Les anglonautes

About | Search | Grammar | Vocapedia | Learning | News podcasts | Videos | History | Arts | Science | Translate and listen

 Previous Home Up Next

 

History > 2005 > USA > Hurricane Wilma

 

 

 

 

NOAA satellite image shows Hurricane Wilma

as the Category Four storm

churned in the northwestern Caribbean Sea

headed toward Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula,

on October 20, 2005.

 

Photograph: REUTERS/NOAA/Handout

 

Tourists flee as Hurricane Wilma threatens Mexico

R

Thu Oct 20, 2005    11:19 PM ET

http://today.reuters.com/news/NewsArticle.aspx?type=topNews&storyID=
2005-10-21T031857Z_01_ROB857009_RTRUKOC_0_US-WEATHER-WILMA.xml

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everglades Journal

High Season Is a Casualty After Storms

 

November 23, 2005
The New York Times
By ABBY GOODNOUGH

 

EVERGLADES NATIONAL PARK, Fla. - This is normally the splendid season at Everglades National Park, when mosquitoes relent (sort of), the humidity lifts and the trails through remote cypress stands and saw grass sloughs become South Florida's finest escape.

But little here is normal after Hurricane Wilma's brutal winds and eight-foot storm surge battered the park last month. The storm toppled thousands of trees, wiped out backcountry campsites and flooded the park's lone hotel so badly that it will remain closed through next year.

The flooding from Florida Bay left boat launching sites, boardwalks and visitor centers caked with mud so stubborn it had to be power-washed away. It tipped trams and houseboats, wrecked housing for park employees and left a coating of slimy algae on a loop road loved by bikers and alligators.

Many surviving trees lost leaves or turned brown, making the subtropical landscape look more like a place where the temperature would never reach 90 degrees in November.

"It reminds me of being up north," said Rick Cook, a spokesman for the park for 11 years. "I've never seen the trees bare like this."

Hurricanes can bring some benefits for nature, and the Everglades, a vast expanse of low-lying marshland enjoyed by birds and reptiles, is particularly well adapted to surviving them. The storm flushed sediment out of Florida Bay, killed harmful exotic trees and gave native species a chance to grow faster by thinning the tree canopy and letting sunlight in.

The destruction was minor compared with the damage done by past storms, like Hurricane Donna in 1960, which killed far more vegetation and wading birds.

"It's pruned a little but really isn't all that different," Craig Smith, the park's chief botanist, said of the landscape. "Things don't get big down here because they get pruned by storm after storm after storm."

Still, Mr. Smith said, it will probably take a decade for the park to look the way it once did. The storm might have made it easier for some nonnative trees and plants to spread and destroyed roosting areas for birds.

Unlike Hurricane Andrew in 1992, which wreaked havoc on the headquarters, main visitor center and adjacent boardwalks on the park's eastern side, Hurricane Wilma pounded the Flamingo area at the park's southern tip, a former hunting and fishing outpost that is now a bird-watching haven and starting point for canoe trips.

Flamingo is one of the only spots in the world where crocodiles and alligators coexist. And until recently, it was the only place in the park where visitors could sleep in a hotel room - at the 1950's-era Flamingo Lodge, 38 miles down a lonely road from the main entrance - instead of in a tent.

The park also suffered damage from Hurricane Katrina, and workers were still cleaning up from that storm when Hurricane Wilma hit on Oct. 24. After both storms, crews from national parks around the country traveled to South Florida to help gather and remove the debris blocking roads, trails and waterways.

One recent afternoon, a crew from Canyon de Chelly National Monument in Arizona made up of Navajo Indians, some of whom had never before left home, said they were amazed by the flatness of the Everglades and by its slithering wildlife.

"Our first week here we saw a nine-foot python," said Harris Hardy, who was piling dead branches from coco plum and wax myrtle trees near Flamingo. "One of our guys was sawing in a tree and it was laying right there."

More than 150 pythons have been spotted in the park in the last two years, presumably abandoned pets or their descendants, park rangers said, including one that tried in vain to swallow an alligator earlier this year. The park is home to more than two dozen other snake species, as well as wild pigs, endangered Florida panthers and myriad swooping, jewel-colored birds.

Most wildlife apparently survived the storm, Mr. Cook said. In fact, the birds at Flamingo got to feast for days on fish that had been swept from Florida Bay into tidal pools created by the storm surge.

Though it first appeared that the park would be closed indefinitely, some areas have recovered quickly. The Gulf Coast Visitor Center in Everglades City, at the northwest point of the park, reopened on Nov. 3, the main visitor center near Florida City on Nov. 11 and the Shark Valley Visitor Center, home of the loop road along the park's northern border, on Nov. 12.

Visitors can travel about halfway down the road to Flamingo from Florida City but will have to wait at least another week or two to glimpse Flamingo again. And the wait for backcountry camping - at isolated sites that include chickees, or raised wooden platforms with roofs over swamps - will be longer because so many chickees were damaged.

The park usually grants about 30,000 backcountry camping permits a year, with the busiest season lasting from Christmas through February.

While the park may be less visited this year and its landscape less vivid, Mr. Cook said, felled trees and temporary flooding are far preferable to other problems: the invasion of exotic species and the disruption of the natural flow of water to the Everglades to aid farming and development farther north.

"If trees go down, it's fine as long as the reason is a naturally caused one," Mr. Cook said. "Our real concern is altered water flow from upstream, and hurricanes don't change that one way or another."

High Season Is a Casualty After Storms,
NYT,
23.11.2005,
https://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/23/
us/nationalspecial/in-everglades-high-season-is-a-casualty-after-storms.html

 

 

 

 

 

Wilma damage

to Florida economy

to be short-lived

 

Fri Oct 28, 2005 1:28 PM ET
Reuters
By Michael Connor

 

MIAMI (Reuters) - Hurricane Wilma's wounds to the thriving Florida economy will heal quickly and the storm that tore through the state's most populous areas will eventually boost business and financial growth, analysts say.

"This is not like Katrina in New Orleans," said Hank Fishkind, president of economic consultants Fishkind & Associates in Orlando. "We don't have extreme damage to infrastructure and businesses."

Wilma, which was briefly the most powerful storm recorded in the Atlantic region, came ashore on Monday in southwest Florida and whipped across densely populated Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties to the Atlantic.

The storm knocked out windows in Miami and Fort Lauderdale office towers, damaged thousands of homes and businesses and cut power to almost 7 million people. Wilma left 14 people dead in Florida and killed 18 in Haiti, Mexico and the Bahamas.

By contrast, Katrina killed more than 1,200 people in the U.S. Gulf Coast region during August and caused as much $125 billion in economic losses. It also possibly altered permanently the economies of New Orleans and other cities.

Risk analysts estimate Wilma caused as much as $12 billion of insured damages in Florida, a total that would make it among the costliest U.S. storms.

"Florida is just economically and geographically diverse. It has 20 metropolitan areas that are scattered," said Robin Prunty, a director of public finance at Standard & Poor's Ratings in New York. "That was certainly not the case with Katrina."

Florida's economy is thriving, largely because of strong housing and tourism sectors, and can easily handle short shop closures and job losses, analysts said. Much of the insured losses will be quickly made whole, they said.

"Unlike Charley, (a 2004 hurricane), which destroyed Punta Gorda and parts of Charlotte County, Wilma did not destroy the infrastructure or the economy of south Florida. It will come back very quickly," Fishkind said.

Property in south Florida was widely insured, he said, and the rebuilding and repairs fueled by insurance payments will spur retail sales and demand for workers after a few weeks or months.

"These events, at the level of Wilma, are somewhat stimulative to the economy. They disrupt the economy immediately but most of the business is not lost forever," Fishkind said.

Local governments and state agencies will spend heavily cleaning up after Wilma, even as sales taxes and other revenues dip, at least temporarily, according to Prunty.

"For the state and local governments, on a fiscal year basis, the effect will likely be minor," she said. "It may lower growth rates, but it is not going to cause an absolute decline. There is too much else going on."

Prunty said Florida's state government, whose debt carries S&P's top rating of "AAA", has substantial budget reserves, even after the expenses and dislocations caused by the seven other hurricanes that have hit Florida in the last 15 months.

State agriculture officials estimate that Wilma, in areas outside urban south Florida, caused as much as $1 billion of damage to sugar cane, citrus fruit and winter vegetable crops. Greenhouses, processing facilities and equipment were also damaged.

    Wilma damage to Florida economy to be short-lived, R, 28.10.2005, http://today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=domesticNews&storyID=2005-10-28T172809Z_01_SCH862831_RTRUKOC_0_US-WEATHER-WILMA-FLORIDA.xml

 

 

 

 

 

100 M.P.H. Punch Crumples Sugar Cane,

a Champ of Florida Economy

 

October 28, 2005
The New York Times
By JOSEPH B. TREASTER
and ABBY GOODNOUGH

 

SOUTH BAY, Fla., Oct. 27 - The green fields of sugar cane stretched to the horizon here on the southern edge of Lake Okeechobee. Normally the stalks rise ramrod straight, like battalions of soldiers in orderly ranks.

But after being beaten for hours by winds of more than 100 miles an hour from Hurricane Wilma, the columns of cane bent forward in defeat on Thursday, some nearly flat against the rich black soil of the Everglades, others tangled and twisted in sad bunches.

"This is going to have a huge economic impact, not only on growers, but on workers living paycheck to paycheck," said Representative Mark Foley, Republican of Florida, as he visited the emergency operations center in nearby Clewiston and a shelter for storm victims.

Sugar cane is one of the most important crops in the state, and agriculture vies with tourism as the main engine in Florida's economy, which is valued at $50 billion annually.

The losses in the region are going to run into the tens of millions if not billions of dollars, government officials and business people said. They will be among the most severe consequences of a hurricane that swept the southern portion of Florida on Monday and left the state in logistical knots days later.

More than two million homes and businesses were without electricity on Thursday, down from the peak of nearly four million. After getting off to a rough start, the distribution of basic supplies like ice, water and emergency meals was more organized. But vast lines for gasoline could still be seen in the three largest counties in the state, Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach.

Government officials said that restoring power to gas stations was a top priority now that most hospitals had electricity. Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, the arrival point for most of the region's fuel, reopened to tankers on Thursday, and four pulled in. But fewer trucks than usual took the gas out to service stations because many stations remained closed.

Steve Gordon, a diesel mechanic born in Jamaica, said he waited in line for gas in Fort Lauderdale for four and a half hours early Thursday. "I only got five gallons; that was the limit," Mr. Gordon said. So after driving to a livestock farm here on the edge of Lake Okeechobee to buy a goat to serve after his nephew's funeral, he headed for a gas station. Only a few were open, but the lines were much shorter, and Mr. Gordon hoped to fill his tank.

President Bush visited the region in the afternoon, surveying the damage from a helicopter and stopping by a Baptist church in Pompano Beach that was feeding storm victims. Joined by his brother, Gov. Jeb Bush, the president tried to pacify the angry legions lacking electricity, potable water and gas.

"Things don't happen instantly, but they are happening," President Bush said. "People are getting fed. Soon more and more houses will have electricity. Their lives will get back to normal."

In South Bay, population 4,500, and nearby Clewiston, population 15,000, some hardware and grocery stores opened Thursday and several filling stations were selling gas. During the night, the first government food supplies reached Clewiston. On Thursday morning, more than 100 cars lined up for water, ice and boxes of chicken stew and barbecued beef.

Lolita Williams, 42, inched toward the food and water in a tan Pontiac with three other women and two small children. "I'm hungry till my head hurts," Ms. Williams said.

The area, heavily populated by migrant workers from Mexico, Jamaica and Haiti, is already one of the poorest in the state. Most fieldworkers have lost nearly a week's pay.

Nestor Betancos, who drives sugar cane workers to their fields in a bus, said his bosses had told him, "We ain't going to be able to work for two weeks to two months."

"The cane is all lying down," he said. "And the mills have been damaged, too."

In addition to sugar, oranges, ornamental plants and vegetables like lettuce, peppers and corn are grown in this area. Many of the vegetables are sold in New York.

On Thursday afternoon, Bobby Tony Smith, the city manager of South Bay, paused in a sport utility vehicle west of town as a soldier with an M-16 rifle and three town employees distributed water and food to homes along a main road. Looking out at the damaged cane fields, Mr. Smith said he could not say how many millions of dollars the losses would be. But, he said, "The windshield view suggests mass devastation to the crops."

Rick Henderson, the president of Henderson's Sani Service Systems, which provides portable toilets for fieldworkers, said, "The farmers lost probably 80 percent of their crop."

"I imagine this is going to kill our business," said Mr. Henderson, who has lived in the area all his life. "When the farmers get hit, it has a domino effect on the whole area."

+

Cuba Accepts U.S. Aid

WASHINGTON, Oct. 27 (Reuters) - Cuba, the longtime American foe whose own offer of help was snubbed by Washington after Hurricane Katrina, has for the first time "in memory" accepted American disaster aid, the State Department said Thursday. A State Department spokesman, Sean McCormack, said a three-member American assessment team was on standby to go to Cuba to see what was needed after flooding from the storm.

 

Joseph B. Treaster reported from South Bay for this article and Abby Goodnough from Miami.

100 M.P.H. Punch Crumples Sugar Cane, a Champ of Florida Economy, NYT, 28.10.2005, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/28/national/nationalspecial/28wilma.html

 

 

 

 

 

Long lines plague Wilma-ravaged Florida

 

Wed Oct 26, 2005 1:38 PM ET
Reuters
By Jim Loney

 

MIAMI (Reuters) - Floridians lined up for gas, water, ice and money on Wednesday, and power crews worked to restore electricity to 5.5 million people as the state's most-populous region slowly recovered from Hurricane Wilma.

Lights reappeared in many of the office towers in downtown Miami and the city recalled employees to work, despite having no power at City Hall. But for many of the 5 million people in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach metropolitan area, life was still a tedious wait for basics.

Trucks convoys moved through the stricken region, carrying workers who righted power poles, hacked up fallen trees and replaced downed lines.

Wilma killed five people in Florida on Monday and one in the Bahamas after a damaging trek through the Caribbean, where 17 people died in Haiti and Mexico.

Risk analysts have estimated Wilma's damage in Florida at up to $10 billion, which would rank it among the top-10 most-expensive storms to hit the United States.

A line stretching for hundreds of yards formed at a downtown Miami service station that had gas on Tuesday but was closed on Wednesday.

Similar lines formed at a handful of gas stations, ATMs, grocery stores and shops that showed any signs of opening. Federal relief agencies distributed ice and water at centers throughout the region.

South Florida had plenty of fuel, but little electricity to pump it from the ground.

Florida Power & Light, the local power company, said it could take three weeks or more to restore power to everyone.

"We have 2.7 million customers without power this morning," a company spokeswoman said. One customer is usually considered to represent two people.

The remnants of Wilma faded over the Atlantic Ocean after lashing the U.S. northeast on Tuesday.

The 2005 Atlantic-Caribbean hurricane season has been a record-breaker, with 22 tropical storms or hurricanes, besting the old record of 21 set in 1933.

This year was also marked by the most intense Atlantic storms ever recorded, including Hurricane Katrina, which in August burst the levees protecting New Orleans and flooded the city. Katrina caused more than $30 billion in damage, probably the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history.

Two days after Wilma struck, south Florida was slowly putting itself back together. Miami International and Palm Beach International airports were open and garbage trucks moved through the streets picking up trash and storm debris,

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport was closed to major commercial traffic, but some small planes were landing, a spokeswoman said. Most local governments and courts were still closed.

Residents and engineers wondered at the damage Wilma's 100-mph (160-kph) winds did to windows in some of south Florida's glass towers -- even those built after building codes were strengthened after Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

A school board headquarters in Fort Lauderdale and hotels and banks in Miami's Brickell banking district were among the buildings whose windows were extensively damaged and showered glass on surrounding streets.

Herb Saffir, a Coral Gables structural engineer who helped develop the Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane intensity, told The Miami Herald he was "dumbfounded" by the window damage.

"Even if it had been the pre-Andrew code, I think those windows should have stayed in place," Saffir told the newspaper.

 

(Additional reporting by Michael Peltier in Tallahassee, Laura Myers in Key West, Michael Christie
and Jane Sutton in Miami and John Marquis in the Bahamas)

Long lines plague Wilma-ravaged Florida, R, 26.10.2005, http://today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=domesticNews&storyID=2005-10-26T173830Z_01_YUE662760_RTRUKOC_0_US-WEATHER-WILMA.xml

 

 

 

 

 

Florida

Millions in Florida Are Still Without Basics

 

October 26, 2005
The New York Times
By ABBY GOODNOUGH
and JOSEPH B. TREASTER

 

MIAMI, Oct. 25 - South Florida was a coast-to-coast mess on Tuesday as millions of people remained without power, huge lines formed for basic supplies and drivers wove through packed, debris-strewn streets with no traffic signals.

Despite Gov. Jeb Bush's assurances that recovery from Hurricane Wilma would proceed smoothly after lessons learned from seven previous storms, the government response looked frayed. In Broward and Miami-Dade Counties, people lined up for ice and water only to learn that government deliveries of both were late.

Many busy intersections had no police officers to guide impatient drivers. Schools and most businesses remained closed as dazed multitudes wandered in search of food, gasoline and cellphone reception. The one bit of luck was blissfully cool air, brought in by the storm, that made the lack of air-conditioning endurable.

A day after Hurricane Wilma struck, leaving at least six dead, power had been restored to several hundred thousand households and businesses by Tuesday evening. But 3.1 million still had no electricity, including about 93 percent of customers in Broward and Miami-Dade Counties. Eleven other counties also reported power failures, many of them widespread. Officials at Florida Power and Light said some customers might have to wait four weeks.

More than half of the shelters that opened for the storm had already closed on Tuesday, but about 50 still held more than 7,000 evacuees, state officials said.

There were scattered reports of looting, and dawn-to-dusk curfews remained in place throughout the region. Water pressure was low in many places, and residents were advised to boil what came out of their faucets, a hopeless proposition for the legions whose stoves and microwaves were dead.

President Bush, criticized for a slow response to Hurricane Katrina, planned to come to Florida on Thursday to inspect hurricane damage, the White House announced.

Especially frustrating for many people were the waits for ice and water at distribution points that opened hours later than promised, if at all. Mike DeLorenzo, chief of Florida's Emergency Response Team, said that traffic and debris prevented trucks from arriving on time.

At the Orange Bowl in downtown Miami, cars wrapped around the stadium and families waited hours to get their share.

"My mom is at home, she's bedridden and she needs her fluids," said Milagros Arocena, whose car barely advanced during the hour she had waited. "This line is incredible, but I don't know where else to go."

Deena Reppen, a spokeswoman for Governor Bush, said long lines and supply shortages were to be expected in the first 24 hours after a hurricane. "The state is working around the clock with local and federal partners to push more food, water and ice into the area," she said.

In Miami-Dade County, where only 6 of 11 ice and water stations opened around the promised time of 2 p.m., Mayor Carlos Alvarez promised that the rest would open by day's end and said that all things considered, the delay was not bad.

"Let me just say that it's been a logistical challenge," he said. "We are trying to make good on a very bad situation. Can we improve? Obviously."

Mr. Alvarez said that only 10 percent of the county's 2,600 traffic lights were working and that about 40 accidents, including 12 that were serious, had occurred as a result. He said that the county courts would be closed for the rest of the week but that the port would reopen to cruise ships and trucks on Wednesday.

Miami International Airport reopened for limited flights on Tuesday afternoon despite extensive damage to terminal roofs and jet bridges. Fort Lauderdale International Airport remained closed except to private aircraft.

Across the state in Naples, just north of where the hurricane made landfall early Monday, ice and water distribution appeared to be going more smoothly. At one station, members of several National Guard units were operating with assembly line precision. By 9 a.m., hundreds of cars, from Mercedes Benzes to jalopies, had lined up on a road leading into the parking lot of Barron Collier High School.

A National Guardsman in camouflage fatigues waved cars forward, and as each rolled up to a squad of soldiers, one sang out, "Pop the trunk." Other soldiers stepped forward with cartons of bottled water and plastic bags of ice, putting them in the car, tapping the trunk shut and motioning the driver on. Each delivery was over in seconds.

"We've done this so much over the last two or three years that we're getting pretty good at it," said Sgt. First Class Tim Harper of the 265th Air Defense Artillery of Sarasota.

The storm clogged the streets of Naples, one of the wealthiest cities in the country, with fallen shrubs and trees. But even as the wind was dying down Monday afternoon, yellow frontloaders were pushing and shoving and lifting away debris, and by Tuesday afternoon the main streets and most residential byways were clear.

Floodwater that had risen knee-high in some parts of Naples also was all but gone by Tuesday afternoon, as it was in Miami's downtown banking district. But the sleek high-rise buildings that line Miami's Brickell Avenue, home to some of Florida's largest banks, law firms and expensive hotels, looked shabby with many windows blown out, the glass shattered in the street below.

"It looks worse than it is," said Cesar Alvarez, chief executive and president of the law firm Greenberg Traurig, which lost windows in about a third of its lawyers' offices.

Schools throughout South Florida will stay closed for the rest of the week, officials said, and the Broward County Courthouse, a high-rise building that lost dozens of plate-glass windows in the storm, will not reopen for at least two weeks. Ceilings collapsed in judges' chambers, and the jury room, state attorney's office and public defender's office were also damaged, said Chief Judge Dale Ross.

One of the state's biggest businesses is growing ornamental plants and flowers and trees, but dozens of nurseries in the southwest Florida were battered by the storm. At the H. M. Buckley & Sons wholesale nursery in Naples, about half of the 40 workers turned up Tuesday to find the plastic and mesh covering ripped off many greenhouses. A few had been knocked down, and some sheds had been reduced to heaps of shredded lumber.

Tom Buckley, the general manager of the nursery and the fifth generation of his family in the business, said it could cost several hundred thousand dollars to restore things. Most of the property, he said, is so fragile it cannot be insured. The strain showed in his face.

"I knew what I was going to find when I checked this out on Monday," Mr. Buckley said. "I didn't necessarily expect the demolition of some of the houses. But five minutes later it was time to pick up the pieces and move forward. You just do what you've got to do."

Though police spokesmen warned of steep fines and multiple points on driver licenses for anyone who cruised through intersections, courtesy often failed in a region where drivers are less than civil even on normal days. Things were slightly more orderly at the few grocery stores that opened, where people wheeled carts through darkened aisles.

At a gas station in Plantation, near Fort Lauderdale, a dozen police officers kept order among hundreds of people carrying gas cans and a milelong line of vehicles. Dimitrios Halivel, the station's owner, who was limiting every customer to $20 worth of gas, said he was regretting his decision to open.

"There's too much pressure," Mr. Halivel said.

In the Florida Keys, many longtime residents who defied evacuation orders called Hurricane Wilma the most fearsome storm in memory. Areas normally high and dry during storms were under nearly four feet of water. The currents pushed saltwater through some of Key West's oldest and most expensive residential neighborhoods, and during high tide 70 percent of the island was underwater.

Many homes in the Lower Keys appeared uninhabitable, and thousands of vehicles were either destroyed or had their electrical systems crippled.

Yet power was restored on Tuesday to the old historic district and other parts of Key West and the Lower Keys, with an estimated 9,000 homes back on line by evening. Governor Bush visited Key West and went to the high school, a Red Cross staging area and shelter for those who lost their homes. He tried to appease fears that tourists would stay away from Florida because of the sizable damage.

"People are going to remember their memories here and want to come back," Mr. Bush said.

Abby Goodnough reported from Miami for this article, and Joseph B. Treaster from Naples. Neil Reisner contributed reporting from Fort Lauderdale, Terry Aguayo from Miami, Tim O'Hara from Key West and Joe Follick from Tallahassee.

Millions in Florida Are Still Without Basics,
NYT, 26.10.2005, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/26/national/nationalspecial/26wilma.html

 

 

 

 

 

Hurricane-weary Florida mops up

 

Tue Oct 25, 2005 9:42 AM ET
Reuters
By Jim Loney

 

MIAMI (Reuters) - Residents armed with chain saws and brooms and an army of electrical repair crews on Tuesday attacked the shambles left behind by Hurricane Wilma's rampage through Florida, where 6 million people were without power.

Wilma, at one time the most intense hurricane on record in the Atlantic basin, killed at least four people in Florida on Monday after a devastating trek through the Caribbean that killed at least ten in Haiti and seven in Mexico.

A powerful Category 3 storm with 125 mph (200 kph) winds when it struck southwest Florida early on Monday, Wilma was the eighth hurricane to hit the state in 15 months, an unprecedented assault by nature that left Floridians reeling.

"Really, really tired of this. This is the third time I've been without power (this year), first Katrina, then Rita, now this," said Miamian Joe Fraghatti, 30, who spent an hour on Tuesday morning in a fruitless search for gasoline. "I'm definitely thinking of moving west."

By 5 a.m. (0900 GMT) on Tuesday, Wilma's top winds had fallen to 115 mph (185 kph) as the storm sped northeast over the Atlantic at 53 mph (85 kph), the U.S. National Hurricane Center said. It was 310 miles east of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina was expected to be off the Canadian Maritimes by early Wednesday, bringing wind and rain to the Northeast.

The 2005 hurricane season, fueled by warmer-than-usual sea temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean, has been a record-breaker, with 22 tropical storms or hurricanes, besting the mark of 21 set in 1933.

Hurricane Katrina, which burst the levees protecting New Orleans in late August and flooded the city, causing more than $30 billion in damage and likely becoming the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history.

Risk analysts have estimated Wilma's damage in Florida at up to $10 billion.

 

NO LIGHTS, AIR CONDITIONING

The roar of chain saws ripped through the streets as Floridians cleaned up, stretching blue tarps over damaged roofs, dicing fallen trees and sweeping debris into piles at roadsides. They were heartened by a cold front that descended overnight, making it easier to cope without air conditioning after a steamy Florida summer.

"We're so lucky it's cool," said Fraghatti.

The storm left most of the 5 million people in Florida's most populous region, the metropolitan area of Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, without lights, air conditioning and refrigeration.

Florida Power & Light, the state's major utility, said it had a work force of 5,100 replacing blown-out transformers and restringing miles of power lines brought down by the hurricane, which cut a swath across Florida from Naples on the southwest coast to West Palm Beach on the east.

By early Tuesday, power to 251,000 customers had been restored and 2.98 million customers were without electricity, the utility said. It could be four weeks before power is restored. One customer is said to represent two people.

South Florida's major airports in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach were closed, a blow to the state's $57-billion-a-year tourism industry.

 

SCRAMBLING TO FIND FOOD

Emergency officials said they were scrambling to find food and tarps as the state emptied its warehouses to provide for victims. Search, rescue and recovery teams streamed into storm-ravaged areas from Naples to West Palm Beach.

"Meals continue to be a problem," state logistics chief Chuck Hagan said at a briefing on Tuesday. "All the food we had in the state ... will be pushed out today and we presently do not have any meals in reserve."

Wilma swamped the low-lying Florida Keys, surprising the estimated 90 percent of residents who ignored evacuation orders and decided to stay. The tourist island Key West was inundated with hip-high water, forcing officials to postpone this week's annual Fantasy Fest, a Halloween costume celebration that normally draws thousands of tourists.

The storm went on to flood largely uninhabited areas of the southwest coast and raced across the state to greater Miami, where it shattered windows in office towers, littered streets with debris and sunk boats in Biscayne Bay.

NASA said its Kennedy Space Center on Florida's east coast would remain closed until inspections were completed. Some buildings were damaged. The center is the launch and landing port for the U.S. space agency's space shuttle fleet, which is grounded for repairs.

Before hitting Florida, Wilma devastated the tourist resort of Cancun, Mexico, over the weekend. It killed seven people in Mexico and triggered mudslides that killed 10 people last week in Haiti.

The storm also pounded Cuba, paralyzing Havana and flooding coastal neighborhoods with 86-mph (138-kph) winds.

Forecasters said Wilma was the strongest storm to hit the Miami area since August 1992, when Hurricane Andrew caused more than $25 billion in damage.

The 2005 Atlantic hurricane season, which does not end until November 30, has spawned three of the most intense Atlantic storms on record: Katrina devastated New Orleans in August and killed 1,200, Rita hit the Texas-Louisiana border a few weeks later, and Wilma at one point boasted the lowest barometric pressure reading ever observed in the Atlantic basin.

 

(Additional reporting by Anthony Boadle in Havana, Michael Peltier in Tallahassee, Laura Myers in Key West, Jane Sutton and Michael Christie in Miami)

Hurricane-weary Florida mops up, R, 25.10.2005, http://today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=topNews&storyID=2005-10-25T133928Z_01_MOR420788_RTRUKOC_0_US-WEATHER-WILMA.xml

 

 

 

 

 

Hurricane Rips Across Florida,

Killing at Least 7

 

October 25, 2005
The New York Times
By ABBY GOODNOUGH

 

NAPLES, Fla., Oct. 24 - Hurricane Wilma charged across South Florida in a few turbulent hours Monday morning, thrashing neighborhoods on both of the state's coasts, shattering high-rise windows, pushing seawater over much of the Florida Keys and knocking out power to an estimated 3.4 million homes and businesses.

The storm entered the state shortly after dawn near Marco Island on the southwest Gulf Coast as a Category 3 hurricane packing winds of up to 125 miles per hour. Soon, it was traveling at the rapid clip of 25 m.p.h.

It carved a wide path northeast, roiling the Miami and Fort Lauderdale region and finally, seven hours later, roaring into the Atlantic Ocean near West Palm Beach, still a Category 2 storm with winds of 105 m.p.h.

Most of the populated areas on the Gulf Coast were on the northern side of the storm, where conditions were less brutal. But they still saw widespread flooding, crumpled mobile homes, airborne roofs and countless downed trees. Early damage estimates were at least $2 billion.

Fort Lauderdale and several other cities ordered residents to boil their tap water. In Miami, the winds shattered skyscraper windows, leaving a coating of glass shards along Brickell Avenue downtown.

At least seven people were reported killed in the state. One man was killed in Coral Springs, near Fort Lauderdale, when a tree fell on him. In Palm Beach County, the police said two people were killed but they declined to say how; The Associated Press said one man died when an accident involving debris hurled him through his windshield as he approached his car.

A woman from St. Johns County died in a car crash while evacuating, and a woman from Boynton Beach was killed when a glass door fell on her.

In Collier County, a man was killed when his roof fell in, and another died of a heart attack while trying to walk through the storm.

One woman, two months pregnant, miscarried after seeking refuge in a Red Cross shelter.

Earlier, the storm left at least six people dead in Mexico and 13 in Jamaica and Haiti.

As residents of Florida emerged to assess the damage, Gov. Jeb Bush said the state, which had days to prepare as the storm stalled over the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico, had everything it needed to start recovering.

"We've got a response team that is second to none," Governor Bush said in a Tallahassee news conference. "We will get through this storm and respond quickly."

R. David Paulison, acting director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said that since President Bush had declared the hurricane a major disaster, the agency would immediately begin distributing grants for temporary housing, home repairs and other storm-related expenses.

Search and rescue teams had already been sent to Collier County in far southwestern Florida, where Hurricane Wilma entered the state, and would soon move into neighboring Lee County, Mr. Paulison said. Power was being restored in Collier County on Monday evening.

"Yes, we're tired of hurricanes," Mr. Paulison said. "But we are prepared."

At the height of the hurricane, the state's eighth in 15 months, an estimated 33,000 people had sought refuge in more than 120 shelters throughout the state, officials said.

Governor Bush said that 3,100 National Guard members had been deployed in the affected areas and that another 3,500 were standing by. He also said 4,000 Florida utility workers were ready to start restoring electricity, as were 6,500 from other states.

Hurricane Wilma also caused heavy flooding in Cuba as it made its way across the Gulf of Mexico toward Florida. Several low-lying neighborhoods had to be evacuated in Havana, where waves poured over the Malecon, the historic waterfront promenade, and inundated streets.

The storm's rapid pace across Florida meant that there was less rainfall, with only 8 inches falling on Miami and 6.5 inches in Naples, a fraction of what soaked Yucatán.

In Key West, at the far southern end of the chain of islands connected to the mainland by narrow causeways, officials said as many as 90 percent of the residents had ignored evacuation orders. It made for a tense morning, as the sea rushed into many sections of the island, pouring into homes and submerging vehicles.

In Everglades City, a village of about 700 fishermen and tourist-boat operators in far southwestern Florida, a storm surge flooded streets and yards with up to four feet of water. But because most houses were built on stilts or mounds of earth, the damage was limited.

Mayor Sammy Hamilton Jr. said that the cost of the damage would run into the millions but that the city would probably recovery quickly.

"Our city, in a month's time, will look like new," Mr. Hamilton said. "But it's going to be a lot of hard work and a lot of money."

By late afternoon, much of the floodwater had receded in Everglades City. But trees were shredded and knocked down all over town. The aluminum roof of a small sightseeing boat had been crumpled and a flat-bottom skiff had been tossed up on the dock nearby. Long stretches of a dock running along the Barron River were torn up, and a few power poles were knocked askew, wires dangling from them.

Many people evacuated from Everglades City before the hurricane. But some who remained said the storm was the worst since Hurricane Donna in 1960.

"It was as bad as I want to go through," said Bob Wells, who owns a local real estate agency.

It was unnerving, Mr. Wells said, "being stuck in your house with the wind howling fiercely, trees going down and you knowing the water is rising."

In Naples, 55 miles north of Everglades City, the storm did not do a great deal of damage to buildings, although uprooted trees were in a jumble throughout the city, and repair costs were expected to run into the tens of millions of dollars.

A few blocks away, Kathleen Cantera said she was preparing to evacuate her children and her jewelry to Orlando, where she hoped they would find electricity. Her gold-colored stucco house with wrought-iron gates was dry for now, but the street out front was becoming more flooded.

"It was the worst I've ever been through," Ms. Cantera said.

On Marco Island, south of Naples, officials estimated that 30 percent of the homes had roof damage.

In Fort Myers Beach, farther north on the Gulf Coast, Mayor Bill Van Duzer said he was mostly pleased with the way his area had weathered the hurricane.

"There's a certain amount of damage," he said, "but the sewers are operational, the water's operational, the roads are clear."

Mr. Paulison of FEMA said many mobile homes were destroyed in rural Glades County, which borders Lake Okeechobee, in the middle of South Florida.

Carl Fowler, a spokesman for the Broward County Emergency Operations Center, said the damage there, on the Atlantic Coast, was the worst from a hurricane since the 1950's.

Mobile homes were particularly hard hit, and two tall buildings housing the county courthouse and school board saw many of their plate-glass windows shattered.

In Miami-Dade County, where about one million customers lost power, downed trees and wires made driving impossible. A main thoroughfare in downtown Miami flooded, and windows were blown out of high-rises. Miami International Airport had damage to its gates and had only one runway open for emergencies.

In North Bay Village, north of Miami Beach, several sailboats that had not been tied down were thrown onto small islands, as were satellite television antennas and tree limbs. Lampposts, pieces of wood and bits of power transformers floated in Biscayne Bay. At the Gator Racquet Club, a community of houseboats, 10 of the 36 boats were lost.

Bill Bates, who lost the two-story boat he had lived on for nine years, tried to find a bright side.

"There is a sense of freedom that comes with this," Mr. Bates said. "We are not tied down here for any reason now."

Reporting for this article was contributed by Terry Aguayo and Geannina Munizaga from Miami; Lloyd Dunkelberger from Tallahassee, Fla.; Joanna Hogan from Fort Myers, Fla.; Kelli Kennedy from Pompano Beach, Fla.; Rick Lyman from Immokalee, Fla.; Neil Reisner from Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Joseph B. Treaster from Everglades City, Fla.; and Andrea Zarate from North Bay Village, Fla.

Hurricane Rips Across Florida, Killing at Least 7, 25.10.2005, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/25/national/25wilma.html

 

 

 

 

 

A Trail of Ruin

as Storm Churns Toward Florida

 

October 24, 2005
The New York Times
By JOSEPH B. TREASTER,
ABBY GOODNOUGH
and JAMES C. McKINLEY Jr.

 

NAPLES, Fla., Oct. 23 - Hurricane Wilma churned toward heavily populated southwestern Florida and the Florida Keys on Sunday evening after pounding the Yucatán Coast of Mexico, still a major storm, with winds of more than 110 miles per hour and the power to generate devastating flooding.

The leading edge of the hurricane was expected to strike the Gulf Coast of Florida shortly after midnight as a Category 3 storm, with the eye moving ashore near dawn. Winds of up to 70 m.p.h. were forecast as far north as Tampa.

Tornadoes were reported Sunday night on the Atlantic Coast north of Lake Okeechobee and near Melbourne and Cocoa Beach.

The storm was expected to rapidly move northeast across the state, reaching the Atlantic Ocean east of Lake Okeechobee, near where Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne made landfall last year.

As hundreds of thousands of people prepared for Hurricane Wilma, another tropical system dumped torrential rain on Haiti and the Dominican Republic on Sunday. The Associated Press reported that at least one person was killed in Haiti.

Tropical Storm Alpha was the 22nd named system in the Atlantic Ocean this season, breaking the record set in 1933 and forcing weather officials to turn to the Greek alphabet for a name. The storm, which was downgraded to a tropical depression later Sunday, also made this hurricane season the most active since officials began keeping records 150 years ago.

In its wake, Hurricane Wilma left the Yucatán Coast a wreck, devastating the international airport, eroding beaches and severely damaging dozens of huge resort hotels, robbing tens of thousands of Mexicans of their livelihoods.

With food scarce and few businesses open, looting broke out as soon as the storm passed.

"It's so sad," said Oscar Kury, a manufacturer of uniforms for hotel workers, as he surveyed the damaged discos, bars, restaurants and hotels along Cancún's famous tourist strip. "It's going to take a year to rebuild this."

Residents and tourists emerged from shelters and homes after 60 hours of howling wind and rain to find Cancún transformed from a Caribbean playground to a tangled maze of flooded streets, downed power lines, toppled signs and broken glass.

At daylight, looters broke into stores, carrying off food, televisions and computers, among other things. The police made arrests, but they were stretched too thin to stop the stealing. Officers also discovered three bodies, apparently those of homeless people.

Some of the 20,000 tourists who weathered the storm in schools, cultural centers and small downtown hotels began to get desperate after a third day of eating little more than tuna fish and crackers. Most had left luggage at the resorts and were not allowed to retrieve their belongings.

In Playa del Carmen, just south of Cancún, several inmates fled a prison when a wall collapsed.

Flooding severed Isla Mujeres, a 4.2-mile-long island off Cancún, into three parts, and it remained cut off from the mainland. There were still no reports of how its 10,000 inhabitants fared, said Gov. Félix González Canto of Quintana Roo province.

As Wilma turned toward southwestern Florida, tens of thousands of residents fled. The storm lost strength as it crossed land, but regained Category 3 strength as it crossed the Gulf.

In Collier County, which includes Naples and is one of the nation's fastest-growing regions with about 300,000 residents, officials estimated that more than 80 percent of the population had evacuated and that more people were still leaving as evening approached.

Gov. Jeb Bush said he was especially concerned about residents of the Keys, the majority of whom were ignoring mandatory evacuation orders.

"I cannot emphasize enough to the folks that live in the Florida Keys: a hurricane is coming," Mr. Bush said in Tallahassee on Sunday. "Perhaps people are saying, 'I'm going to hunker down.' They shouldn't do that. They should evacuate, and there's very little time left to do so."

Ben Nelson, the state meteorologist, said the storm would likely maintain hurricane strength as it crossed Florida, possibly bringing winds of more than 100 m.p.h. to the heavily populated counties of Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade. Because of the storm's sprawling size, strong winds could affect almost all areas south of Orlando, Mr. Nelson said.

Across the state, local officials said they were well prepared for the storm, having learned ample lessons from the seven other hurricanes to hit Florida in the last 14 months and from the recent troubles after Hurricane Katrina.

Governor Bush said gasoline remained abundant along evacuation routes and that much more, at least 220 million gallons, was waiting at the state's ports.

An additional 131 million gallons are scheduled to arrive on 29 ships over the next few days, said Mr. Bush, whose state experienced such serious gas shortages during last year's hurricanes that many drivers were stranded along highways. On an average day, Floridians consume about 23 million gallons of fuel.

About 2,400 Florida National Guard troops were activated for duties including traffic management and search-and-recovery efforts, Mr. Bush said. An additional 3,000 troops are on standby.

Mr. Bush said search-and-recovery teams, with hovercraft, boats and nearly three dozen Chinook and Blackhawk helicopters, were ready to enter the Keys if roads were impassable. Officials in Collier County put teams with airboats and swamp buggies at several staging areas.

More than 200 truckloads of ice, 200 truckloads of water and 86,000 meals were waiting in Jacksonville and at Homestead Air Force Base, south of Miami. And nearly 7,000 utility workers with more than 3,000 trucks were poised to restore power to homes and businesses, hundreds of thousands of which could be affected by the storm.

At a concrete bunker on the edge of Naples, Dan E. Summers, the director of emergency management for Collier County, took a nap on Sunday afternoon, expecting a long night with Hurricane Wilma. "We're very well prepared," he said.

At the crowded Tin City Docks in downtown, boat owners were stripping radar and communications gear from their craft, tightening their lines and hoping for the best, though they acknowledged a substantial storm surge was likely to devastate the marina.

Throughout the city, Parks Department workers in small dump trucks with flashing lights were scooping up tree limbs, lids for garbage cans and other debris from the streets. "You don't want any missiles flying around," Steve Madsen said as he paused his truck in the Old Town section of Naples.

People in Florida have been following the progress of Hurricane Wilma since last Wednesday, when its winds reached 175 m.p.h. and the National Hurricane Center in Miami declared it the most powerful Atlantic hurricane ever. Residents gassed up their cars and laid in supplies, and they waited. Many decided to head north to hotels and homes of relatives and friends. Others temporized to see whether the hurricane would actually head toward them.

"Wilma has been tormenting us all week," said John Turner, 49, a real estate broker, as he stood on the beach watching the gulf boil up on Sunday afternoon. Two people were swimming and a half-dozen young men were trying to surf in the still fairly flat seas.

In the Yucatán on Sunday, the scene was far from placid.

On the 17-mile-long barrier island that is home to Cancún's resort hotels, the damage was extensive. In most places, the beaches were stripped of their famous white sand, leaving nothing but limestone rocks.

Almost every hotel suffered broken windows, smashed signs and fallen glass walls. Some had structural damage, with rooms and balconies facing the ocean ripped away. Several lobbies were gutted by the swirling storm surge.

At the Park Royal Hotel, the banquet room was reduced to a sea of glass and twisted aluminum studs. The winds destroyed the seaside restaurant, and the waves reduced the beach to a rocky slope, studded with the remains of thatched beach umbrellas.

Carlos Rangel Castelazo, 63, drove his pickup truck through the floods to see what was left of his marina on the lagoon side of the island, where he rents out powerboats. "It's gone," he said. "Completely submerged."

"I think the intention of everyone is to try to rebuild something for the high season of December," he said. "But it's very little time."

On Sunday afternoon, the government seemed overwhelmed with the task of clearing roads and getting food to evacuees. Many neighborhoods in the northern part of Cancún were still flooded, and marines were busy ferrying food to temporary shelters. The Mexican army brought in bulldozers and backhoes to clear the main coastal highway from Cancún to Chetumal, the province capital.

Government officials were making no predictions about when electricity would be restored or the airport would be reopened.

President Vicente Fox surveyed the damage in Cancún by helicopter on Sunday afternoon, but several trucks of relief aid promised by the federal government had yet to arrive from Mérida, the closest city. The highway was jammed with cars fleeing the area, witnesses said.

When he arrived in Chetumal, Mr. Fox pledged $1.1 billion to begin reconstruction.

"Right now, we should worry about lives, worry about families' safety in shelters, worry that they are fine in a shelter, worry that the shelters are well-supplied, and after that we will go into material things," he said.

But mindful of the region's importance to Mexico's tourism industry, Mr. Fox added, "Our greatest worry is restoring tourism to its full operation quickly."

Joseph B. Treaster and Abby Goodnough reported from Naples, Fla., for this article; and James C. McKinley Jr. from Cancún, Mexico. Tim O'Hara contributed reporting from Key West, Fla.; Joe Follick from Tallahassee; and Joanna Hogan from Fort Myers.

A Trail of Ruin as Storm Churns Toward Florida, NYT, 24.10.2005, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/24/national/nationalspecial/24wilma.html

 

 

 

 

 

Coast of Mexico

Takes Thrashing as Storm Stalls

 

October 23, 2005
The New York Times
By ROBERT D. McFADDEN

 

Hurricane Wilma stalled over the Yucatán Peninsula yesterday, pounding the Mexican beach cities of Cancún and Playa del Carmen and stranding tens of thousands of tourists in hot, leaky shelters while a maelstrom of howling winds, uprooted trees and hurtling debris raged on all sides.

Forecasters said the slow-moving tempest would probably hit Florida early tomorrow, perhaps with diminished force. But with haunting images of Hurricane Katrina still lurking, thousands of Floridians and state officials were taking no chances.

Gov. Jeb Bush and local officials ordered mandatory evacuations, starting with 80,000 residents of the vulnerable Florida Keys, linked to the mainland by a single road, and of Naples and Marco Island on the southwest coast. The streets of Key West were nearly deserted by midday. Residents of Florida's west coast, meantime, got out, or - playing a dangerous waiting game - gathered supplies and boarded up. Traffic jams backed up on highways, and scattered gasoline shortages were reported. [Page 17.]

In the Yucatán, at least four deaths were reported, two in a gas tank explosion in Playa del Carmen and those of a woman electrocuted in Cancún and a 69-year-old man killed by falling branches in a neighboring state. The number of injuries in Mexico was unknown, as was the extent of property damage, but it was widespread and expected to run into many millions.

Five homes were destroyed and 1,000 others were damaged in Playa del Carmen. In Cancún, 50 hotels and hundreds of homes were damaged, public buildings were crumbling, windows were shattered and a coast known as a tourists' playground overlooking a turquoise sea was transformed into a vast region of danger and destruction.

The storm also washed out roads in mudslides and devastated countless shacks and jungle cabins that are home to the Yucatán's impoverished people, tens of thousands whose lives are largely hidden from the tourists behind the facades of the high-rise hotels and the postcard-perfect, white-sand beaches. The numbers in these backcountry slums have been swollen by the migration of poor Mexicans seeking work in the booming tourist industry, centered on the Mayan ruins and the pristine beach resorts.

Five hundred miles across, packing winds of 140 miles an hour, the hurricane slammed into the Mexican mainland late Friday as a Category 4 storm about seven hours after its eye rumbled over the island of Cozumel, a cruise-ship port 11 miles offshore.

While the storm lost power slightly, becoming a Category 3 storm by midmorning and a Category 2 storm by afternoon, with sustained winds down to 110 m.p.h., its power remained awesome as it came to a standstill over the Yucatán, where it was expected to remain for two days.

That prolonged the misery of hundreds of thousands of residents of the Yucatán and 30,000 tourists riding out the storm in shelters with little food and water. But it gave a reprieve to southern Florida, where the hurricane was expected to hit next. Mandatory evacuation orders were issued for the Florida Keys and Collier County in southwest Florida yesterday, although thousands had already left.

By dawn yesterday, huge waves were crashing over the narrow strip of beachfront at Cancún. At the Xbalamqué Hotel, one of a number of resorts that had been turned into shelters, terrified tourists and local residents huddled as windows were blown in and the building shook.

"I never in my life wanted to live through something like this," Guadalupe Santiago, 27, a cook, told The Associated Press. "There are no words to describe it."

Outside, cars were crushed under fallen trees, the air was filled with a debris of broken furniture, metal sheets of roofing and pieces of buildings that were coming apart. Pay phones jutted up from waist-deep floodwaters and beachside tiki huts had been washed away.

In some sections of Cancún's beachfront hotel district, which lies between the ocean and a lagoon, the floodwaters were more than six feet deep. One shelter in downtown Cancún had to evacuate 1,000 people overnight because its ceiling appeared ready to collapse. Five prisoners were reported to have escaped from a jail when a fence blew down. Isolated looting and a dozen arrests of suspected looters were reported in Cancún, a metropolitan area of 700,000 people.

Relief was on the way, officials said. Two Mexican Air Force planes brought in the first emergency supplies, but were forced to land in the state capital, Chetumal, 200 miles south of Cancún. It was unclear how long it would take to move the supplies to the stricken areas along roads disrupted by mudslides.

Offshore, on the tourist haven of Isla Mujeres, more than five feet of rain was reported to have fallen in 24 hours.

Moisés Ramirez, the civil defense coordinator of Playa del Carmen, a resort popular with European and American tourists, said his community had been devastated. "Playa is destroyed," he told Agence France-Presse.

The Mexican government, whose resources had already been stretched thin by the heavy damage of Hurricane Stan in the neighboring state of Chiapas earlier in the month, said the navy was sending six helicopters and four amphibious vehicles, along with 600 troops, a dozen mobile drinking water plants and 50 emergency power generators.

At 2 p.m. yesterday, the hurricane's eye was inland over northeastern Yucatán about 10 miles southwest of Cancún and about 400 miles southeast of Key West, Fla.

Some residents ventured out briefly to survey a flooded landscape littered with floating office furniture, broken boards, painted signs, roofing shingles and other debris sloshing around fallen tree trunks, downed power lines, drowned cars and shattered storefronts. Others waded through the foul-smelling water in search of relatives or shelter.

Raúl Rivera Placios, director of emergency administration for Mexico's interior ministry, said that more than 72,000 people had been evacuated from Quintana Roo and Yucatán States before the hurricane hit Mexico. But tens of thousands of tourists and residents found themselves sleeping on the floors of hotel ballrooms, schools and gymnasiums, reeking of sweat because there was no power for air-conditioning. Power was cut off to most of the region as a precaution against fire. Telephone service was also cut off.

Hotels being used as shelters pushed furniture up against windows, but shrieking winds blasted through the barriers and water poured in through broken windows.

Cancún's Red Cross director, Ricardo Portugal, said 11 pregnant women had gone into early labor and had to be ferried to hospitals.

The hurricane, which had killed 13 people in Haiti and Jamaica, was expected to drift northeastward over the weekend, sideswiping Cuba before bearing down on Florida. Cuba braced for coastal storm surges and flooding and evacuated more than 550,000 people, including 425,000 from the island's western side.

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Alpha formed yesterday in the Caribbean Sea, The Associated Press reported, setting the record for the most number of storms in an Atlantic hurricane season.

Alpha is the season's 22nd tropical storm and marks the first time a letter from the Greek alphabet has been used because the list of storm names is used up. The previous record of 21 storms was set in 1933.

At 8 p.m. yesterday, Alpha had sustained winds of about 40 mph. It was centered about 70 miles south of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, and moving northwest at about 15 m.p.h., forecasters said.

 

James C. McKinley Jr. contributed reporting from Cancún, Mexico, for this article, and Elisabeth Malkin from Mexico City.

Coast of Mexico Takes Thrashing as Storm Stalls, NYT, 23.10.2005, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/23/international/americas/23mexico.html

 

 

 

 

 


The Shelters

In Florida,

Schools Take in Early Arrivals

in the Storm's Path

 

October 23, 2005
The New York Times
By JOSEPH B. TREASTER

 

FORT MYERS, Fla., Oct. 22 - Shortly after noon on Saturday, Joseph Giama, a retired mechanic from Lodi, N.J., rolled quietly into a big new elementary school here in his electric wheelchair, one of the first of thousands of people expected to move into public shelters ahead of the approaching Hurricane Wilma.

No one knew exactly where the storm was heading as it moved on from the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico, but meteorologists were expecting it to turn toward the Gulf Coast of Florida and begin battering the state sometime Monday.

The shelter at Ray V. Pottorf Elementary School here, set up for people with special health needs, was the first to open on the Gulf Coast of Florida. Shelters were also being opened in Miami-Dade County on the East Coast of the state to accommodate residents evacuating the Florida Keys.

Most of the shelters are public schools, but at least one Y.M.C.A. and some churches are being used. Should the power fail, the shelters have generators and are well stocked with food, water and blankets, but they are generally no-frills operations.

"We open them if you can't find a hotel or a motel or you can't find friends or relatives to stay with," said John D. Wilson, the public safety director for Lee County and the commander of its emergency operations for the hurricane.

Officials here issued a mandatory evacuation order for much of Lee County on Saturday.

"In essence, we're telling you rather than asking you," said Booch DeMarchi, a spokesman for the office of emergency management in Lee County. "By law, law enforcement is legally entitled to take you out of your home. But that is not going to happen. In reality, we're telling people, 'If you're going to defy the mandatory evacuation order, good luck.' "

Collier County officials ordered residents in low-lying areas to evacuate on Friday, and on Saturday the authorities said they were imposing a 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew, beginning Sunday.

After watching storm victims in New Orleans on television and reading newspaper accounts in which they said they would have taken shelter from Hurricane Katrina before it devastated the city at the end of August, officials here decided to send out several buses to ferry anyone who needed a ride to a shelter. In addition, Mr. DeMarchi said, the 30 or so regularly scheduled city buses are taking those seeking shelter to collection points where shuttles are being run.

By midafternoon at the Pottorf shelter, Mr. Giama, who is 87, and about 40 others had been assigned to groups of about a dozen aluminum cots in brightly lighted new classrooms, each with its own bathroom.

For a late lunch, Mr. Giama went to the school's big, sunny cafeteria and got a plate of pizza, apple cobbler, tater tots and a side of peas and carrots.

Steven A. Fettner, the disaster preparedness and response coordinator for Lee County, said the school could accommodate about 150 people. Altogether, officials said, Lee County was prepared to shelter more than 35,000 people.

Mr. Giama, in khaki shorts and a beige T-shirt, said he had lived alone in a pair of connected mobile homes in the northern part of Fort Myers since his wife, Marge, died seven years ago. He suffered a stroke and had difficulty walking.

Mr. Giama stayed in his mobile home last year as Hurricane Charley brushed Fort Myers. "It was pretty tough," he said.

Like the others at the Pottorf shelter, he had registered months ago with the county and buses rolled out to pick him up on Saturday.

"I got no place to go," he said. "They say, 'Stay in a mobile home and you'll kill yourself.' "

In Florida, Schools Take in Early Arrivals in the Storm's Path, NYT, 23.10.2005, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/23/national/nationalspecial/23shelters.html

 

 

 

 

 

Key West fights boredom

as Wilma bears down

 

Sat Oct 22, 2005 7:52 PM ET
Reuters
By Laura Myers

 

KEY WEST, Florida (Reuters) - Instead of fleeing, many hurricane-fatigued residents of the Florida Keys on Saturday went on an "Evacuation Pub Crawl." Instead of boarding up homes, others hammered away at "Fantasy Fest" floats.

The authorities in the low-lying and vulnerable Florida Keys urged people to take Hurricane Wilma seriously as the storm, at one point the fiercest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic, pounded Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula and appeared likely to set a course for Florida.

But, after days and days of waiting for Wilma, many in the town of Key West at the southernmost tip of the United States seemed to be ignoring the advice or waiting to find out more definitively how close the storm would come.

"We'll stop anywhere they'll let us in," said drag queen bar co-owner Jim Gilleran, handing out beads as costumed revelers gathered at the Hog's Breath Saloon to march up Duval Street and hoist a few cocktails.

Gilleran also handed out copies of an "Hurricane Wilma Evacuate Song," with the words "Evacuate, Evacuate. It Ain't Time to Procrastinate!"

Restaurateur Amy Culver-Aversa said the pub crawl would "alleviate some of the tension. We're super-prepared and we know the drill."

 

MANDATORY ORDER

At one stop along the way, bar and strip club owner Mark Rossi, a city commissioner, estimated only a quarter of the town's 26,000 residents had evacuated by mid-Saturday, when a mandatory evacuation order went into force.

"A lot of people don't have the money to leave. If you leave Key West, it's at least $250 a day. My people are the working people," he said.

Across town, friends David Hutchinson, a boat captain, and David Richard, owner of an adventure outfitting company, hammered away at a float for Key West's annual Fantasy Fest. The 10-day extravaganza is slated to kick off on Tuesday as a Wilma-delayed five-day celebration.

"We decided it was our duty as citizens to carry on," said Hutchinson.

The authorities say they are ready for Wilma.

Newly-elected Mayor Morgan McPherson offered advice for those opting to stay.

"Batten down the hatches and be prepared. All I can say is, 'Good luck,'" he said.

Max Mayfield, director of the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami, said the center's best guess was that Wilma would come ashore on Monday on Florida's southwest Gulf Coast, well to the north of Key West.

But he cautioned that Wilma could be stronger than expected, and would also affect a very large area.

"I can assure you that a strong Category 2, a possible Category 3, will have a major impact on our state of Florida," Mayfield said, referring to the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale used to measure hurricane intensity.

Key West fights boredom as Wilma bears down, R, 22.10.2005, http://today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=domesticNews&storyID=2005-10-22T235150Z_01_SCH285561_RTRUKOC_0_US-WEATHER-WILMA-KEYWEST.xml

 

 

 

 

 

Preparations

Some Old-Timers

Are Planning to Wait Out the Storm

 

October 22, 2005
The New York Times
By JOSEPH B. TREASTER

 

EVERGLADES CITY, Fla., Oct. 21 - They build their houses on stilts here on the edge of the Gulf of Mexico and the Everglades, and a lot of the old-timers figure they can withstand just about any kind of wind or flooding.

Mayor Sammy Hamilton Jr. and officials of Collier County want everyone to evacuate as Hurricane Wilma bears down on this village of about 700 and other parts of Florida's Gulf Coast. Many of those in mobile homes and seasonal residents have already left, Mr. Hamilton said.

But it is another story when it comes to people who were born and raised here, many of whom have made their living for decades as fishermen and tour guides on boats that snake through bushy mangrove channels filled with osprey, blue heron, alligators and wild boar.

"I'm going to get everything that will blow away nailed down and get in the house and stay there," said Bob Wells, the owner of a real estate agency here, whose house sits 9 to 10 feet above ground on wood pilings.

Mr. Hamilton, who wears jeans and shoulder-length dark hair and has been mayor for 12 years, said he was going to go around town Saturday morning to try to persuade people to take shelter elsewhere.

"But, honestly," he said, "I believe a lot of them are going to stay. The old-timers feel like they've been through it all."

The mayor himself is planning to stay. His three-story house sits on the edge of the Barron River, looking over lush mangroves stretching toward the Ten Thousand Islands section of the Gulf of Mexico, not far from the southern tip of Florida.

But the house is "built better than a bomb shelter," Mr. Hamilton said Friday in his office in the white-columned City Hall, flanked by royal palms and pink hibiscus hedges.

As Mr. Hamilton spoke, a light rain was falling and Hurricane Wilma was hitting the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico with 140-mile-an-hour winds. Forecasters said the storm would probably hit Florida early next week, but they were unsure which day.

The mayor, a former fisherman who now runs a tour boat company and turns on an Elvis Presley tape every time he gets into his car, said he figured it was his duty to stay. "I need to be able to report back to the county what's going on," Mr. Hamilton said.

No, he said, he did not think he was setting a bad example by failing to heed his own advice and get out of town. He had things to do, he said. He is coordinating with county officials to send the three fire engines stationed in Everglades City to places where they will not be flooded, and on Saturday morning he has buses coming to pick up sick and elderly residents and anyone else who wants a ride to a hurricane shelter.

"We're well prepared," Mr. Hamilton said. "We can't take it easy, because we're at sea level. We could get 16 to 18 feet of water. We can take a little wind, but we can't handle the water."

Everglades City has been lucky with hurricanes. The last big one, Hurricane Donna in 1960, buried the town under 12 feet of water. But no one died and most of the houses survived, Mr. Hamilton said. He was 19 then. He and his family took shelter in City Hall.

"Me and another guy swam to the supermarket to get food," he said.

Along one of the town's waterways, Travis Goff, in graying beard and a khaki shirt, was butchering a wild hog. Mr. Goff runs a 40-foot pontoon tour boat. If he left, he said, it would be at the last minute. "We've got lots of boats and equipment," he said. "The more you move, the more you've got to bring back."

Gary Miller, 61, and Mark Anderson, 50, two retired fishermen, stopped by with a big bottle of cola and some plastic foam cups. They live in a motor home. "We're leaving," Mr. Miller said.

Mr. Wells, the real estate agency owner, was a teenager when Hurricane Donna filled his family's home with three feet of water. "I've never left" when a storm is coming, he said.

"Of course it's dangerous," Mr. Wells said. "But these people's granddaddies came down here 100 years ago." Their lives were filled with risk, he said. "If they stepped on a nail, it meant their life. They've seen storms come and go. This is their home. You live in New York. I think that's pretty dangerous. Why don't you leave?"

Some Old-Timers Are Planning to Wait Out the Storm, NYT, 22.10.2005, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/22/national/nationalspecial/22wilma.html

 

 

 

 

 

Hurricane Wilma

batters Mexico's Caribbean resorts

 

Fri Oct 21, 2005 9:50 PM ET
Reuters
By Greg Brosnan

 

PLAYA DEL CARMEN, Mexico (Reuters) - Hurricane Wilma slammed into Mexico's Caribbean beach resorts on Friday with screaming winds that knocked over houses, upturned trees and trapped thousands of tourists in cramped shelters.

Metal sheets flew off the roofs of homes and spun dangerously like frisbees down the street in Playa del Carmen where the town hall lay broken, with windows blown out and furniture tossed onto office floors.

Five flimsy houses collapsed but their residents were among the tens of thousands who had already fled to shelters.

"When the boards blew off our window we decided to look outside and -- Oh my God," said Gloria Winkles, a tourist from Texas sheltering in a small hotel in from the coast and looking out at raging waters that half submerged a blue jeep.

"When we get tornadoes in Texas they come and go in 20 minutes. But this seems to be going on for ever," she said.

Powerful waves swallowed up white sand beaches and flooded low-lying areas, and gusts of over 140 mph (225 kph) bent palm trees double as Wilma -- a slow-moving and dangerously wide Category 4 hurricane -- hung over the area.

"It is well, ugly. We are very worried," said Antonio Garcia, 20, who was left behind to look after the steakhouse where he works in Playa del Carmen.

European backpackers who had spend Thursday night in good spirits as the hurricane first hit, were more somber as they settled down under candlelight for a second night of howling wind rattling their hotel's doors and windows.

In Cancun, a haven of luxury hotels perched on a long strip of sand, tourists evacuated to a business hotel away from the shore were told to stay in bathrooms, well away from windows.

"I'm going to make my bed in the bathroom. That's where they said I should go," said airport worker Ruben Guzman.

 

YUCATAN NAILED

Forecasters warned of catastrophic damage as the eye of the storm moved in from the Caribbean, over the Yucatan peninsula.

"The Yucatan is really getting nailed on this," said Max Mayfield, director of the U.S. National Hurricane Center. "It will continue to pound that region for at least 24 hours."

All along Mexico's "Maya Riviera," thousands of stranded backpackers huddled nervously in dank, sweaty gymnasiums and schools as the flimsy wooden beach cabins where many had been staying took a battering.

At a gymnasium in Cancun, 1,600 people lay on mattresses eating canned food and sweating, many stripped down to bathing suits or underwear. Some worried whether the walls would hold up, while an optimistic local entrepreneur sold T-shirts with the hopeful logo: "I Survived Hurricane Wilma."

"I wish it would get a move on. It's frustrating," said British software salesman Rob Stevens. "We've come a long way and now we are sitting here in a hot, damp, leaking building."

Mexican emergency officials said more than 50,000 people were evacuated and about 17,000 were put in schools, gymnasiums and hotel conference rooms further inland.

The storm was expected to dump 10 to 20 inches (25 to 50 cm) of rain across the Yucatan western Cuba. Some areas could get up to 40 inches, U.S. forecasters said.

 

CUBA REELING

Mudslides caused by rains from Wilma killed 10 people in Haiti earlier this week.

Cuba was also reeling as rains drenched the west of the island and unleashed tornadoes that destroyed tobacco-curing sheds and homes. One person was badly injured by a sheet of zinc ripped off a roof.

"It made a terrifying noise, like a jet plane," said Felix Leon, in the town of San Juan y Martinez.

Cuba evacuated 368,000 people from low-lying areas as it braced for coastal storm surges and floods.

Wilma was expected to crash into heavily-populated southern Florida on Monday. While forecasters expect it to weaken by then, authorities in the Keys ordered tourists out and were considering evacuating the islands' 80,000 residents.

Wilma became the strongest Atlantic storm on record in terms of barometric pressure on Wednesday.

At 8 p.m. EDT (0000 GMT) its center was crossing the northern tip of Cozumel and moving northwest at 4 mph (6 kph).

Wilma was expected to miss Gulf of Mexico oil and gas facilities but Florida's orange groves were at risk.

This hurricane season has spawned three of the most-intense storms on record. Experts say the Atlantic has entered a period of heightened storm activity that could last 20 more years.

 

(Additional reporting by Noel Randewich in Cancun,

Anthony Boadle in Cuba, and Jane Sutton in Miami)

 

Hurricane Wilma batters Mexico's Caribbean resorts, R, 21.10.2005, http://today.reuters.com/news/NewsArticle.aspx?type=topNews&storyID=uri:2005-10-22T015049Z_01_ROB857009_RTRUKOC_0_US-WEATHER-WILMA.xml&pageNumber=2&summit=

 

 

 

 

 

Hurricane Wilma

Whips Cozumel

Then Hits Mexico's Coast

 

October 21, 2005
The New York Times
By MARIA NEWMAN and TIMOTHY WILLIAMS

 

Hurricane Wilma's ferocious winds whipped the island of Cozumel this morning, toppling trees and forcing tourists to flee the popular hotels and resorts favored by Americans and Europeans and move to hot, crowded emergency shelters.

Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center in Florida said the eyewall of the hurricane - part of the fastest-moving section surrounding the eye - hit the Yucatán Peninsula, bringing pounding winds and heavy rains that caused widespread flooding in Mexico and the Caribbean region.

With winds of 145 miles an hour, the storm could linger over the Yucatán Peninsula for a couple of days, said Max Mayfield, the director of the National Hurricane Center. And the longer it spends in that area, he said, the greater the potential for the storm to weaken.

But he cautioned residents along the Gulf Coast that it was too early to tell exactly how it would affect the United States, and to continue to monitor the forecast to plan for what is still a powerful storm.

"This is a good thing," he said at a news conference in Coral Gables. "This gives us more time. It gives people time to say we can see it coming. Don't let our guard down yet."

There was already flooding in parts of Cancun, which is in the projected path of the hurricane. Nearly 50 hotels in Cancun have been evacuated, but more than 30,000 tourists remain in and around the resort area, according to The Associated Press.

After it hit the Yucatán, Wilma was expected to veer north and east toward Cuba, before moving toward southwest Florida. The hurricane is projected to strike southwest Florida on Sunday or Monday.

Mr. Mayfield said that if it only clips the Mexican peninsula, it would continue on into the Gulf Coast with more force. If it hits it more directly and lingers, its force could lessen and it will travel at a slower velocity.

The Category 4 storm, which has killed at least 13 people in Haiti and Jamaica, has led to the evacuations of hundreds of thousands in Mexico and Cuba, where some 370,000 people have been evacuated, The A.P. said.

In Florida, officials have not called for mandatory evacuations, but officials in Key West have asked tourists to leave and have transported hospital patients and nursing home residents out of town. Gov. Jeb Bush has called for a state of emergency, as residents performed the now familiar exercise of boarding up houses and businesses. Wilma would be the eighth hurricane to pass over the state in a little over a year.

The National Hurricane Center has continued to call the storm, whose sustained winds have been reduced from a high of 175 m.p.h. earlier this week, "extremely dangerous."

"All interests in the Florida Keys and the Florida peninsula should closely monitor the progress of extremely dangerous Hurricane Wilma," the Miami-based hurricane center has warned on its Web site since Wednesday.

The hurricane center said that Wilma will cause a storm surge from between 7 to 11 feet above normal tide levels and that "large and dangerous battering waves can be expected near and to the north of the center along the northeastern Yucatán Peninsula."

Wilma is expected to produce 10 to 20 inches of rain on the Yucatán and Cuba - and as much as 40 inches in Cuba's mountainous regions. Two to four inches of rain is expected in Florida through Sunday. Swells generated from the hurricane will likely travel to the United States' Gulf Coast region later today, which could potentially cause flooding, the hurricane center said.

On Wednesday, Wilma became the most intense hurricane recorded in the Atlantic. The storm's 882 millibars of pressure broke the record low of 888 set by Hurricane Gilbert in 1988. Lower pressure brings faster winds.

Hurricane Wilma Whips Cozumel Then Hits Mexico's Coast, NYT, 21.9.2005, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/21/national/21cnd-wilma.html

 

 

 

 

 

Wary Residents of Western Florida

Monitor Shifting Hurricane Forecasts

 

October 21, 2005
The New York Times
By JOSEPH B. TREASTER

 

PUNTA GORDA, Fla., Oct. 20 - Christopher N. Smith was caught by surprise when Hurricane Charley crashed ashore here last year, buckling and tearing at his nearly 100-year-old cypress and pine house and destroying much of this little Gulf Coast town.

"In my opinion," Mr. Smith said Thursday afternoon, "it was too late to evacuate. We figured it was best to stay here."

After the first of half a dozen windows blew in, though, the Smiths realized they might die in the storm.

Yet with forecasters saying that Hurricane Wilma was bearing down on Punta Gorda and the rest of the western coast of Florida, the Smiths, along with their 5-year-old daughter, Isabella, were staying put, at least for the moment.

Across southern Florida, tens of thousands of people, from Key West and up the coast as far as Sarasota, had already begun evacuating. Seven hurricanes have hammered Florida in the last 14 months, and residents know what the storms can do. Still, for others, the warnings about Hurricane Wilma have been too broad and fluctuating. Many residents cannot decide what to do.

"We're keeping an eye on it," Mr. Smith said. "If it really looks like it's coming in here, we could leave on a moment's notice."

On a picture-perfect day, with a bright sun, clear blue skies and a mild, cooling breeze, it was easy to understand the hesitation. Less than an hour away, couples were strolling past sea gulls on snowy white sand on Siesta Key, a small island on the gulf in Sarasota County. Molly Johnson was jogging behind a stroller, her daughter Ruby aboard.

"Right now, it's so iffy," Ms. Johnson said. "I'm just living life like normal."

Forecasts first called for the storm to hit Florida's west coast on Saturday, but it is now expected on Sunday. Thousands of tourists were evacuated Thursday from Cancun and Cozumel, which is expected to take a direct hit from the storm on Friday.

Tom and Jen Hayes flew in to Sarasota on Thursday morning from Asheville, N.C., for a Saturday wedding on the beach at Siesta Key. "We called our friend," Mrs. Hayes said of the bride-to-be, "and basically she didn't give us an option."

They had planned to take a taxicab to their hotel, but changed their minds. "We got a rental car, and we'll try to outrun it if we need to," Mr. Hayes said.

In Tallahassee, Gov. Jeb Bush warned that Hurricane Wilma was "a dangerous storm" and urged Floridians to prepare.

"Many, I am sure," the governor said, "will compare this storm to Hurricane Charley and think, 'Well perhaps it may not be as strong a storm as Hurricane Charley, so therefore we don't have to worry about it as much.' " But, Mr. Bush said, "You do."

Hurricane Wilma reached wind speeds of 175 miles an hour on Wednesday, and forecasters described it as the fiercest storm they had ever seen. The winds dropped to 145 m.p.h. on Thursday, but forecasters said they expected the storm to strengthen as it moved into the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, then possibly diminish somewhat before striking Florida.

Ben Nelson, the state meteorologist, said the hurricane could create storm surges up to 15 feet high that could devastate stretches of the coast, where thousands of houses and condominiums line the beaches.

By Thursday afternoon, Hurricane Wilma was about 400 miles from Key West. Tourists were ordered out of Key West on Wednesday, and Mayor Morgan McPherson said he planned to make evacuation mandatory for everyone on Friday.

"The sentiment among the forecasters is that this hurricane is so erratic that it appears to have a mind of its own," Mr. McPherson said. "They are not exactly sure where it is going.

"It is imperative," he said, "that people heed the warning and evacuate. With the size and magnitude of this storm, if you wait until it is on top of us, it will be too late."

On Wednesday night in Key West, some went to the St. Mary Star of the Sea Catholic Church to pray and light votive candles. The saint "has always protected us," said Christina Todd, who has lived in the Keys more than 10 years. "She will make sure we are safe."

Up the coast, by midday, a solid line of cars was creeping north along Interstate 75 as thousands of residents headed out of harm's way. "Why wait?" asked William Davidson, a retired firefighter, as traffic stalled south of Sarasota.

Mr. Davidson was at the wheel of a pickup truck, towing a 16-foot fishing boat, followed by his wife, Darlene, in their Chevrolet. They live in Port Charlotte, which was heavily damaged last year by Hurricane Charley.

"After Hurricane Charley," Mr. Davidson said, "this is freaky."

On Fitzhugh Avenue here in Punta Gorda, Jim Reily was plastering the interior walls of a little two-room house and said he expected to be working there through Saturday.

"It's one thing to be prepared," Mr. Reily said. "But it's another thing to be so frightened that you're not going to do anything else. If it gets close, I'm out of here."

Tim O'Hara contributed reporting from Key West, Fla., for this article, and Christine Jordan Sexton from Tallahassee, Fla.

Wary Residents of Western Florida Monitor Shifting Hurricane Forecasts, NYT, 21.10.2005, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/21/national/21wilma.html

 

 

 

 

 

Key Westers

make pre-hurricane grotto pilgrimage

 

Thu Oct 20, 2005 9:15 PM ET
Reuters
By Laura Myers

 

KEY WEST, Florida (Reuters) - For the past 83 years in Key West, faithful Catholics and non-Catholics alike have made pre-hurricane pilgrimages to a grotto built by a nun at St. Mary Star of the Sea church.

They come to light a candle and say a prayer that the Big One, such as Hurricane Wilma, now gathering strength in the Caribbean on its way to Florida, never comes.

During those 83 years, Key West -- a historic and vulnerable resort island town at the tip of an island chain on the southern end of the Florida Peninsula -- has not taken the full brunt of a devastating hurricane.

On Thursday evening, more than 80 Key Westers gathered in drizzling rain, outside the grotto, during another pre-hurricane Mass.

"What we're doing here today is praying, in our moment of weakness and of fear," said the Rev. Francisco "Paco" Hernandez. "We pray that we are all saved from this disaster."

In 1922, Canadian nun Sister M. Louis Gabriel built and dedicated the grotto to Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Bernadette, according to the religious publication The Florida Catholic.

Gabriel built the grotto out of coral rock. She vowed hurricanes would never devastate the 2-by-4-mile (3.2 to 6.4 km) island after a 1919 hurricane, the last deadly major storm to strike Key West, killed more than 800 people.

Gabriel blessed the grotto: "For as long as this grotto stands this island will never suffer the full force of a hurricane."

Since the shrine's dedication, Key West has been spared major hurricane damage, although Hurricane Georges left quite a mess on the island when it came across as a weak hurricane in 1998.

"We've had people here all day long," Deacon Peter Batty said on Thursday. "We were blessed during this Mass. In other storms, it's poured rain."

Key Westers make pre-hurricane grotto pilgrimage, R, 20.10.2005, http://today.reuters.com/news/NewsArticle.aspx?type=topNews&storyID=2005-10-21T011500Z_01_SCH104418_RTRUKOT_0_TEXT0.xml&related=true

 

 

 

 

 

Florida Evacuations Begin

as Wilma Churns in Caribbean

 

October 20, 2005
The New York Times
By KENNETH CHANG
and KATRIN BENNHOLD

 

A slightly weakened but still fierce Hurricane Wilma continued to spin through the Caribbean today, as scores of tourists and residents began evacuating low-lying coastal areas in the storm's projected path that could reach south Florida by Sunday.

After briefly becoming the most intense Atlantic storm ever observed, with top sustained winds of 175 miles an hour on Wednesday morning, Wilma's winds had eased to 145 m.p.h. by 8 a.m. today, the National Hurricane Center said on its Web site. The storm's slowdown was predicted to give a 24-hour reprieve to Florida residents, who had initially expected it to arrive on their shores by Saturday.

But Wilma is still a Category 4 storm on the five-step hurricane ranking and the Hurricane Center warned that it would probably strengthen again in the next day.

"All interests in the Florida Keys and the Florida peninsula should closely monitor the progress of extremely dangerous Hurricane Wilma," the center said in an online advisory. "Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion."

Tourists were asked to leave the Florida Keys as emergency and rescue teams prepared for the storm and the Federal Emergency Management Agency said in a statement that it has begun placing water, ice and tents in areas where Wilma was forecast to strike. But a mandatory evacuation order was held off until Friday, after the storm slowed, The Associated Press reported.

Meanwhile, large swaths of the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico were subject to a hurricane warning today and everyone on the island of Isla Mujeres, off the coast of Cancun, was told to leave, according to the news agency. A tropical storm warning remained in place for parts of Cuba, Belize and Honduras as local authorities prepared to evacuate thousands of inhabitants from endangered areas..

At 8 a.m. today, the storm's center was about 175 miles southeast of the Mexican island of Cozumel, according to the National Hurricane Center's advisory. Computer models still predict that the storm will continue moving northwest today, possibly striking the Yucatán Peninsula, before it bounces off a cold mass of air descending from the north and makes a sharp right turn to the northeast. If the center of Wilma makes landfall on the Yucatán Peninsula it could create flooding and "large and dangerous battering waves," according to the center.

Under the projected path, the storm will hit the west coast of southern Florida on Sunday and then continue to the northeast, passing over Palm Beach, while leaving the recently battered Gulf Coast states and their oil installations largely untouched.

But the forecast still contains much uncertainty, meteorologists say. If the storm makes an earlier, sharper turn than expected, it may miss Florida entirely and strike Cuba instead. If it turns more slowly, it may make landfall at Tampa or farther north.

The bounce off the cold front should disrupt the storm's wind patterns, and when it strikes land it is likely to be weaker, though still dangerous, at Category 2 or 3, said Stacy Stewart, a meteorologist at the hurricane center.

Still, Mr. Stewart said he and his colleagues were struck by the speed with which the storm had gained strength, briefly reaching Category 5 strength on Wednesday morning. "We were anticipating it becoming a major hurricane within 24 hours," he said. "It just did it in half that time or maybe a little less."

The winds are driven by low air pressure at the eye of the hurricane. Air pressure at sea level is usually 14.7 pounds per square inch; a reconnaissance aircraft found the air at Hurricane Wilma's eye on Wednesday morning to be just 12.8 pounds per square inch, the lowest pressure ever measured in an Atlantic hurricane. The previous low was Hurricane Gilbert in 1988, at 12.9 pounds per square inch.

Mr. Stewart said Hurricane Wilma had quickly strengthened because of warm waters and the absence of wind shear in the upper atmosphere that can pull storms apart. "It was straight up and down, and it began to spin faster and faster and faster," he said.

Monroe County officials in South Florida had already declared a state of emergency on Wednesday and ordered tourists to leave the Keys. A mandatory evacuation order was expected for all Keys residents by noon today, if the hurricane continues on its projected path. Officials were due to open a shelter for them in Miami today. Schools and all county offices in the Keys are closed today and Friday.

Jon Myatt, a spokesman for the Florida National Guard, said Gov. Jeb Bush was expected to sign an order mobilizing 1,200 soldiers to help with hurricane relief if the storm strikes Florida. The troops will then report to local National Guard armories.

"We're all ready," Mr. Myatt said on Wednesday. "We're going to bring soldiers in. We've got enough time to make it happen."

Florida mobilized the same number of troops before Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, he said.

Lt. Cmdr. Sean Kelly, a spokesman for the United States Northern Command in Colorado Springs, which is in charge of the military's response to threats on American soil, said a dozen people had been sent to Tallahassee to coordinate possible requests for help from FEMA. Homestead Air Reserve Base, near Miami, has been designated as a staging area for the agency to stock food, water and ice, he said.

Wilma was the 21st tropical storm to form in the Atlantic this year, exhausting this year's list of names, and any additional storms this year would be named after Greek letters, starting with Alpha. The 21 storms tie the 1933 record for the busiest season since hurricane counting started in 1851. But the hurricane season continues for an additional six weeks, ending Nov. 30.

While Hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit the United States with devastating force, by other measures this season does not rank as the worst. An index that tracks the total energy of the storms - taking into account how long the storms last - finds that this year the total energy is about twice the average. But in 1950, the index, called the accumulated cyclone energy, was 2.7 times the average.

"We're not even close to unprecedented at this time," said Christopher Landsea, a scientist at a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration center outside Miami. Several of the storms this year lasted for only a day or two. "This year, we haven't seen the really long-lived tracks," he said.

Terry Aguayo contributed reporting for this article from Miami, and David S. Cloud from Washington.

    Florida Evacuations Begin as Wilma Churns in Caribbean, NYT, 20.10.2005, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/20/national/20cnd-wilma.html

 

 

 

 

Hurricane Wilma

Nears Yucatán Peninsula

 

October 20, 2005
The New York Times
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Filed at 5:55 a.m. ET

 

CANCUN, Mexico (AP) -- Much of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula was under a hurricane warning Thursday, as Hurricane Wilma swirled off its eastern shore. The storm, already blamed for 13 deaths, slowed down, pushing back predictions of when it might hit Florida.

Tourists were ordered to leave the Florida Keys, and everyone was told to evacuate the island of Isla Mujeres, near Cancun. Authorities were poised to move out thousands of others Thursday from low-lying areas in a 600-mile swath covering Cuba, Mexico, Belize, Honduras, Jamaica, Haiti and the Cayman Islands.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said Wilma had lost some speed.

''Because it is moving slower, we don't anticipate it making landfall in Florida until sometime on Sunday,'' a day later than previously forecast, hurricane center meteorologist Jennifer Pralgo said.

Some of the estimated 70,000 tourists still in Cancun and surrounding areas were taking the warnings more seriously than others.

Standing knee-deep in the ocean and drinking beer in Playa de Carmen, south of Cancun, Mike Goepfrich, of Minneapolis, said: ''As long as they give me beer in the shelter, and my kids are safe, we'll be fine. We're going to ride it out here.''

Nearby, fisherman Rolando Ramirez, 51, was helping others pull their fishing boats from the water in preparation for Wilma's passage.

''People here aren't concerned about anything,'' said Ramirez. ''They don't know that when the hurricane comes, this will all be under water.''

At 5 a.m. EDT, Wilma had sustained winds of 150 mph, down from a peak of 175 mph, but forecasters said it could strengthen again.

Wilma was centered 195 miles southeast of Mexico's Cozumel Island, and was moving west-northwest at 8 mph.

Countries across the region prepared for the worst. Much of Central America was still recovering from Hurricane Stan, which left more than 1,500 people dead or missing.

The storm was on a curving course that would carry it through the narrow channel between Cuba and Mexico on Friday, possibly within a few miles of Cancun and Cozumel.

In the coastal state of Quintana Roo -- which includes Cancun -- officials ordered the evacuation of four low-lying islands, including Isla Mujeres, and also closed the popular cruise ship port on the island of Cozumel.

''This is getting very powerful, very threatening,'' President Vicente Fox said. Hundreds of schools in Quintana Roo were ordered closed Thursday and Friday, and many will be used as storm shelters.

Predictions differed on where the hurricane would go and how strong it would be when it reaches U.S. shores, where Florida residents began buying water, canned food and other emergency supplies.

Wilma's track could take it near Punta Gorda on Florida's southwestern Gulf Coast and other areas hit by Hurricane Charley, a Category 4 storm, in August 2004.

The state has seen seven hurricanes hit or pass close by since August 2004, causing more than $20 billion in estimated damage and killing nearly 150 people.

''People have learned their lesson and know better how to prepare. We're not waiting until the last minute anymore,'' said Andrea Yerger, 48, of Port Charlotte, Fla.

On Wednesday, tourists packed Cancun's airport even though skies were still partly sunny, looking for flights home or to other resorts.

Mark Carara cut his family's vacation short by two days, and tried to get on a standby flight home to Colorado.

''You hear it was the biggest storm on record, and yeah, that was the clincher right there,'' he said. ''It was time for us to go.''

Heavy rain, high winds and rough seas pounded coastal areas of Honduras on Wednesday, knocking out power to about 20 towns, cutting off roads to four others and forcing the evacuation of coastal villages and the closure of two Caribbean ports.

Four fishermen were reported missing at sea and about 500 U.S. and European tourists were moved to safe locations at hotels on Honduras' Bay Islands.

The head of Haiti's civil protection agency, Maria Alta Jean-Baptiste, said that at least 12 people had died in rain and landslides there since Monday. At least 2,000 Haitian families had been forced from flooded homes.

Jamaica, where heavy rains have fallen since Sunday, closed almost all schools and 350 people were living in shelters. One man died Sunday in a rain-swollen river.

The storm was expected to dump up to 25 inches of rain in mountainous areas of Cuba through Friday, and up to up to 15 inches in the Caymans and Jamaica through Thursday.

In Belize, a nation south of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, officials canceled cruise ship visits and tourists were evacuated from keys offshore.

Wilma's confirmed pressure readings early Wednesday dropped to 882 millibars, the lowest minimum pressure ever measured in a hurricane in the Americas, according to the hurricane center. Lower pressure translates into higher wind speed.

The strongest Atlantic storm on record, based on pressure readings, had been Hurricane Gilbert in 1988, which registered 888 millibars.

Wilma is the record-tying 12th hurricane of the Atlantic season, the same number reached in 1969. Records have been kept since 1851.

On Monday, Wilma became the Atlantic hurricane season's 21st named storm, tying the record set in 1933 and exhausting the list of names for this year.

The six-month hurricane season does not end until Nov. 30. Any new storms would be named with letters from the Greek alphabet, starting with Alpha.

------

Associated Press writers Mitch Stacy in Punta Gorda, Florida, Vanessa Arrington in Havana, Cuba, and Jay Ehrhart in George Town, Cayman Islands, contributed to this report.

------

On the Net:

National Hurricane Center: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov

    Hurricane Wilma Nears Yucatán Peninsula, NYT, 20.10.2005, http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/international/AP-Hurricane-Wilma.html

 

 

 

 

 

Hurricane Wilma

still seen turning toward Florida

 

Thu Oct 20, 2005 8:08 AM ET
Reuters

 

NEW YORK (Reuters) - All of the major weather models still project Hurricane Wilma, an extremely dangerous storm heading toward the Yucatan Peninsula for now, striking Florida on Sunday.

The weather models show Wilma moving northwest across the Caribbean Sea to the waters between Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula and western Cuba, where it will enter the Gulf of Mexico and turn northeast toward the south-central Gulf Coast of Florida.

Wilma will probably spare the U.S. oil and natural gas rigs and refineries on the Gulf of Mexico which had been badly battered by hurricanes Katrina and Rita in late August and September.

In an advisory at 5 a.m. EDT, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said the center of the storm was located about 195 miles southeast of Cozumel, Mexico.

Wilma is still moving west-northwest at nearly eight miles per hour, with some wobbles of the eye during the past few hours. The NHC expects the storm to turn toward northwest later today.

Its maximum sustained winds decreased to near 150 mph with higher gusts, making Wilma a Category 4 (winds 131-155 mph) hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale. The NHC expects some restrengthening during the next 24 hours.

The NHC expects the storm to weaken into a Category 2 (winds 96-110 mph) or Category 3 (winds 111-130 mph) storm before hitting the Florida coast.

The NHC will issue an intermediate advisory at 8 a.m. followed by the next complete advisory at 11 a.m. Position: Lat. 18.3 degrees North

Long. 85.0 degrees West (195 miles southeast of Cozumel, Mexico) Track: West-northwest near eight mph Strength: 150 mph maximum sustained winds

LATEST FORECAST POSITIONS AND MAXIMUM WINDS

INITIAL 20/0900Z 18.3N 85.0W 130 KT

12HR VT 20/1800Z 18.9N 85.8W 135 KT

24HR VT 21/0600Z 20.0N 86.5W 145 KT

36HR VT 21/1800Z 21.0N 87.0W 145 KT

48HR VT 22/0600Z 22.0N 86.5W 125 KT

72HR VT 23/0600Z 24.0N 84.5W 110 KT

96HR VT 24/0600Z 27.0N 80.0W 80 KT 120HR VT 25/0600Z 37.1N 70.0W 65 KT...BCMNG EXTRTRPCAL

(NOTES -- Second column shows date and GMT time. To convert GMT time to EDT, subtract 4 hours. Third and fourth column show coordinates. Fifth column shows maximum sustained speed in knots. 1 knot = 1.15 mph. 34 knots or greater is tropical storm strength. 64 knots or greater is hurricane strength. U.S. offshore oil and natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico is concentrated north of 27 degrees North and west of 88 degrees West.)

    Hurricane Wilma still seen turning toward Florida, R, 20.10.2005, http://today.reuters.com/news/NewsArticle.aspx?type=topNews&storyID=2005-10-20T120831Z_01_ROB945487_RTRUKOT_0_TEXT0.xml&related=true

 

 

 

 

 

Hurricane Wilma spurs Mexico,

Florida exodus

 

Thu Oct 20, 2005 2:34 AM ET
Reuters

 

MIAMI (Reuters)- Hurricane Wilma, which weakened to a still fierce Category 4 storm after breaking intensity records in the Caribbean Sea, prompted widespread evacuations as it neared the Gulf of Mexico early on Thursday.

Wilma became the fiercest Category 5 Atlantic hurricane ever recorded on Wednesday as it churned toward western Cuba and Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. Densely populated southern Florida was in the storm's projected path in the coming days.

Wilma was expected to miss the oil and gas facilities in the Gulf of Mexico but Florida's orange groves and sugar cane fields were at risk.

Wilma's top winds weakened to 155 mph (250 kph) as of 2 a.m. EDT (0600 GMT) Thursday, with higher gusts. Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center said it could strengthen again.

There was a chance the core of the hurricane could hit the Yucatan on Friday, sending a 10-foot (3-meter) surge of sea water over the coast, forecasters said.

The season's record-tying 21st storm, fueled by the warm waters of the northwest Caribbean, strengthened rapidly into a Category 5 hurricane, the top rank on the five-step scale of hurricane intensity.

A U.S. Air Force plane measured top sustained winds of 175 mph (280 kph) early on Wednesday and logged a minimum barometric pressure of 882 millibars, the lowest ever observed in the Atlantic basin.

That meant Wilma was briefly stronger than any Atlantic storm on record, including Katrina, which devastated New Orleans in August, and Rita, which hit the Texas-Louisiana coast in September.

Computer models used to predict its long-term path diverged widely, though Hurricane Center Director Max Mayfield said it was still likely to slice across southern Florida as a formidable hurricane on Saturday and Sunday.

Florida was hit by four hurricanes last year and has been struck by Hurricanes Dennis, Katrina and Rita this year. State emergency officials warned everyone south of the Tampa-Orlando corridor to prepare to weather Wilma's violence.

 

FRIGHTENING STORM LOOMS

Stung by criticism over a slow federal response to Katrina, the Bush administration said it was working with Florida officials to ensure "seamless coordination" in preparation for Wilma. "This is a very frightening storm that is on our doorstep," said Monroe County Mayor Dixie Spehar in the low-lying Florida Keys island chain.

Authorities in the Keys, connected to mainland Florida by a single road, ordered tourists out on Wednesday and told the islands' 80,000 residents to evacuate on Thursday.

Mayfield said Wilma could churn up 35- to 50-foot (11- to 15-meter) waves over the open sea and send huge breakers over the coast. "I just don't see how the Florida Keys will get out of this without having a major impact," Mayfield said.

Storm warnings were in force for Honduras in Central America, where more than 1,000 people died this month after Hurricane Stan triggered mudslides that buried entire villages. Warnings were also posted for the Yucatan, Cuba and Belize.

Wilma's rains triggered mudslides that killed 10 people in Haiti. The storm was expected to dump up to 25 inches of rain on mountainous parts of Cuba, up to 15 inches in the Yucatan and up to 8 inches in Honduras and the Cayman Islands, a British colony south of Cuba.

By 2 a.m. on Thursday (0600 GMT), Wilma's center was 215 miles southeast of Cozumel, Mexico.

Fishermen took their boats to safety, MTV canceled a major Latin awards show on Mexico's Caribbean coast and authorities began evacuating 10,000 people from the coastal state of Quintana Roo. Tourists lined up at the airport to escape the beach resort of Cancun, but many flights were full.

"We'll get on a bus or take a car, we're very determined," said German vacationer Ulrike Gruber, 27.

Wilma was the 12th hurricane of the year and tied the record for most hurricanes in a season set in 1969.

The season still has six weeks to run and has already spawned three of the most intense hurricanes on record. Hurricane experts say the Atlantic has swung back into a period of heightened storm activity that could last another 20 years.

Wilma was wobbling west-northwest at 8 mph (13 kph) and was expected to turn northwest by later on Thursday. It was forecast to skirt western Cuba and move into the southeastern Gulf of Mexico, then turn sharply northeast toward Florida.

Cuba suspended school in the western province of Pinar del Rio and began evacuating thousands of coastal residents. Workers in the province hastened to protect tobacco seedlings for the next harvest of leaves that make Cuba's famed cigars.

(Reporting by Jane Sutton in Miami, Anthony Boadle and Esteban Israel in Havana, Laura Myers in Key West, Rene Pastor in New York and Tabassum Zakaria in Washington)

    Hurricane Wilma spurs Mexico, Florida exodus, R, 20.10.2005, http://today.reuters.com/news/NewsArticle.aspx?type=topNews&storyID=2005-10-20T063356Z_01_ROB857009_RTRUKOC_0_US-WEATHER-WILMA.xml

 

 

 

 

 

Floridians Prepare for Powerful Storm

 

October 20, 2005
The New York Times
By KENNETH CHANG

 

Hurricane Wilma quickly gained strength yesterday as it spun through the Caribbean, by one measure becoming the most intense Atlantic storm ever observed.

By 5 a.m. yesterday, the storm had grown into a Category 5 hurricane, with top sustained winds of 175 miles per hour, up from 80 m.p.h. on Tuesday evening. By 11 p.m., the National Hurricane Center in Miami reported that the winds had slowed to 155 m.p.h., Category 4 status. The storm could strengthen again, the center said.

Computers models predict that the storm will continue moving northwest today, possibly striking the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico, before it bounces off a cold mass of air descending from the north and makes a sharp right turn to the northeast. Under the projected path, it will strike the west coast of southern Florida on Saturday night or Sunday morning and continue to the northeast, passing over Palm Beach.

But the forecast still contains much uncertainty. If the storm makes an earlier, sharper turn, it may miss Florida entirely and strike Cuba instead. If it turns more slowly, it may make landfall at Tampa or farther north.

The bounce off the cold front should disrupt the storm's wind patterns, and when it strikes land it is likely to be weaker, though still dangerous, at Category 2 or 3, said Stacy Stewart, a meteorologist at the hurricane center.

Still, Mr. Stewart said he and his colleagues were struck by the speed with which the storm had gained strength. "We were anticipating it becoming a major hurricane within 24 hours," he said. "It just did it in half that time or maybe a little less."

The winds are driven by low air pressure at the eye of the hurricane. Air pressure at sea level is usually 14.7 pounds per square inch; a reconnaissance aircraft found the air at Hurricane Wilma's eye yesterday morning to be just 12.8 pounds per square inch, the lowest pressure ever measured in an Atlantic hurricane. The previous low was Hurricane Gilbert in 1988, at 12.9 pounds per square inch.

Mr. Stewart said Hurricane Wilma had quickly strengthened because of warm waters and the absence of wind shear in the upper atmosphere that can pull storms apart. "It was straight up and down, and it began to spin faster and faster and faster," he said.

In South Florida, Monroe County officials declared a state of emergency yesterday morning and ordered tourists to leave the Keys. A mandatory evacuation order is expected for all Keys residents at noon today, if the hurricane continues on its projected path. Officials plan to open a shelter for them in Miami today. Schools and all county offices in the Keys will be closed today and Friday.

Jon Myatt, a spokesman for the Florida National Guard, said Gov. Jeb Bush was expected to sign an order this morning mobilizing 1,200 soldiers to help with hurricane relief if the storm strikes Florida. The troops will then report to local National Guard armories.

"We're all ready," Mr. Myatt said. "We're going to bring soldiers in. We've got enough time to make it happen."

Florida mobilized the same number of troops before Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, he said.

Lt. Cmdr. Sean Kelly, a spokesman for the United States Northern Command in Colorado Springs, which is in charge of the military's response to threats on American soil, said a dozen people had been sent to Tallahassee to coordinate possible requests for help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Homestead Air Reserve Base, near Miami, has been designated as a staging area for FEMA to stock food, water and ice, he said.

Wilma was the 21st tropical storm to form in the Atlantic this year, exhausting this year's list of names, and any additional storms this year would be named after Greek letters, starting with Alpha. The 21 storms tie the 1933 record for the busiest season since hurricane counting started in 1851. The hurricane season, however, continues for another six weeks, ending Nov. 30.

While Hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit the United States with devastating force, by other measures this season does not rank as the worst. An index that tracks the total energy of the storms - taking into account how long the storms last - finds that this year the total energy is about twice the average. But in 1950, the index, called the accumulated cyclone energy, was 2.7 times the average.

"We're not even close to unprecedented at this time," said Christopher Landsea, a scientist at a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration outside Miami. Several of the storms this year lasted for only a day or two. "This year, we haven't seen the really long-lived tracks," he said.

 

Terry Aguayo contributed reporting from Miami for this article,

and David S. Cloud from Washington.

    Floridians Prepare for Powerful Storm, NYT, 20.10.2005, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/20/national/20wilma.html

 

 

 

 

 

Record Hurricane threatens Florida

 

Thu Oct 20, 2005 12:15 AM ET
Reuters
By Jane Sutton

 

MIAMI (Reuters) - Hurricane Wilma became the fiercest Atlantic hurricane ever recorded as it churned toward western Cuba and Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula on Wednesday and threatened densely populated Florida.

The season's record-tying 21st storm fueled up on the warm waters of the northwest Caribbean Sea and strengthened rapidly into a Category 5 hurricane, the top rank on the five-step scale of hurricane intensity.

Wilma was expected to miss the oil and gas facilities in the Gulf of Mexico but Florida's orange groves and sugar cane fields were at risk.

A U.S. Air Force plane measured top sustained winds of 175 mph (280 kph) early on Wednesday and logged a minimum barometric pressure of 882 millibars, the lowest ever observed in the Atlantic basin.

That meant Wilma was briefly stronger than any Atlantic storm on record, including Katrina, which devastated New Orleans in August, and Rita, which hit the Texas-Louisiana coast in September.

Wilma's top winds weakened to 155 mph (250 kph) late on Wednesday. It was still a powerful and dangerous Category 4 storm, and forecasters at the National Hurricane Center said it could strengthen again.

There was a chance the core of the hurricane could hit the Yucatan on Friday, sending a 10-foot (3-meter) surge of sea water over the coast, forecasters said.

Computer models used to predict its long-term path diverged widely, though Hurricane Center Director Max Mayfield said it was still likely to slice across southern Florida as a formidable hurricane on Saturday and Sunday.

Florida was hit by four hurricanes last year and has been struck by Hurricanes Dennis, Katrina and Rita this year. State emergency officials warned everyone south of the Tampa-Orlando corridor to prepare to weather Wilma's violence.

 

FRIGHTENING STORM LOOMS

Stung by criticism over a slow federal response to Katrina, the Bush administration said it was working with Florida officials to ensure "seamless coordination" in preparation for Wilma.

"This is a very frightening storm that is on our doorstep," said Monroe County Mayor Dixie Spehar in the low-lying Florida Keys island chain.

Authorities in the Keys, which are connected to mainland Florida by a single road, ordered tourists out on Wednesday and told the islands' 80,000 residents to evacuate on Thursday.

Mayfield said Wilma could churn up 35- to 50-foot (11- to 15-meter) waves over the open sea and send huge breakers over the coast. "I just don't see how the Florida Keys will get out of this without having a major impact," Mayfield said.

Storm warnings were in force for Honduras in Central America, where more than 1,000 people died this month after Hurricane Stan triggered mudslides that buried entire villages. Warnings were also posted for the Yucatan, Cuba and Belize.

Wilma's rains triggered mudslides that killed 10 people in Haiti. The storm was expected to dump up to 25 inches of rain on mountainous parts of Cuba, up to 15 inches in the Yucatan and up to 8 inches in Honduras and the Cayman Islands, a British colony south of Cuba.

By 11 p.m. on Wednesday, Wilma's center was 235 miles southeast of Cozumel, Mexico.

Fishermen took their boats to safety, MTV canceled a major Latin awards show on Mexico's Caribbean coast and authorities began evacuating 10,000 people from the coastal state of Quintana Roo. Tourists lined up at the airport to escape the beach resort of Cancun, but many flights were full.

"We'll get on a bus or take a car, we're very determined," said German vacationer Ulrike Gruber, 27.

Wilma was the 21st storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, tying a record set in 1933. It was also the 12th hurricane and tied the record for most hurricanes in a season set in 1969.

The season still has six weeks to run and has already spawned three of the most intense hurricanes on record -- Katrina, Rita and Wilma. Hurricane experts say the Atlantic has swung back into a period of heightened storm activity that could last another 20 years.

Wilma was wobbling west-northwest at 8 mph (13 kph) and was expected to turn northwest by Thursday. It was forecast to skirt western Cuba and move into the southeastern Gulf of Mexico, then turn sharply northeast toward Florida.

Cuba suspended school in the western province of Pinar del Rio and began evacuating thousands of coastal residents. Workers in the province hastened to protect tobacco seedlings for the next harvest of leaves that make Cuba's famed cigars.

 

(Additional reporting by Anthony Boadle and Esteban Israel in Havana, Laura Myers in Key West, Rene Pastor in New York and Tabassum Zakaria in Washington)

    Record Hurricane threatens Florida, R, 20.10.2005, http://today.reuters.com/news/NewsArticle.aspx?type=topNews&storyID=2005-10-20T041505Z_01_ROB857009_RTRUKOC_0_US-WEATHER-WILMA.xml

 

 

 

 

 

White House:

preparations underway for Wilma

 

Wed Oct 19, 2005 10:28 PM ET
Reuters

 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Stung by criticism over a slow federal response to Hurricane Katrina, the White House on Wednesday said the administration was actively taking steps to ensure "seamless coordination" in preparation for Hurricane Wilma.

Wilma became the fiercest Atlantic hurricane ever recorded as it threatened Florida after killing 10 people in Haiti.

"The primary difference between Wilma and Katrina storm preparations is a renewed effort to make coordination at all levels of government as seamless as possible," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said in a statement.

"We are redoubling our actions and asking tough questions about what those needs are to ensure that we meet them," he said. "We believe responsibilities and expectations are clear at all levels."

President George W. Bush and his administration were sharply criticized for the initial response to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is coordinating daily video teleconferences with agencies in the region and is working with state and local officials on any pre-positioning of teams and resources that might be needed, the White House said.

Bush also spoke with his brother Florida Gov. Jeb Bush to discuss preparations for Hurricane Wilma.

    White House: preparations underway for Wilma, R, 19.10.2005, http://today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=domesticNews&storyID=2005-10-20T022823Z_01_FOR983020_RTRUKOC_0_US-WEATHER-WILMA-BUSH.xml

 

 

 

 

 

Wilma a record-setter,

but records scanty -experts

 

Wed Oct 19, 2005 6:50 PM ET
Reuters
By Michael Christie

 

MIAMI (Reuters) - The 2005 hurricane season has spawned three of the most intense Atlantic storms on record with Katrina, Rita and now Wilma, fueling the debate over global warming's impact on hurricanes.

Yet even weather experts convinced that global warming is a serious threat caution against blaming climate change.

While Wilma on Wednesday briefly became the most powerful Atlantic hurricane on record in terms of its barometric minimum pressure, that does not mean it is the strongest hurricane ever, they said.

Similarly powerful storms could have occurred in the 1940s and 1950s, said Jeff Masters, chief meteorologist for weatherunderground.com and a former Hurricane Hunter flight meteorologist.

"Back then we didn't have satellites and we didn't have aircraft reconnaissance. So it's quite possible that a lot of those hurricanes had an 882-millibar pressure. We just weren't around there to see," Masters said.

Hurricane experts say the Atlantic swung back in 1995 into a multi-decade period of heightened storm activity that could last another 25 years.

The 2004 season, which saw four hurricanes slam into Florida in a six-week period, kicked off the increased storm activity with a bang, and few expected it to be surpassed.

But with six weeks of the Atlantic hurricane season still to go, 2005 has already tied the 1933 record for the most tropical storms in one season with 21, and the 1969 record for the most hurricanes with 12.

Katrina, which devastated New Orleans in late August, Rita, which followed on Katrina's heels, and now Wilma, churning ominously to the south of Cuba, rank among the five most intense hurricanes on record, in terms of barometric pressure.

Those records, however, only go back 150 years. Satellite imagery and high-tech dropsondes date back only to the 1950s.

"When you start inferring lots of things from the hurricane climate data, then you're on thin ice because that climate data is not very good," said Richard Pasch, a hurricane specialist at the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami.

Kerry Emanuel, a professor of meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has found in his studies that the 2 degree Celsius (3.6 degree Fahrenheit) increase in sea surface temperatures predicted by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change would raise the upper limit on a storm's intensity by 10 percent.

Most climatologists agree sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic are somewhat warmer than usual this year.

In July, Emanuel published a new study in the journal Nature that indicated the impact could be even worse. Big storms appear to be 50 percent more intense now and last 50 percent longer than those of the 1970s, he said.

But blaming climate change is perhaps a step too far.

"It is tempting to ascribe Katrina, Rita and now Wilma to global warming effects, but I am not sure that would pass statistical muster," Emanuel said in an e-mail exchange.

Masters said climatologists probably needed another 30 years of recorded data before they could start drawing inferences about global warming and hurricanes.

"This year is a once-in-a-lifetime year and I don't expect in our lifetimes we'll see anything like it. If we do, then something is seriously wrong with our planet but I don't think that's going to be the case," Masters said.

"But it is always a concern because we are definitely affecting the climate and it is possible that through our mucking around we've crossed some sort of threshold."

    Wilma a record-setter, but records scanty -experts, R, 19.10.2005, http://today.reuters.com/news/NewsArticle.aspx?type=topNews&storyID=2005-10-19T224957Z_01_FOR982167_RTRUKOT_0_TEXT0.xml&related=true

 

 

 

 

 

New Storm Measures

as Most Intense Ever for Atlantic Basin

 

October 19, 2005
The New York Times
By TIMOTHY WILLIAMS

 

Hurricane Wilma, which appeared headed toward Cancun, Mexico, and possibly the Gulf Coast of Florida by this weekend, intensified into the most powerful storm ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean basin early this morning, with winds of 175 miles per hour.

The hurricane is "potentially catastrophic," the National Hurricane Center said in its most recent advisory this morning.

"All interests in the Florida Keys and the Florida peninsula should closely monitor the progress of extremely dangerous Hurricane Wilma," the hurricane center said.

The hurricane center, based in Miami, added however, that if Wilma traveled across the gulf and made landfall in southwest Florida, it would likely be a substantially weakened storm. This morning, officials in the Florida Keys asked tourists to leave the area - which is usually a precursor for a larger evacuation order.

Forecasts project Wilma to move through the Yucatan Channel, the body of water between Cuba and Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula before it reaches the Gulf of Mexico. It is not expected to affect the region from Texas to Mississippi struck by hurricanes Katrina and Rita the past two months; those storms killed more than 1,200 people and caused billions of dollars in damage.

"We are not concerned about the Gulf Coast and we expect little if any impact on the oil industry," said Stacy Stewart, a hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center. "This is mostly going to be a Florida peninsula storm."

Since August of last year, seven hurricanes have passed over Florida.

Hurricane Wilma's winds extend 15 miles out, and tropical storm force winds extend to 160 miles, according to the hurricane center.

The storm's central pressure of 26.06 inches, or 882 millibars, is the lowest recorded of a storm in the Atlantic Ocean basin, which includes the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. Lower pressure translates into higher wind speeds.

The previous record holder was Hurricane Gilbert in 1988, which had a pressure of 888 millibars. Hurricane Rita, which slammed into the Gulf Coast last month, had a pressure of 897 millibars.

A hurricane watch is now in effect for the eastern coast of the Yucatan peninsula and parts of Cuba and the Cayman Islands. A tropical storm warning has been called for regions of Honduras, which has closed two seaports in preparation for Wilma. Mexico, Cuba, Nicaragua and the Cayman Islands have issued their own hurricane warnings. Mexico's hurricane warning includes the tourist area of Cancun. The MTV Latin America Video Music Awards ceremony, originally scheduled to be held Thursday at a park near Cancun, was rescheduled for today to avoid Wilma.

Honduras and neighboring Guatemala are still recovering from Hurricane Stan, whose rains caused flooding and mudslides that killed at least 800 people.

The hurricane is expected to dump 10 to 15 inches of rain on the Cayman Islands and Jamaica, and as much as 25 inches in mountainous regions of Cuba, according to the hurricane center.

At 8 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time, the center of Wilma was located about 340 miles southeast of Cozumel, Mexico, moving in a northwest direction at about eight miles an hour.

The storm is 12th hurricane of the season, which ties a record set in 1969. That figure is the most for a single season since record-keeping began in 1851. On Monday, the storm became the 21st named storm in the Atlantic hurricane season, tying a record set in 1933, and exhausting the list of names for this year. Any new storms in the six month hurricane season, which ends Nov. 30, would be named with letters from the Greek alphabet, starting with Alpha.

    New Storm Measures as Most Intense Ever for Atlantic Basin, NYT, 19.10.2005, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/19/national/19cnd-storm.html

 

 

 

 

 

Wilma strongest hurricane on record

 

Wed Oct 19, 2005 10:45 AM ET
Reuters
By Michael Christie

 

MIAMI (Reuters) - Hurricane Wilma became the most powerful Atlantic hurricane on record on Wednesday as it churned toward western Cuba and Mexico's Yucatan peninsula on a track toward Florida, having already killed 10 people in Haiti.

The season's record-tying 21st storm, fueled by the warm waters of the northwest Caribbean Sea, strengthened alarmingly into a Category 5 hurricane, the top rank on the five-step scale of hurricane intensity.

A U.S. Air Force reconnaissance plane measured maximum sustained winds of 175 mph, with higher gusts, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

The plane also recorded a minimum pressure of 882 millibars, the lowest value ever observed in the Atlantic basin. That meant Wilma was stronger than any storm on record, including Katrina, which devastated New Orleans in late August, and Rita, which hit the Texas-Louisiana coast in September.

Storm warnings were in force for Honduras in Central America, where more than 1,000 people died this month after Hurricane Stan triggered mudslides that buried entire villages. Warnings were also issued for the Yucatan, Cuba and the Cayman Islands.

Wilma has killed up to 10 people who died in mudslides in deforested and impoverished Haiti after several days of heavy rain, civil protection officials said.

Wilma was expected to bring rainfall of up to 25 inches to mountainous parts of Cuba, and up to 15 inches to Jamaica and to the Cayman Islands, a wealthy British colony south of Cuba. Honduras and Mexico could expect up to 12 inches

of rain, the hurricane center said.

By 8 a.m. EDT, the hurricane was about 340 miles

southeast of Cozumel, Mexico.

Wilma was the 21st storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, tying the record set in 1933. It was also the 12th hurricane and tied the record for most hurricanes in a season set in 1969.

The season still has six weeks left to run. Hurricane experts say the Atlantic has swung back into a period of heightened storm activity that could last another 20 years. Climatologists also fear global warming could be making the storms more intense.

 

FLORIDA IN WILMA'S SIGHTS

The storm was moving west-northwest at 8 mph (13 km/h). A turn toward the northwest was expected in the next 24 hours. Once in the southeastern Gulf of Mexico, Wilma was expected to make a sharp turn to the northeast, toward Florida.

Wilma was not expected to threaten New Orleans or Mississippi, where Hurricane Katrina killed more than 1,200 people and caused more than $30 billion in insured damage.

It was also expected to miss the oil and gas facilities in the Gulf of Mexico still reeling from Katrina and Rita.

But frozen orange juice futures closed at a six-year high on Tuesday amid fears Wilma could ravage Florida groves that had just begun to recover from the hurricanes that destroyed 40 percent of last year's crop.

Florida was hit by four hurricanes last year and has been struck by hurricanes Dennis, Katrina and Rita this year.

Cuba's western tobacco-growing province of Pinar del Rio braced for heavy rain. More than 5,000 people were evacuated from eastern Cuba, where two days of rain caused floods and mudslides in the provinces of Guantanamo, Santiago and Granma.

Wilma was expected to weaken before reaching Florida.

Nevertheless, officials in the Florida Keys, a vulnerable chain of low-lying islands connected to mainland Florida by a single road, warned residents and tourists to take the storm seriously.

Tourists would be ordered to evacuate on Thursday and residents would be told to flee the coming storm on Friday.

"This is our fourth storm but this one is really aggressive," Irene Toner, director of emergency management for the county that encompasses the islands, told local radio. "This one we are taking seriously. The damage is going to be substantial."

    Wilma strongest hurricane on record, R, 19.10.2005, http://today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=topNews&storyID=2005-10-19T135611Z_01_ROB857009_RTRUKOC_0_US-WEATHER-WILMA.xml

 

 

 

 

 

Monster Wilma

menaces Florida citrus and sugar crops

 

Wed Oct 19, 2005 10:10 AM ET
Reuters
By Jane Sutton

 

MIAMI (Reuters) - Wilma, the record-tying 21st storm of a harsh Atlantic hurricane season, may devastate prime citrus and sugar crops in Florida, officials warned on Wednesday.

The Sunshine State's $9.1 billion citrus industry is fretting about the storm and the cane plantations in the state also lie at risk only a year after three hurricanes in quick succession pummeled Florida's groves.

Wilma grew into a potentially catastrophic Category 5 hurricane with winds of nearly 175 miles per hour after swiftly powering up in the warm waters of the northern Caribbean.

Worse, a U.S. Air Force reconnaissance plane recorded a preliminary pressure reading Wednesday morning of 882 millibars, making it the lowest since Hurricane Gilbert registered an 888 millibar reading in 1988.

"All the growers are watching it," said Casey Pace, a spokeswoman for Florida Citrus Mutual, the state's largest growers' association. "We have not really begun harvesting, so much of the crop is still on the trees, which obviously is a concern for growers."

Florida's citrus industry was battered by three hurricanes that demolished 40 percent of last year's crop and spread the wind-borne bacteria that cause citrus canker disease.

"Typically around this time of year we're already starting to harvest, but because of the hurricane impact last year and the stress on the trees, our crop is going to be later, about a month later, so Wilma would not be good news for us," Pace said.

The bigger fear is that another hurricane could spread the canker-causing bacteria. Citrus canker does not harm humans but disfigures the fruit and causes it to drop prematurely to the ground.

Florida has fought for a decade to halt its spread by burning citrus trees within 1,900 feet of an infected tree in an eradication campaign that has already cost commercial growers 6 percent of their trees. Regulators had hoped to eradicate the canker by the spring of 2007.

"If we have another storm, it could spread canker around more," Pace said, adding, "There's not really a whole lot you can do."

Commodity analyst Judy Ganes of J. Ganes Consulting said the storm could also batter sugarcane farms in Florida.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's monthly supply/demand report in October, Florida is the top sugar producer in the country.

USDA forecast Florida output in the 2005/06 marketing year (August/July) at 1.913 million short tons, up from 1.692 million short tons in 2004/05.

Damage to Florida would come hard on the heels of Hurricane Rita lashing and flooding sugarcane fields in Louisiana, which is second to Florida for sugar in the United States.

Cane industry officials in Louisiana said that up to 75 percent of production could be lost in areas where Rita's surge hit hardest. Louisiana is projected to produce 1.152 million short tons of sugar in 2005/06, down from last season's 1.16 million short tons.

USDA said in the same production report that Florida's citrus industry, which harvests three-fourths of U.S. citrus fruit, will produce 190 million (90-lb) boxes in 2005/06.

That is up from the hurricane-hit crop of 149.6 million boxes in 2004/05 but sharply lower from a harvest of over 240 million boxes in the previous season.

In addition, Miami is a key coffee port of the United States. It is one of four ports receiving coffee for delivery at the New York Board of Trade. The others are New Orleans, New York and Houston.

NYBOT said that as of October 17, there are 498,735 bags of coffee in Miami, with another 1,050 bags awaiting grading.

The U.S. Green Coffee Association said in its monthly report that there are 786,597 60-kg bags of coffee in all of Miami, the third highest stockpile behind New York and New Orleans.

NYBOT has suspended the licenses of four warehouses in storm-hit New Orleans because the coffee there had been damaged by floods spawned by Hurricane Katrina when it struck the U.S. Gulf port city in late August.

(With additional reporting by Rene Pastor in New York)

    Monster Wilma menaces Florida citrus and sugar crops, R, 19.10.2005, http://today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=domesticNews&storyID=2005-10-19T132656Z_01_ROB946869_RTRUKOC_0_US-HURRICANES-WILMA-FLORIDA.xml

 

 

 

 

 

Record-breaking Hurricane Wilma

heads for Florida

 

Wed Oct 19, 2005 8:39 AM ET
Reuters

 

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Most of the major weather models still predicted on Wednesday that Hurricane Wilma, the strongest hurricane in terms of barometric pressure ever recorded in the Atlantic, would strike Florida later this week.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said in an advisory at 8 a.m. EDT that an aircraft crew confirmed the storm's record low pressure of 882 millibars. That's the lowest since Hurricane Gilbert registered an 888 millibar reading in 1988.

The NHC said the storm's maximum sustained winds were near 175 miles per hour, with higher gusts, making Wilma a potentially catastrophic Category 5 storm on the Saffir-Simpson scale.

The NHC said fluctuations in intensity are common in hurricanes this intense and are likely over the next 24 hours.

The weather models show the storm moving from the Caribbean Sea northwest to the waters between Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula and western Cuba, where it is projected to turn northeast toward the south-central Gulf Coast of Florida.

Wilma will probably spare U.S. oil and natural gas rigs and refineries on the Gulf of Mexico which had been badly battered by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in late August and September.

The center of the storm was located about 340 miles southeast of Cozumel, Mexico, the NHC said. Wilma was moving west-northwest at nearly 8 mph with a turn toward the northwest expected during the next 24 hours.

The NHC will issue an advisory at 11 a.m. Position: Lat. 17.2 degrees North

Long. 82.8 degrees West

(340 miles southeast of Cozumel, Mexico) Track: West-northwest near 8 mph Strength: 175 mph maximum sustained winds

LATEST FORECAST POSITIONS AND MAXIMUM WINDS

INITIAL 19/0900Z 17.2N 82.5W 150 KT

12HR VT 19/1800Z 17.7N 83.4W 150 KT

24HR VT 20/0600Z 18.5N 84.7W 145 KT

36HR VT 20/1800Z 20.0N 85.5W 140 KT

48HR VT 21/0600Z 21.0N 85.7W 130 KT

72HR VT 22/0600Z 22.5N 86.0W 115 KT

96HR VT 23/0600Z 26.5N 81.0W 90 KT...INLAND 120HR VT 24/0600Z 33.0N 72.0W 70 KT



(NOTES -- Second column shows date and GMT time. To convert GMT time to EDT, subtract 4 hours. Third and fourth column show coordinates. Fifth column shows maximum sustained speed in knots. 1 knot = 1.15 mph. 34 knots or greater is tropical storm strength. 64 knots or greater is hurricane strength. U.S. offshore oil and natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico is concentrated north of 27 degrees North and west of 88 degrees West.)

Record-breaking Hurricane Wilma heads for Florida, R, 19.10.2005, http://today.reuters.com/news/NewsArticle.aspx?type=topNews&storyID=2005-10-19T123846Z_01_ROB945487_RTRUKOT_0_TEXT0.xml&related=true

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Related > Anglonautes > History > Early 21st century

 

Hurricane Katrina > 2-11 September 2005

 

Hurricane Katrina > 12 September - 30 November 2005

 

Hurricane Katrina > Maps

 

Hurricane Katrina > Picayune frontpages

 

Hurricane Katrina > Diaspora

 

Hurricane Katrina > Rebuilding

 

Hurricane Katrina > Aftermath

 

 

 

 

 

Related > Anglonautes > Vocapedia > Natural disasters

 

hurricanes, storms > floods

 

 

hurricanes > victims, death, destruction, damage

 

 

hurricanes > evacuees, refugees, displaced people

 

 

hurricanes > relief

 

 

hurricanes > recovery, rebuilding

 

 

 

 

 

Related > Anglonautes > Vocapedia > Weather > Hurricanes

 

hurricanes

 

 

hurricanes > Harvey - Houston - 2017

 

 

hurricanes > Maria - Dominica, Puerto Rico - 2017

 

 

 

 

 

Related

 

The Guardian > Hurricane Katrina timeline        UK

– how the disaster unfolded 10 years ago - 17 August 2015

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/ng-interactive/2015/aug/17/
hurricane-katrina-timeline

 

 

The Guardian > After Katrina: New Orleans then and now        UK

– interactive photographs - 13 August 2015

http://www.theguardian.com/cities/2015/aug/13/
after-katrina-new-orleans-then-and-now-interactive-photographs

 

 

NPR > hurricane Katrina: 10 years of recovery and reflection

http://www.npr.org/series/429056277/
hurricane-katrina-10-years-of-recovery-and-reflection

 

 

USA Today > Hurricane Katrina > Full Coverage

https://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/hurricane.htm  

 

 

 

home Up