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As officials gauge damage, rains add to tornado victims' troubles

By Associated Press
Published August 10, 2003

PALM BEACH GARDENS - Heavy rains from Saturday thunderstorms added to the damage of homes ripped apart by a tornado that cut a path through two cities earlier in the week.

Rain also soaked Florida Lt. Gov. Toni Jennings as she toured A Garden Walk mobile home park in Palm Beach Gardens, the area hardest hit by the Thursday tornado.

"Right now, duct tape and (plastic sheeting) are our best friends," Jennings said.

Joining her were officials from Florida Division of Emergency Management and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The agencies had teams going door-to-door to assess the number of homes and businesses damaged and the extent of the economic impact from Palm Beach Gardens east to Riviera Beach.

Jennings saw where one mobile home had been picked up and dropped on a neighboring unit. Broken glass and sodden lumps of insulation littered a landscape highlighted by bizarrely twisted sheets of metal.

She noted that many of the people who suffered the worst damage are among the area's poorer residents, lacking insurance or savings to help them get on their feet again.

"Unfortunately, living in Florida all my life, I've seen more than my share of natural disasters," said Jennings. "I don't know how we continue to have them hit on trailer parks, and it is such a sad situation when it does."

She said she would report back to Gov. Jeb Bush.

Fifty or more of the 440 units in the mobile home park were destroyed or heavily damaged.

[Last modified August 10, 2003, 02:02:50]

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