August 31, 2005 at 2:37 PM CDT - Updated July 10 at 9:25 PM
by Garry Mitchell, Associated Press Writer
Floodwaters that engulfed the Alabama coast receded Tuesday, laying bare the stark extent of misery brought by Hurricane Katrina: Cement slabs where homes once stood, a 100-foot shrimp boat smoldering on its side, people searching for swept-away keepsakes.
"It's over for a lot of people here," Dale Wade, owner of the shrimp boat, said as he surveyed the damage. "We're going to need some help."
Katrina's punch might have been the equivalent of Hurricane Ivan's in places, as evidenced by the eye-popping signs of the storm's strength: Scores of yachts and fishing boats scattered across woods and swampland, carried by floodwaters from marina berths. A beached oil drilling platform. Steel-hulled vessels in a jumble at a shipyard.
Soaked furniture and clothing were spread out in the sun in front yards at Bayou La Batre, where homes and businesses were flooded.
Sarah Durham, whose family had a vacation home on the bayou for 10 years, was left with nothing but a concrete slab and the 18 posts that had held up the house. She looked through the nearby woods for dishes, silverware and other keepsakes from her home.
As tears welled in her eyes, she recalled what the house meant. "It was bought for us to enjoy, and we sure did," she said.
"There is no water, no electricity and no gas," said Khan Toum, a shipyard welder who stood with friends as his bayou house dried out. "It's worse than Ivan."
But with the death toll rising on the nearby Mississippi coast, there was an upside despite the hardship. "We're all alive," said Wade. "That's all that really matters to us."
Two deaths in a car accident in heavy rain in WashingtonCounty were the only reported fatalities in Alabama related to Katrina. About 800,000 customers were without power at the storm's peak, but the number began dropping Tuesday.
In Mobile, where streets were left with a muddy residue from the massive flooding, curbsides were stacked with tree debris. Police and volunteers directed traffic at intersections where traffic lights didn't work because of the outages.
We've got trees on homes, trees on cars, trees on the roads," said Matt McCracken, director of the Marion County Emergency Management Agency in northwest Alabama.
Hurricane Ivan blew ashore Sept. 16 last year in Gulf Shores, Ala., as a Category 3 storm. It was blamed for 25 deaths in all.
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