Hurricane Ivan brought death, damage and disaster

US authorities combed through the rubble of shattered homes and toppled trees as remnants of what was deadly Hurricane Ivan - which killed at least 35 people in the United States and 70 in the Caribbean - on Saturday dumped heavy rain on much of the US mid-Atlantic.

The &to=http://' target=_blank>monster storm slammed into the US Gulf Coast early on Thursday, packing winds of up to 215km/h, with a fury that wrecked houses and buildings and caused widespread flooding.

Authorities launched a huge relief operation Friday along the Gulf Coast even as Ivan's rains fell and flooding in the Appalachians claimed more lives from Georgia through the Carolinas, says News24.

According to the Associated Press, Hurricane Ivan's storm surge and pounding waves swamped the barrier islands that stand guard along the central Gulf of Mexico coast, eroding their protective sand and causing millions of dollars in &to=http://' target=_blank>damage, coastal experts said.

"Every indication right now is that this was a very serious event in terms of changes to the coast," said Abby Sallenger, an oceanographer with the U.S. Geological Survey in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, D-Fla., flew over the barrier island off Pensacola on Friday.

"All of the dunes are gone," Nelson said. "All of those sugary white beaches and the dunes have been washed over the entire barrier island."

Barrier islands run parallel to the mainland and are built up by waves and currents. They buffer the mainland against storms, provide wildlife habitat and draw tourists to their sandy beaches.

In Alabama, Orange Beach reported severe damage to 60 percent of its wooden structures, while concrete buildings fared better. Despite the damage, authorities said they were relieved that Ivan didn't kill anyone in the area.

Gulf Shores Mayor David Bodenhamer said his town was ravaged by wind and floodwaters. Residents will begin returning to their properties to assess the damage Saturday, but some will not be able to reach the area until Monday.

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