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FL flooding: A river runs through it

River front properties become river properties as Florida reels from 10,000 flood-damaged homes -- half may be uninsured

BY VICKI DESORMIER | GENEVA, FL | September 6, 2008

When Carolyn Wisdom bought her home near the St. Johns River she never dreamed the river would one day swirl into her home.

"We have water coming up into the house from the river and from the road," said Wisdom. Her house usually sits 10 feet above the St. Johns River near Lake Harney in eastern Seminole County.

But it could be worse.

The river now runs right through a neighbor's house, she explained. That family is living on the second floor of the home and leaves by canoe when they have to go out. Their truck is parked several blocks away from the flooding.

Both homes are among the more than 10,000 homes flooded following Tropical Storm Fay three weeks ago. Less than half of the homeowners are thought to have adequate insurance to cope with the damage.

The seemingly never-ending series of tropical storms continue to plague Florida residents already reeling from record flooding.

When Tropical Storm Hanna came ashore early Saturday morning near the North Carolina South Carolina border, the storm dropped several more inches of rain in northern Florida Friday.

With the new rain, the St. Johns River, which cuts a 310 mile path through the center of the state with headwaters in southern Brevard County, will probably not crest this weekend as was predicted.

Fast moving rainstorms associated with Tropical Storm Hanna added more water to the already swollen river and its tributaries. The crest will probably come at the beginning of the week.

A great number of those uninsured or underinsured homes are in Lee County. Volunteer organizations are focusing much of their attention there.

Paul Morrison of the American Red Cross said their first priority is the shelter for victims of Fay in Lee County in southwest Florida. There are now 500 people many of them migrant families still being housed at that shelter. The Rev. Marcus Hepburn, a director of Catholic Charities and chair of the Florida VOAD, said his organization is planning to do crisis counseling in Lee County.

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance reported it is is working in St. Lucie County to clean up flooded homes. They have a home to house volunteers who are willing to go to the area to do the work.

Cicero Hartsfield of Volunteer Florida said flood buckets are still needed for many whose homes were damaged by the flooding caused by Fay. In the area of DeBary in Volusia County there is a need for both more buckets and more volunteers to help with the clean up.

The Salvation Army is still providing meals in Brevard, said Army coordinator Garvil Wike.

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