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Hurricane Katrina

Electrical outages still a problem in South Florida

By TAMARA LUSH, Times Staff Writer
Published August 30, 2005

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MIAMI GARDENS - There's not much visible damage in Chandria Hanna's neighborhood - no flooding, no heaps of wind-swept debris, no roofs torn away.

Still, the 39-year-old hasn't had electricity in five days, since Hurricane Katrina swept ashore Thursday night.

"It's so hot you become dehydrated," said Hanna, who drove to a local park where officials handed out free ice and water Monday. "The food's gone bad, all of my meat, drinks, milk."

About 260,000 people in South Florida still don't have electricity. Two-thirds of those people live in Miami-Dade County. Florida Power & Light Co. says 90 percent of affected customers will have power by tonight, and the other 10 percent by Friday.

"People assume that because other neighborhoods didn't have the damage of Homestead, that they aren't suffering," said Miami-Dade County Commissioner Barbara Jordan, who helped hand out ice on Monday. "People are suffering."

Katrina hit South Florida as a Category 1 storm with 80 mph winds. Some areas, including Homestead, Cutler Ridge and Naranja, were flooded, but it remains unclear how many homes were damaged.

Eleven people in Florida have died. A couple in Davie, 65 and 43, died of apparent carbon monoxide poisoning from a generator running in their home. Carbon monoxide poisoning was also suspected in the death of a 27-year-old man in northwest Miami-Dade. Three people drowned: A 67-year-old man and a 61-year-old man died when they tried to ride out the storm in their boats, and a 49-year-old Florida City man was found floating in floodwaters in his front yard. Four people were struck by falling trees or tree limbs. A 79-year-old man died in a car crash in Broward County.

The federal government has declared Broward and Miami-Dade counties disaster areas, enabling authorities to receive reimbursement for debris removal and emergency protective measures.

But the government has not approved assistance for claims of torn roofs, collapsed mobile homes and other damage.

Schools reopened in Broward and the Florida Keys on Monday, but they remained closed in Miami-Dade. In Homestead, floodwaters had receded Monday and the roads were open.

"We're looking very good," said Ed Bowe, spokesman for the Homestead Police Department. "It's been able to dry up substantially."

Ruth Russell, a 63-year-old who lives on Miami's north side, headed to a Starbucks to cool off. Having survived cervical cancer and a bout of homelessness in the past five years put her in a reflective mood as she sipped coffee.

"This is nothing," she said and smiled. "It's inconvenient, but that's all. I'm just so grateful to have my life."

--Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

[Last modified August 30, 2005, 08:33:54]

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