Residents are being urged to remain on alert, since the days following a storm can be even more dangerous than the storm itself.
Days after Hurricane Charley tore through Florida, the storm is still claiming victims, shell-shocked citizens perhaps not taking as much care as they should are being electrocuted, dying in traffic crashes and from other avoidable accidents.
Lt. Gov. Toni Jennings is begging people to be extra cautious.
“Safety is our foremost concern at this point. More people are killed after a storm than during the storm,” says Jennings.
The crisis is a nightmare for public health officials. State Health Secretary John Agwunobi says hospitals crippled by damage from Charley are being overwhelmed by people getting hurt trying to clean up.
Agwunobi says, “There have been a number of injuries associated with the use of chain saws and other pieces of machinery in the hands of individuals who perhaps are ill-qualified to do so.”
Roads clogged with debris and traffic is making it hard for emergency workers to get through. There is some good news. State roads and bridges weathered the storm very well. Only one state road so far is reported washed away.
Transportation Secretary Jose Abreu is scrambling to replace missing street signs that might also cause accidents.
Jose says, “A lot of stop signs and traffic-type signs are out and we’re fabricating as fast as we can to get them down there.”
In the meantime, state officials are asking people with minor injuries to go to clinics and save the 9-1-1 calls and emergency room trips for only the most serious injuries.