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Florida Death Toll Continues to Rise After Storms
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Florida Death Toll Continues to Rise After Storms

U.S.

Florida Death Toll Continues to Rise After Storms

Florida Death Toll Continues to Rise After Storms
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In Florida, Gov. Charlie Crist has declared a state of emergency in four counties after a deadly series of storms swept across the state — including at least one tornado.

Authorities say at least 19 people were killed.

Searchers spent much of today sifting through debris, looking for survivors. The damage stretched from the Central Florida town of Lady Lake, northwest of Orlando, all the way to New Smyrna Beach.

In Lake, Seminole, and Sumter counties, hundreds of houses and mobile homes sat collapsed Friday as entire neighborhoods were flattened. Cars and trucks knocked over like children's toys.

A visitor could follow the fallen trees from the northeast to find the wreckage. Lines of utility and bucket trucks were pouring into the area to repair the damage.

Craig Fugate, who oversees Florida's emergency services, says while the state will help with the cleanup, there are more urgent needs at the moment. "Our focus is on the injured," Fugate said. "These are the people we need to get to now."

Residents had about 8 minutes' warning for the rare 3 a.m. twister — the central Florida communities don't have tornado sirens. After the search-and-rescue sweep is completed, Gov. Crist says that federal money will be needed to aid with recovery — he has spoken to FEMA, which has offered to assist in the recovery effort.

John Sepulvado of member station WUSF reports.

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