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Ivan devastates

By By MICHELE GERLACH Publisher
That's what Escambia County residents said repeatedly as they surveyed the damage caused by Hurricane Ivan.
Escambia County EMA director David Jennings put it simply.
Friday afternoon, the State of Alabama considered Escambia County its third priority. Mobile County was the first priority because of the sheer numbers of people there without electricity. Baldwin County, where Hurricane Ivan came ashore, was second on the priority list, followed by Escambia County. Mobile County has 440,000 residents, while Baldwin County has about 140,000 residents.
President George W. Bush was expected to survey the damage in Alabama and the Florida Panhandle during the weekend.
The eye of the hurricane passed over the west end of the county between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. Thursday. With its broad span and spin-off tornadoes, evidence of Ivan's presence was everywhere by dawn.
State and national EMA officials said there is a certain process that must be followed before help can be provided. The county EMA director must request help from the state, and the state must notify FEMA with requests for help if the state is unable to meet a specific need.
Friday afternoon, Jennings had listed water, ice, meals ready to eat (MREs) and generators as critical needs in Escambia County.
He said a cutting crew from the Alabama Forestry Commission had already arrived in the county and was assisting with the removal of trees from the county's roads and highways.
Additionally, a team of Alabama State Troopers assisted with traffic control and the prevention of looting, Sheriff Grover Smith said.
Smith said a team of 15 to 20 deputies from Jefferson County was expected to arrive in the county this weekend, and planned to set up a command center in the parking lot of Banktrust. Meanwhile, Motorola offered a mobile command center that was to be set up in Flomaton.
Smith said there were no injuries or deaths reported from the storm. However, one evacuee who was not a local resident died of a heart attack after the storm passed while travelling through Escambia County, he said.