Deadly Fay impacts thousands

Sandbags help some but many people said to be in need following catastrophic flooding


"There are a lot of people in need, especially in Brevard County"

—Rev. Karen Thompson, the United Church of Christ

A look at the Safirr-Simpson scale might lead people in the future to believe that Tropical Storm Fay was a minor storm. But after the storm inched its way back and forth across the state, making landfall in Florida a record four times, there were at least 13 deaths and more than 1,000 homes damaged.

By Sunday night, remnants of the storm was still causing headaches for residents in the Florida Panhandle and in Tallahassee where some residents were being evacuated by boats.

"Even in Seminole County, where the damage was light compared to other parts of the county, there were many people who were put out of their homes by the rains," said the Rev. David Knox of Christ Episcopal Church in Longwood.

He said parishioners from his church who live in some low-lying parts of nearby Altamonte Springs were spared heavy damage to their homes because they were able to get sandbags from the city to keep out the cascading waters. Many others across the state weren't quite so lucky.

Dan Turner of Sanford lives a few blocks from Lake Monroe, a wide section of the St. Johns River that runs through his city. The water rushed over the seawall along a portion of the city's Riverwalk as the rain poured about 15 inches of rain on the city. It filled the streets in his neighborhood of historic homes built in the early 1900s.

"We were very lucky here," he said. "It never came into our houses because they are built up off the ground. My sister lives in Casselberry in a house built in the 50s and she has two or three inches of water in her front room."

The Rev. Karen Thompson of the United Church of Christ serves as a member of the Florida VOAD (Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster). She said she has had a chance to look at the overall picture of damage in the state from that position and as the associate minister for disaster recovery and response for her church's statewide organization.

"There are a lot of people in need, especially in Brevard County," she said.

The UCC, the Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church and several other organizations are working to ensure the clean up kits they need to help survivors get their homes back in order are ready to go. The Red Cross has opened (and, in some cases, closed) shelters around the state to give temporary relief to those who were put out of their homes. Most of the thousands who were displaced have gone to stay with family and friends.

Daryl Permenter, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Geneva, a rural town between Seminole and Volusia counties in Central Florida, said his church operated a shelter for the community for a short time because many of the homes in the area were inundated with water as the rains fell. As the precipitation diminished, residents returned to their homes. He said his church will organize some clean ups to help those with damage to their homes.

In all, even after the storm is gone from the state, there are still 90,000 without power; some 13,000 of those in Leon County, around the state capitol of Tallahassee.

Most of Florida's 63 counties had at least a passing meeting with Fay.

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