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Workers Aid Florida Hurricane Victims

Home-to-home search and rescue efforts concluded in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties, where crews had combed through residential structures ranging from washed-out single-family homes to high-rise condominiums.

From a Coast Guard boat in the Little Sabine inlet, the shores of Pensacola Beach bore little resemblance to the vacation destination it once was. Dozens of homes and condos were demolished. The roof of the Holiday Inn was smashed in, while two giant holes were torn in the side of the Dunes hotel. A swath of once-pristine white sand had swept ashore along the south side of the inlet, piled almost two stories high next to some condominiums.

"One of our police officers who was over in Iraq says this is worse than that because when they drop bombs they are more directed and you have a little pile of rubble," said Pensacola City Manager Tom Bonfield. "This is just so many miles of it, you just can't believe it."

Still, some progress toward recovery was being made.

Gulf Power Co. had restored power to 30 percent of its customers in the Panhandle as of Sunday, leaving nearly 253,000 homes and businesses still without power, most in Escambia County.

While most residents remained without power, they got a small reprieve: temperatures reached only the mid-80s during the day and were forecast to cool off at night to the 60s, with no rain in the immediate future.

And, for a state where no part has been untouched by a hurricane this season, some good news emerged Sunday.

Tropical Storm Jeanne turned into the open sea, making it likely to spare the southeastern United States. Flooding from the storm already has been devastating in the Caribbean, however: Jeanne killed at least 50 people in Haiti, seven in neighboring Dominican Republic and two in Puerto Rico.

Another hurricane, Karl, gained strength but was far out in the Atlantic on a course that will keep it there, a threat only to shipping.

The hurricane season ends Nov. 30.

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© 2004 The Associated Press