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Hurricane damage tallied

Some long lines are disappearing, but Florida residents are still seeking relief supplies and assessing damages from Hurricane Wilma.

BY HEATHER MOYER | MIAMI, Fla. | October 29, 2005

Some long lines are disappearing, but Florida residents are still seeking relief supplies and assessing damages from Hurricane Wilma.

Ten deaths are now attributed to Hurricane Wilma, which came ashore in southwest Florida as a Category 3 storm Monday.

Officials from the Insurance Disaster Assessment Team (IDAT) flew over areas affected by Wilma and said damage appeared to be the worst in the Broward County cities of Margate, Coconut Creek, North Lauderdale, Sunrise, Plantation and Davie. IDAT said that approximately 70 to 80% of the homes and businesses there had some damage.

As in Broward County, IDAT officials said the damage in Miami-Dade County seemed to be mostly in the western part of the county. Miami-Dade County emergency response officials said they have received more than 3,000 calls so far for roofing assistance. Hard hit communities tended to be the older communities, including West Kendall, Westchester and Vanderbilt Park.

Members of the Florida Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (FLVOAD) continued their relief work and their own assessments Thursday. Some agencies, like Neighbors 4 Neighbors, are operating sites where relief supplies are being distributed. Others, like Lutheran Disaster Response and the United Methodist Committee on Relief, are checking on churches that suffered damage when Wilma came onshore as a Category 3 storm.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Disaster Recovery Centers are open across the affected counties now. FEMA already declared the counties of Collier, Lee, Monroe, Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach eligible for individual assistance.

According to the Florida State Emergency Response Team (SERT), electricity is coming on in about 20% of the impacted areas. More than 2.2 million residents are estimated to still be without power. SERT said the power restoration priorities are health care facilities, government operations and schools.

Residents are also waiting in long lines for fuel. Florida Turnpike officials said late Wednesday that gas along the turnpike - which runs south from Miami - is being rationed. The public is only being allowed $20 worth of gas per vehicle.

SERT reported that the agricultural impact of Wilma is serious as well, having damaged many avocado and other winter crops.

Other counties affected by Wilma include Brevard, Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Indian River, Lee, Martin, Monroe, Okeechobee, Osceola, Palm Beach, Polk, St. Lucie and Sarasota.

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