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Frances Pushes Northward

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AP
Frances completed its two-day assault on Florida, and moved on to Georgia, bringing rain and strong gusts. The rest of the East Coast is likely to see rain from the now-tropical depression this week.

Storm-weary Florida residents were left with flooding, frayed nerves and shortages of everyday items such as gas, ice and water. At least 10 deaths were blamed on the storm in Florida and Georgia.

About 3 million people had no power in Florida and more than 40,000 more were without electricity in Georgia because of winds that downed trees and power lines.

"Even our state operations center is running on a generator now," Georgia emergency management spokeswoman Lisa Ray told CBS Radio News. "Over 65 counties in south and central Georgia have canceled school for the day."

The Georgia Emergency Management Agency's Web site was off line Tuesday morning.

The storm had weakened to a tropical depression early Tuesday and was pouring up to 5 inches of rain on south-central Georgia, with another 2 to 4 inches possible overnight. Several tornadoes were reported in Georgia.

"This is now going to be a big-time rain event, first today in the southern and central Appalachians, and then probably later tomorrow throughout much of the Northeast," said CBS News Meteorologist George Cullen.

"We're getting wind gusts and heavy rain, but when we look at our neighbors in Florida, we certainly have nothing to complain about," said Ray.

The storm caused flooding in parts of Tampa, forcing police to patrol streets with two amphibious tanks and close about a mile of a busy thoroughfare. More than 100 residents of a retirement home were evacuated in wheelchairs as floodwaters sloshed against their feet.

"I'm not scared," said Heather Downs, who moved into the home two weeks ago after her apartment was badly damaged by Hurricane Charley. "I've been through a lot."

Residents of the Florida Panhandle withstood the tropical storm's heavy rain and winds of 65 mph on Labor Day, ruining the holiday weekend that forced most of the state to deal with the storm and its aftermath.

Along the Atlantic coast, motorists waited for gasoline in lines stretching up to five miles while there was heavy demand for water, ice and basic supplies. About 1,500 people gathered at a Wal-Mart in Palm Beach County while up the coast in Fort Pierce, hundreds of people stood in a line with buckets and ice chests on a sunny, steamy afternoon.

"This has been a long haul," said 64-year-old Judy Duffy, of Fort Pierce, who searched with her husband for ice and water but drove away from a distribution line with an empty cooler. "It's tested my patience. I'm not a nice person today — I haven't had my coffee."

At a Florida Turnpike rest stop in West Palm Beach, a five-mile line of motorists waited for fuel. "It took a little while, but I'm glad to be here," said Greg McCourt, who waited an hour to get gas for a trip to Georgia.

There were at least 25 arrests for looting in Florida.

Frances charged into Florida's east coast early Sunday with winds of 115 mph and more than 13 inches of rain, ripping off roofs, smashing boats and flooding West Palm Beach streets up to four feet deep.

Hurricane Frances battered the Kennedy Space Center with sustained winds of more than 70 mph, reports CBS News Space Consultant Bill Harwood, ripping off an estimated 40,000 square feet of siding on the cavernous Vehicle Assembly Building and partially destroying the roof of a critical heat shield tile facility needed for NASA's shuttle return to flight effort.

Recovering from the impact of Frances could delay NASA's first post-Columbia shuttle flight, now targeted for March, officials said. But center director Jim Kennedy said the damage, while the worst in spaceport history, was not a disaster "by any stretch of the imagination" and that it was too soon to say what impact it might have on the agency's return-to-flight efforts.

Nine deaths in Florida were blamed on Frances, and in Georgia, officials said an 18-year-old woman died Monday after the car she was riding in hydroplaned and overturned during the storm. There were two earlier deaths in the Bahamas, where Frances forced thousands from their homes.

The storm's broad bands pushed across Florida to enter the gulf north of Tampa, its path crossing some of the area hit by Charley, which killed 27 people in Florida last month and caused an estimated $7.4 billion in insured damage.

Florida Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher estimated Frances' damage at up to "a couple of billion dollars," while Germany's Munich Re, the world's largest reinsurer, said the overall insured damage caused by Frances so far is between $5 billion and $15 billion.

President Bush on Wednesday will travel to Florida — a state essential to his re-election bid — to survey the damage inflicted by Frances, reports CBS News White House Correspondent Mark Knoller.

Some schools were planning for classes to resume after serving as shelters during the weekend. The Federal Emergency Management Agency was ready to distribute 1.5 million gallons of water and 1 million meals.

While Frances headed out of Florida, residents kept a wary eye on another powerful storm. Ivan, the fifth hurricane of the year, had sustained wind of near 110 mph and was centered 140 miles south-southeast of Barbados in the central Atlantic.

"It's moving nice and fast, about 20 miles an hour, and it will go through the southernmost islands of the Lesser Antilles and then it probably will pass south of the Dominican Republic and Haiti over the next day or so," said Cullen.

Forecasters were not certain whether it would strike the United States, but after a month of damage from Hurricanes Frances and Charley, many Floridians loathed another impending storm.

"We need it like we need a hole in the head," said 93-year-old Harold Samsel of Hutchinson Island, who was waiting to go back to his apartment for the first time since Frances. "I don't even know if I've got anything to go back to."