By the thousands, the sodden and weary returned home to the Gulf Coast to face the harsh legacy of Georges: damaged roofs, uprooted trees, floors and furnishings - lives, really - awash in surging, filthy water, seaweed and sewage.
Georges is no longer a hurricane, though it is still drenching the South as a tropical depression and sending rivers over their banks. In all of this mess, residents are returning to their homes - or what's left of them."I'm so discombobulated I don't know which way is up," said law student David Futch, whose kitchen doors were knocked away by surging water.
"I used to have a shed over there," he said, pointing to a corner of his seaweed-covered back yard Tuesday. "Now it's everywhere."
Georges and its downpours have moved north and east, into Georgia, northern Florida and South Carolina, where flood watches were in effect Wednesday. The hurricane wind that ripped the Gulf Coast with gusts as high as 174 mph had dropped to 35 mph.
However, it still had enough energy to spin off tornadoes.
Early Wednesday, an apparent twister destroyed at least six houses and injured five people in a rural arear near the north-central Florida town of Live Oak. Two of the victims had to be hospitalized, said Scott Pate, the Suwannee County emergency program coordinator.
And another apparent tornado Tuesday in west Georgia damaged a manufacturing plant at the town of Cuthbert, sending 42 workers diving for cover. "It sounded like a jet had come in the front door," said general manager Jim Howard.
President Clinton declared the entire storm-damaged swath a disaster area and planned to visit soon. About 400,000 customers from Louisiana to Florida still had no power early Wednesday.
Rivers across the region are full. The Pascagoula River at Merrill was forecast to be 5 feet above flood stage soon; sheriff's boats had to rescue residents trapped by the storm.
Big Creek Lake near the Mississippi-Alabama line overflowed, sending water down the Escatawpa River into Moss Point. One neighborhood was an eerie scene Tuesday night: Cats lined the rooftops and the red eyes of an alligator could be seen near a half-submerged stop sign.
"We've been blocking furniture all day," said Paul Bosarge as he tried to save some of his possessions. "We been blocking and blocking and we are the point where we can't block anymore. The water is coming too hard."