.

In Ft. Walton Beach and Panama City, Fla., three confirmed tornadoes killed several people Wednesday.

Edwards said some Salvation Army feeding units would be supplied and staffed by Southern Baptist Disaster Relief crews.

"Beyond this, there is great concern about inland flooding in the mountains of western North Carolina, in eastern Tennessee, and in West Virginia - all of which are subject to common flooding," he noted. "We're expecting seven to ten inches of rain in West Virginia alone."

Some faith-based response teams from Maryland, West Virginia, and Virginia that had previously been assisting with hurricane relief in Florida have been called back to their home states in advance of possible flooding there. Some crews from North Carolina were also told to stay behind as well, still helping people who experienced flooding last week from Hurricane Frances.

Echoing other faith-based responders, Edwards added there would be a strain on financial resources.

"The reality check is that we're not even in the crunch-time of hurricane season," he said. "We're to the 'J' storm already and it's not even October."

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