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Last Updated: Monday, 16 August, 2004, 18:49 GMT 19:49 UK
Florida begins hurricane clean-up
A lady amid her hurricane-hit home in Florida
Many of the victims lived in retirement villages
The people of Florida have begun to clear up after the worst hurricane to hit the state in a dozen years.

National Guard troops and volunteers have arrived to help distribute aid, while insurance adjusters are assessing damage estimated between $10 and $15bn.

The death toll continued to rise, reaching at least 16, with two people killed from generator fumes.

Hand-painted signs saying "looters will be killed" warned anyone who might take advantage of the chaos.

Hid in closet

Emergency crews checked houses for hundreds of people not yet accounted for.

"We can't even get through all the roads yet," said Lieutenant Donna Roguska of Charlotte County sheriff's office.

However, he told how in one mobile home park popular with retired people an elderly woman was rescued.

A man amid his hurricane-hit business in Florida

"They did find one lady who was in her closet," he said. "She thought the storm was still going on. We were able to get her out of there."

Many of Charley's victims died after the hurricane had passed.

The Orlando Sentinel newspaper reported that two of the fatalities were caused when a family used an emergency generator when their home lost power.

Robert Banks, 50, and his stepson Michael Thompson, 33, were found dead in their beds from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Mr Banks' girlfriend was one of more than 100 people taken to hospital with breathing difficulties from such incidents.

The paper also said a 17th victim died when his car hit a fallen tree, but this could not be confirmed.

Volunteers joined the effort to get vital supplies to the surviving victims.

They helped distribute clean water, ice to preserve food and first aid kits.

On Sunday President George W Bush joined his brother, Florida State Governor Jeb Bush, for a helicopter flight over the worst-hit areas.

Punta Gorda, a town of some 15,000, took the full force of the storm, with few buildings left untouched.

To explore this area is to see untold devastation, says the BBC's Daniel Lak in Punta Gorda - with mile after mile of streets with wrecked homes, trailer parks full of twisted heaps of metal and everywhere, fallen trees and power lines.


SEE ALSO:
Bush visits hurricane-hit Florida
16 Aug 04  |  Americas
Hurricanes boost Nature's chances
22 Apr 04  |  Science/Nature
'Two die' as storm strikes Canada
29 Sep 03  |  Americas
Three dead in Mexico hurricane
23 Sep 03  |  Americas


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