One Death, Damage in Wake of Dennis

7-11-05 - DESTIN, Fla. (AP) Coastal authorities are beginning to get a better look at the damage left behind by Hurricane Dennis.

In Destin, Florida -- where the hurricane made landfall -- authorities have closed Holiday Isle and Crystal Beach because of significant damage to homes. Still, early reports indicate only one death in Florida so far -- a man electrocuted by a downed power line in Fort Lauderdale.

Well over half a million homes and businesses in Florida, Alabama and Mississippi have lost power because of the storm. The main utility for Florida's western Panhandle area says customers should be prepared to do without power for three weeks or longer.

The storm surge also washed out about 40 miles of coastal federal highway around the fishing village of St. Marks.

Dennis is now centered over southwestern Alabama and forecasters say heavy rain and tornados are the storm's major problems now.

President Bush has declared portions of Florida, Alabama and Mississippi disaster areas because of Hurricane Dennis, making them eligible for a variety of federal assistance.

Direct assistance to individuals in Baldwin and Mobile counties in Alabama is authorized along with Escambia and Santa Rosa counties in Florida.

Such assistance is being administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. It can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster

Additionally, federal funding is available to state and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis.