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FL sees flooding from tropical storm


With the now Hurricane Gabrielle back out at sea, Florida residents have had a chance to assess some of the damages from the tropical storm version that hit over the weekend. Gabrielle dumped more than 11 inches of rain in some parts of Florida, flooding homes but also relieving, at least partially, a drought that's hit the state.

According to the Florida Division of Emergency Management (DEM), the hardest hit counties are Manatee, Charlotte, and St. John's, which span across central Florida from the Gulf to the Atlantic Ocean. DEM spokesman Jim Loftus said there has been extensive flooding and that close to 8,000 people are still without power. Most of those folks should have power back on by Tuesday night or Wednesday morning. "We've sent out four teams to do assessments and we should have a better idea of damages later in the week," said Loftus.

Church World Service Disaster Response Specialist (DRS) Jody Hill has seen plenty of flooding along the rivers close to her in the Orlando area. She says they haven't heard much about the extent of damages because the local media is still focusing on the terrorist attacks that happened last week. She also attributed that lack of media coverage of the storm as one of the reasons that many folks did not have much notice before the storm hit last weekend.

"Every disaster has its uniqueness," said Hill. "This is ours. Most typically we say (to the media), 'Don't make this such a big deal,' but now we don't even know what the damages are."

Hill also thinks that an idea of the damages won't come until later this week, as some of the rivers are not expected to crest until Wednesday. "Now it's wait and see," she said. "I know there are some houses with a lot of water in them, and I know that there are some folks already saying that they didn't have any flood insurance." She said she's already been contacting the local Salvation Army with information about areas that will need the most assistance.

A tornado also touched down in Breward County early Friday morning, which damaged some mobile homes and a marina. The Rev. Maurice Sikes, associate pastor at the nearby Covenant Presbyterian Church, said the damages weren't very extensive from the tornado, compared to what else has been happening in the past week. "The cleanup of things (from the tornado) got wrapped up pretty quick," said Sikes. "And this is almost like a blip on the screen compared to the rest. The flooding in our area (of Palm Bay) also seems quite minor."

Sikes said he and his congregation have been much more affected by the tragedies in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania, but that they're also looking into doing some work trips to the areas affected most by the storm.

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