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Fla. Residents Assess Hurricanes' Damage

By Mike Schneider
Associated Press
Wednesday, September 29, 2004; Page A28

VERO BEACH, Fla., Sept. 28 -- Janet Hettinger waited more than two days to return home to this city's barrier island only to be told she couldn't go inside. Hurricane Jeanne's winds caused too much damage.

"There's nothing to see anymore anyway," Hettinger, 81, said Tuesday. The five-story condominium where she lived was severely damaged by Hurricane Frances early this month before Jeanne ripped off facing, tore through walls and left aluminum siding dangling.

Thousands of residents waited in a mile-long line to see the destruction Jeanne left on this city's barrier island. Condo owners such as Hettinger fared the worst, while most of the single-family homes seemed to have come through all right.

Across storm-battered Florida, the day began with more than 1,000 people in shelters, 1.6 million homes and businesses without power, and at least one unidentified insurance company seeking state help because it was overwhelmed with claims.

The hurricanes' emotional toll mounted, too. Gov. Jeb Bush (R) announced that domestic violence reports are spiking in areas hit by the string of four hurricanes that slammed Florida over six weeks.

"Nerves are frayed, and frustration levels run high," Bush said.

Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne have damaged more than one of every five Florida homes. The insurance industry is expecting claims this season to top 2 million, compared with the 700,000 filed 12 years ago after Hurricane Andrew, the nation's most destructive hurricane ever. State officials estimated insured losses from this season's four storms to be $18 billion.


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