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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 August, 2004, 11:25 GMT 12:25 UK
US hurricane victims face turmoil
Brothers Tyler and Nathan Koskella look at games and toys at the Red Cross Shelter in Englewood, Florida
More than 2,000 people are housed in emergency shelters
Residents of Florida hit by last week's hurricane are settling in for a long wait as authorities try to arrange housing and get services restored.

As temperatures soared, tempers flared, and police in the hardest-hit area said they were prepared for trouble.

More than 2,000 people are in temporary shelters. Many others are staying with family or friends.

At least 19 people have been killed by Hurricane Charley. Authorities say it is unclear how many are still missing.

Estimates for the cost of the hurricane to insurers range from $7bn to $11bn - though this does not account for the losses of those who are uninsured.


In Punta Gorda, which took the full force of the storm, Barbara Winslow, her fiance and five children waited in a thunderstorm to collect nappies, food, water and ice.

"After you live through it, you can't imagine how desperate you get," she told Associated Press.

"You don't have anything. If the end of the world came tomorrow, this is what it would look like."

Some 750,000 homes and businesses in the state are without power and about 150,000 people are without a phone service.

Incidents of looting have decreased with the arrival of some 4,000 National Guard troops and police officers from across Florida.

We're going to start seeing more domestic issues, more fighting going on, more people taking the law into their own hands
John Davenport
Charlotte chief deputy sheriff
But as temperatures climbed to the low 30s Celsius (high 80s Fahrenheit), police in Charlotte county said frustrations had begun to emerge at the power failure and lack of access to hurricane-hit areas.

"We're going to start seeing more domestic issues, more fighting going on, more people taking the law into their own hands," Charlotte chief deputy sheriff John Davenport said, according to Reuters.

Officers reportedly used a stun gun on a man trying to force his way over a bridge across to his home at Fort Myers beach.

Hundreds of complaints have also been made about people profiteering from the disaster by selling generators or offering repair services at many times over the usual price.

A 2100-to-0600 curfew is in effect in Charlotte.

Emergency funds

Federal Emergency Management Agency director Michael Brown said 11,000 applications had already been made for disaster aid.

Most are likely to be from uninsured people who need to make temporary repairs and cover other emergency costs.

Meanwhile, federal officials said they had received 20,000 catastrophic housing requests.

The White House on Monday bowed to pressure and agreed to pay the full costs of emergency protection and the clean-up from federal funds.

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23 Sep 03  |  Americas


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