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Jeanne Weakens Over Georgia

After wreaking more havoc on already storm-torn Florida this weekend and leaving at least six dead, Hurricane Jeanne (search) weakened to a tropical depression late Monday morning as it rumbled over Georgia and headed toward the Carolinas.

At 2 p.m., the center was in southwestern Georgia south of Macon. It was moving north at 14 mph and was expected to move over the Carolinas.

Click here to see the latest tracking forecasts for Hurricane Jeanne.

Jeanne was at barely tropical storm strength when its center moved over Georgia late Monday morning, dumping up to 6 inches of rain. It later weakened into a tropical depression with steady winds near 35 mph.

The storm doused South Carolina and spawned tornadoes that damaged seven mobile homes and a building housing a Head Start center, said Cody Odom, of the Clarendon County Disaster Preparedness Agency. Four people were injured.

The fourth hurricane in six weeks to ravage Florida and the surrounding region shut down much of the Sunshine State over the weekend and killed at least six people, prompting recovery plans on a scale never before seen in the nation.

Jeanne plowed across Florida's midsection in a virtual rerun for many residents still trying to regroup from hurricanes that have crisscrossed the Southeast since mid-August.

The storm came ashore around midnight Saturday with 120-mph winds, striking its first blow in the same area hit three weeks ago by Hurricane Frances (search).

"We have some people in Florida who have been hit two or three times now by these hurricanes," FEMA director Mike Brown said in a television interview Monday. "They have to be miserable right now."

Frustration was obvious Monday in Florida. Nicole Jillard and Ed Holzer waited 20 minutes in their car with their 3- and 1-year-old children for two bags of ice, a case of bottled water and 12 Meals Ready to Eat at a Kmart parking lot in Stuart.

The drive-up service provided by the National Guard attracted a line of cars stretching at least a half-mile down U.S. 1, the coastal city's main thoroughfare.

"This is not good," Holzer said. "We don't have enough money to keep running to places like Fort Myers for food and water."

The storm had moved east of the Panhandle, where 70,000 homes and businesses remained without power because of Hurricane Ivan less than two weeks ago.

Irene Underwood, 88, waited at a Red Cross shelter in Melbourne for a ride to her sixth shelter since the hurricanes started. Her latest temporary home was being closed as emergency officials consolidated operations.

"I can't go home because I don't have any power. It's terrible," Underwood said.

Martin County Commissioner Doug Smith said Monday that Jeanne left few buildings in his county unscarred because Frances had weakened them and subsequent rain from Ivan had saturated the ground.

Jeanne ripped off roofs, left stop lights dangling precariously, destroyed a deserted community center in Jensen Beach and flooded some bridges from the mainland to barrier islands straddling the Atlantic coast. About 2.6 million homes and businesses were without power.

Florida was the first state to withstand a four-hurricane pounding in one season since Texas in 1886 — a milestone that came with two months remaining in the hurricane season.

"We fix it and nature destroys it and we fix it again," said Rockledge bar owner Franco Zavaroni, who opened his tavern to seven friends who spread mattresses on the floor among the pool tables to ride out the storm.

About 50 homes in Valdosta, Ga., in the south-central part of the state, were evacuated early Monday because of flooding. More than 76,000 Georgia homes and businesses were without power, and about 760 people stayed in Red Cross shelters.

President Bush declared a major disaster area in Florida while officials with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (search) said the hurricanes represented the largest relief effort in the agency's history, larger than the response to the 1994 earthquake in the Northridge section of Los Angeles.

More than 3,000 National Guard troops were deployed to aid relief efforts. Several counties, including Palm Beach and St. Lucie — two of the hardest hit by Jeanne's winds and rain — opened distribution sites Monday for water and ice.

Charley was a faster storm when it hammered Florida's southwest coast Aug. 13; Frances blanketed much of the peninsula after striking the state's Atlantic coast Sept. 5 and Ivan blasted the western Panhandle when it made landfall Sept. 16. The three storms caused billions of dollars in damage and killed at least 73 people in Florida alone.

"I never want to go through this again," said 8-year-old Katie Waskiewicz, who checked out the fallen trees and broken roof tiles in her Palm Beach Gardens neighborhood after riding out Jeanne with her family. "I was running around the house screaming."

Jeanne was a Category 3 hurricane when it made landfall at Hutchinson Island, 35 miles north of West Palm Beach — almost the same spot that Frances struck. Officials at the National Hurricane Center said the similar paths were possibly unprecedented.

At least 21 Florida county school districts canceled classes on Monday, including St. Lucie County, where schools had not reopened since Frances.

Police in St. Lucie rescued five families when the hurricane's eye passed over, including a couple in their 90s in wheelchairs whose mobile home collapsed around them, emergency operations spokeswoman Linette Trabulsy said. A Coast Guard helicopter crew found two fishermen who had radioed a mayday off Anclote Key, about 25 miles northwest of Tampa.

The toll from the latest storm extended south to Miami, where one person was electrocuted after touching a downed power line. Two people died when their sport utility vehicle plunged into a canal; a 15-year-old boy was killed by a falling tree; and a man was found dead in a ditch in what police called an apparent drowning.

A 60-year-old man was found dead after a hurricane party at a home. Police said the death may be alcohol-related or he may have drowned in the flooded house.

The Palm Beach County sheriff's office made 132 arrests for curfew violations.

Four people in a car stopped for violating the curfew dragged a sergeant 150 feet Sunday night near Belle Glade. Three other deputies fired on the car, which blew a tire.

With Jeanne dumping heavy rain, there was fear of flooding in the days to come in already saturated east and central Florida. The storm dumped about 10 inches of rain in Palm Beach County and 5 inches in Orlando, St. Petersburg and Melbourne.

Most counties in South Carolina's northeast corner were under a flood watch, and the U.S. Weather Service placed much of southern Georgia under a tornado watch.

North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley declared a state of emergency and mobilized 300 National Guard soldiers.

Earlier, Jeanne caused flooding in Haiti that killed more than 1,500 people.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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