Damage by Jeanne Could Dwarf Last Storm; Emergency Management Agencies Estimate Storm Will Triple Frances' Impact

Article excerpt

Byline: Terry Dickson, The Times-Union

Counties hit hard by Hurricane Jeanne have begun the recovery, including assessing flooded and wind-damaged areas with state and federal emergency officials.

"We're finding out we have more damage than we previously thought,'' said Paige Dukes, a spokeswoman for the Lowndes County Emergency Management Agency in Valdosta. "A lot more flooding and many more trees down than we knew to begin with."

Early estimates there indicate Jeanne's impact will at least triple the $700,000 in damage from Hurricane Frances, Dukes said.

Her statement is echoed by other emergency management agencies across the state, including that of Charlton County, which topped Lowndes' estimates on damage from Frances and could match it on Jeanne.

The damage didn't stop as Jeanne exited Georgia overnight Monday and moved into South Carolina. The storm's trailing winds knocked down more trees Monday night, Dukes said.

Counties are methodically rebuilding dirt roads washed out by the more than 6 inches of rain that fell in some areas.

Some of that work can't be done right away because some roads remain flooded or too wet to work on, said Ware County Manager Gail Boyd.

"We're working hard to fix them as well as we can,'' she said.

Crews worked until 9 p.m. Monday, but part of the work is simply barricading roads until the water recedes enough to make repairs possible, she said.

Boyd said her office will ask for bids to rebuild a section of Nicholas Highway, a paved county road, that washed out near the Bickley community.

Ware was fortunate to have had only one home flooded, she said.

In other developments:

-- The tripling of damage from Frances to Jeanne seems consistent across Georgia's affected counties, said Ken Davis, a spokesman for the Georgia Emergency Management Agency. The cost of public assistance will likely be $17 million for Frances and $27 million for Ivan, he said. Those estimates could change as the recovery work is being done, he said.

Public assistance refers to costs to uninsured non-profit agencies, mostly local governments, and includes repairs to roads, bridges and culverts, erecting barricades, restoring power and removing debris, he said. …


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