Weather-whipped Floridians blinked into the bright sun Monday and for the fourth time in six weeks trudged toward recovery, dragging broken tree limbs and ripped shingles to the curb.
President Bush late Monday asked Congress for $7.1 billion to help recovery efforts in Florida, other states and the Caribbean after hurricanes Ivan and Jeanne. The request makes a total of $12.2 billion in federal disaster aid requested by the administration for the four hurricanes that have hit Florida.
Progress Energy made an unusual emergency decision to fly in repair crews. Crews will travel on commercial and corporate planes, and their equipment trucks will be brought in on flatbed trailers or leased.
Utility workers across the state are running out of steam.
"It's an endurance test for us and our customers. Hopefully, there won't be another leg to this," said Grant Heston, a spokesman for Orlando Utilities Commission.
The state death toll remained at six Monday, but as search and recovery efforts get into full swing it could easily climb, officials said. The hurricane made landfall about midnight Saturday at Hutchinson Island on Florida's east coast and slowly cut a northwesterly swath up near Tampa Bay.
Insured losses from Hurricane Jeanne could range from $6 billion to $8 billion, according to an estimate released Monday by Eqecat Inc., a hurricane-loss modeler.
Public schools in Orange, Brevard, Lake, Osceola and Polk remain closed today because of power outages. Seminole and Volusia county school districts are the only ones in the region that plan to hold classes this morning.
After further deluging the flooded St. Johns River and its tributaries in Volusia and Seminole counties, Hurricane Jeanne was downgraded to a tropical storm as it spun north into Georgia on Monday. It was expected to further weaken into a tropical depression as it moves into the Carolinas today.
Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Lisa weakened Monday as it inched north in the open Atlantic, no threat to the United States.
Jeanne hit Florida as a Category 3 with 120-mph winds -- tearing up beaches, homes and hotels, as well as military and NASA facilities. Some buildings that suffered heavy roof and flood damage at Patrick Air Force Base in Cape Canaveral might not be salvageable, said Brig. Gen. Patrick Owen, commander of the Air Force's 45th Space Wing.
The Kennedy Space Center, which suffered the worst damage in its history from Hurricane Frances, will open today even though its massive Vehicle Assembly Building incurred additional water damage and lost about 30 more tiles, said KSC Director Jim Kennedy. It lost 800 during Frances.
"I'm just sitting here realizing how much difference a few miles can be," Kennedy said.
Jeanne also left large footprints far inland. In Lakeland, a 500-foot-wide washout opened over an old phosphate pit. It swallowed up portions of a Beef O'Brady's and a sushi bar, washed down with a swimming-pool-supply business.
Airport and theme parks returned to business after closing for the third time in six weeks.
Orange County Chairman Rich Crotty sought to assure tourists and conventiongoers that the killer weather is not part of the regularly scheduled program.
"This is a weather aberration; it's not the norm," he said.
That characterization may be a harder sell to the staggering residents of Florida's southeast coast, where Jeanne's eye blasted ashore eerily near to where Hurricane Frances hit Sept. 5.
Struggling back -- again
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