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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 September, 2004, 13:02 GMT 14:02 UK
Reporters' Log: Hurricane Ivan
Hurricane Ivan has skirted Cuba and left a trail of destruction in Jamaica and Grenada, leading to the deaths of more than 60 people across the Caribbean. It has now hit Alabama in the United States where fierce winds and heavy rains are battering the coastline.

Reporters for the BBC are around the region recording the progress of the storm and how people are coping.

Matt Frei :: Mobile, Alabama :: Thursday 1538GMT

The destruction was not as bad as predicted.

The still deserted streets are littered with felled trees, traffic lights ripped from their power lines and torn billboards.

Electricity has been cut to hundreds of thousands of homes along the coastline and the outriders of the hurricane continue to lash the region with heavy winds and rain.

The worst damage appears to have been eastern Alabama and north western Florida. It is here that at least eight people were killed and most of the structural damage was done.

This part of the United States is well prepared for hurricanes and yet no one here is breathing a sigh of relief. The storm season continues. Ivan has gone, but Jean is coming.

Daniella Relph :: Mobile, Alabama :: Thursday 1210GMT

The light is just coming up here which will make things easier for emergency workers.

We're seeing the first vehicles on the road. They are police vehicles and they are roaming the highways here to try and make some assessment of how bad the damage is. It's simply been too dangerous to go out on the roads until now

Daniella Relph :: Mobile, Alabama :: Thursday 1015GMT

We've come slightly inland now, away from the main force of the hurricane so that we were able to stay broadcasting.

Conditions are very, very poor and we're expecting these winds to stay put for some hours to come.

Daniella Relph :: Mobile, Alabama :: Thursday 0725GMT

The worst of Hurricane Ivan has now hit the port of Mobile in Alabama.

Ferocious, swirling winds and heavy rains are battering the coastline.

In the Mobile area a hundred-thousand people have been without power for hours.

The governor of Alabama has instated a curfew in Mobile and anyone who remains in the city has been told to stay inside.

More than two-million people have heeded advice and left their homes to move inland. Many are crammed into local high schools being used as emergency shelters.

Matt Frei :: Mobile, Alabama :: Thursday 0110GMT

My hotel is jam-packed, along with every other hotel in town, as people seek shelter from the storm.

There are no cars on the road; all have been moved into underground car parks or out of town. It is an extremely eerie atmosphere.

Daniella Relph :: Louisiana/Alabama border::
Wednesday 1616GMT

There is a real sense of unease, even fear, among many living here.

The eye of the storm is due to hit Mobile in Alabama in a few hours' time. Winds are forecast to gust at around 220 kilometres an hour, and coastal communities have been evacuated.

The mayor of New Orleans told residents to leave the city or, failing that, to opt for what he called "vertical evacuation."

Fearing flooding, he has advised people to move into hotels and high-rise buildings and warned them not to mess with the powerful force of nature.

Michael Buchanan :: Washington:: Tuesday 2249GMT

New Orleans is slowly emptying.

Bumper to bumper traffic has clogged major north-bound roads as residents take heed of dire warnings forecasting up to 20 feet of chemically polluted water submerging the city's million or so residents.

Similar precautions are being taken by residents and tourists in coastal communities in Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, which is preparing to be hit by a hurricane for the third time in just over a month.

The hurricane is expected to hit the United States either late on Wednesday or on Thursday morning.

Stephen Gibbs :: Havana :: Tuesday 0357GMT

There's a sense of relief in Cuba as this country sees the back of Hurricane Ivan.

The damage resulting from nearly 24 hours of very high winds and torrential rain has yet to be assessed, but everyone knows that it could have been much worse.

Fortunately for Cuba, Ivan's path drifted further to the west than originally forecast. The subtle change of route may have serious consequences for Cuba's neighbours.

By not crossing land, the hurricane has managed to retain its power as it heads into the Gulf of Mexico.

Mark Alden :: Miami :: Tuesday 0221GMT

A curfew is tonight in place in the Cayman Islands after Hurricane Ivan tore through the British territory causing extensive damage and flooding.

Winds of more than 156mph (250km/h) kilometres an hour pounded the islands on Sunday night, demolishing buildings including official shelters.

The centre of the category five hurricane passed within thirty miles of Grand Cayman, the largest of the three islands in the British territory of 45,000 people.

Eyewitnesses speak of homes and offices being torn down like matchsticks. Floodwaters were reported to be as high as six metres in places and swept away trucks, cars and boats.

Stephen Gibbs :: Havana :: Monday 2202GMT

All day wind and rain has been lashing the far west of Cuba and the worst is yet to come, as the eye of Hurricane Ivan gets ever closer to the mainland.

But the early signs are that the storm's westerly path might just spare Cuba the devastation experienced by some of its neighbours.

Its most violent winds are still out to sea. The main concern for the Cuban authorities now is the torrential rain which is expected to continue for hours.

Stephen Gibbs :: Havana :: Monday 1650 GMT

Hurricane Ivan is expected to pass by the western tip of Cuba within the coming hours.

The winds and the seas are beginning to pick up along the southern coast of Cuba as the hurricane approaches. Its route has drifted west.

It's now thought possible that the eye of the storm will just miss the Cuban mainland before heading into the Gulf of Mexico, but it hasn't finished with the Caribbean yet.

The hurricane's 160mph (260km/h) winds and torrential rains are expected to cause significant damage to Cuba's western fringes.

The Cuban government says it's moved tens of thousands of people in the region to safety. Some crops have been harvested early and placed in secure storage.

Daniel Lak :: Miami :: Monday 1455 GMT

Hurricane Ivan has brought devastation to the Caribbean... but it has finally brought what could be a bit of good news here in Florida.

People were expecting to be hit by the hurricane, but the latest news seems to indicate that Ivan will not hit South Florida, which has already suffered twice from hurricanes Charley and Frances.

Those two did $10bn (5.6bn) worth of damage. Dozens of people were killed. There were hundreds of casualties.

So there is really an air of relief here - people are taking down storm shutters, schools are opening up for business again, mandatory evacuation orders are being lifted.

But there's still a chance the hurricane could hit somewhere in the north of the state, so Florida could not be said to be totally off hurricane watch yet.

Stephen Gibbs :: Havana :: Monday 0530 GMT

For a week Cubans have known that Hurricane Ivan is coming closer. Now they can feel it.

Across the island the wind is picking up as the storm edges nearer, but the predictions of where it will strike are changing all the time.

The current forecast takes its eye across Cuba's westernmost tip. The area is a nature reserve and almost unpopulated, but the authorities are warning Cubans not to be complacent.

Most Cubans are spending the last few hours before the storm arrives to protect their homes as best they can before sitting and waiting for it all to be over.

Stephen Gibbs :: Havana :: Sunday 2030 GMT

Cayman Islands' residents who have managed to get messages out speak of terrifying scenes of roofs being ripped off buildings and homes collapsing.

Much of Grand Cayman is underwater, including the runway of the country's international airport.

At least one of the shelters, where thousands of people are crammed into, has been badly damaged.

The British territory is famed as an affluent, offshore banking centre, but it seems that many of its best-constructed buildings have failed to stand up to the power of Ivan.

The destruction in the Caymans is a final warning for Cuba, next target in Ivan's path.

Stephen Gibbs :: Havana :: Sunday 1651 GMT

President Fidel Castro has made repeated appearances on state television, calling on people to show discipline in this time of crisis and obey the instructions of civil defence authorities.

Underground tunnels, originally built to help defend Cuba in case of invasion, are being opened up for use as shelters.

There is some hope that Ivan will spare the capital, Havana, instead crossing Cuba's western corner, its prime tobacco growing area.

Stephen Gibbs :: Havana :: Sunday 0725 GMT

The key thing that the Cuban government is doing is moving people out of the way; the problem so far has been that no-one has really known quite where Ivan is going to hit.

There seems to be a bit of a consensus now among the forecasters that it's going to hit Cuba on the western tip, and it's from there that Cuba is doing what it's best at, and that is moving people out of harm's way.

The way it does it is it sends buses and civil defence officials to the towns and villages on that southern coast and tells people to get on board and get out of the way.

There isn't really much choice in the matter - unlike in other countries in this region people just do what they're told and get out of the way; they go and live either in their friends' houses or family houses or in government shelters.

I don't think there's any panic here in Havana. The only panic really has been panic-buying, in terms of provisions like non-perishable foods that people have been getting hold of because one of the other things that experience teaches Cubans is that after a hurricane often the electricity is down for weeks.

Ian Pannell :: Kingston :: Sunday 0638 GMT

Jamaica is starting to assess the damage to life and property on the island. There's some relief that Hurricane Ivan's course changed in the final moments, keeping the harshest winds offshore.

Still, the damage has been widespread. Trees and telegraph poles ripped from the earth, power lines pulled down.

Jamaica is still without electricity and many places are without water.

The country's two international airports aren't scheduled to reopen until Monday, while the business of repair gets under way.

As Hurricane Ivan move northwards, intense driving rain followed in its wake.

Flooding is continuing to be the main problem for Jamaicans, with many communities just cut off from the rest of the island.

This means that any full assessment of the impact of the storm is still some way off. One government minister warned there could be some unpleasant surprises ahead.

Stephen Gibbs :: Havana :: Sunday 0001 GMT

The Cuban government is putting its well-practiced evacuation plans into practice. In what resembles a military operation, tens of thousands of people along the vulnerable south coast are being moved to safer areas.

In Havana, civil defence organisations are ordering people in the capital's many exposed vulnerable buildings to stay with friends or family or move to government shelters. The option to stay behind is not offered.

In the last hours before they close, shops have been packed with people stocking up on non-perishable food. Many expect to be without electricity for weeks.

Cubans are also gathering planks of wood from wherever they can to help protect their homes.

Ian Pannell :: Kingston :: Saturday 2200 GMT

Jamaicans have begun counting the cost of Hurricane Ivan. The damage to infrastructure is widespread.

But many parts of the island remain impassable so a full and accurate assessment of the casualties and damage will take some time.

There have been a number of reports of looting, though the police have been primarily concerned with rescue work.

In one case, they delivered a baby boy. The mother hasn't named him yet, but she's ruled out calling him Ivan.

Declan Lawn :: western Jamaica :: Saturday 1837 GMT

After a period of relative calm this morning here in western Jamaica, Hurricane Ivan seems to have returned in force.

It is now blowing with more violence than at any time during last night.

I am looking at trees being uprooted and strips of roof are starting to peel off buildings.

Residents of western Jamaica must have felt just a few hours ago that they had seen the worst of Ivan, but this idiosyncratic and unpredictable storm has proved them sadly wrong.

Declan Lawn :: western Jamaica :: Saturday 1648 GMT

In western Jamaica it is the morning after the night before and it is a night that will live in the memory here for generations. The wind is still strong, hurricane force, but it is expected to dissipate over the next few hours.

But with it has come the rain, a torrential downpour already covering the grounds of this hotel in four inches of water. Jamaica is a country susceptible to flash floods and this looks set to be the main danger here over the next few days.

With many rural areas cut off from the outside world, it could take several days for troops and police to get in and assess the damage.

But with trees uprooted and damage to buildings and urban areas, Jamaicans are now praying that those who stayed away from the shelters managed to weather this ferocious storm.

Ivan will be remembered here as a hurricane that could have been more terrible, but which nevertheless struck in the dead of night and with a vengeance. Now the long recovery begins.

Declan Lawn :: western Jamaica :: Saturday 1250 GMT

As dawn broke over western Jamaica, residents were able to see what they'd been hearing all night - awesome hurricane force winds pounding the coastline, bending trees and tossing heavy branches through the air.

The wind here remains extremely violent.

But as yet we haven't experienced a further deterioration which would signal the approach of the eye of the storm.

Its path has been veering wildly during this ferocious and terrifying night.

Now residents here are waiting to see if the worst is over or if it's yet to come.

In any event, the wind of the last few hours will have wreaked devastation on the many insubstantial dwellings in this area.

Later today when people in this part of Jamaica are once again able to venture outside, the full cost of this hurricane will start to be counted.

For now, we're simply using the first light of day to peek outside at the power of a major hurricane.

Massive gusts of wind are still causing even the sturdiest of buildings to shudder and the sea is an angry cauldron of water, pushing up onto the shore and then falling back several feet.

The next three hours will tell us if Hurricane Ivan is now finished with this area, or if it has one last surprise for the beleaguered residents of western Jamaica.

Declan Lawn :: Negril :: Saturday 0850 GMT

We're still in the middle of a long and at times terrifying night here. It now seems as if we're entering the core of the hurricane.

The wind outside is at a ferocious roar and coming in long, powerful bursts, each one shaking the concrete structure of our hotel on its foundations.

Even stepping outside for an instant would mean serious injury or worse.

Hurricane Ivan has arrived in all its fury and it's terrible indeed.

Across the island, reports are emerging of obliterated housing.

It's too early to gauge the scale of the devastation or even estimate the human cost, but morning will bring realisation and one can only assume now, tragedy.

Here on the west coast, we only know that the worst has yet to come. The centre of the hurricane is moving steadily towards us.

Outside, the roaring wind is rising in pitch to something approaching a scream.

At the centre of Ivan, there is nothing to do but wait and shelter as one of the most ferocious tropical storms in living memory tears a path of unthinkable destruction.

Nina Robinson :: Kingston :: Saturday 0700 GMT

Constant pelting rains has been lashing Jamaica for hours now. It's been causing flooding in many areas and threats of landslides.

Tall trees with thick trunks have been blown over easily in the hurricane winds.

There is no water coming through the taps in houses, the electricity grid has also been shut down.

It's the dead of night, so Jamaica is in complete darkness.

Roofs have been blown away already and there are reports of people in great distress outside.

Rescue workers have been trying to reach them, but they're having to cope with blocked roads and winds which are howling and very dangerous at this stage.

Locals have been talking of the roaring wind and the air smelling of sea salt. Jamaicans are hoping to make it through the night and waiting for the morning, when they can actually see the extent of the damage.

Declan Lawn :: Negril :: Saturday 0540 GMT

Here in Negril, in the far-west of Jamaica, we've been experiencing ferocious winds which rose quickly over the course of just a few hours.

Trees are bending to breaking point and we can feel our concrete building shudder and groan as it's battered by a storm which seems only to be getting worse.

We lost power several hours ago and the tourists who remain in this resort, some of them British, have retreated into their rooms, barricading themselves in with any material they can find.

Ivan has come with brutal force in the dead of night and the radio tells stories of flooded and obliterated houses.

Jamaicans are both praying for the morning and dreading what it will reveal.

Information is scarce, but it does now seem that Ivan has built back up to a category five storm as it hit the coast, the strongest type of hurricane possible.

We also heard that the course of the storm has changed slightly, veering away from Kingston and towards this western coast, dotted by tourist hotels and weak timber-frame houses.

As the winds build even further, people on this side of the island are beginning to fear that they will see the worst of this vicious and humbling hurricane.

Ian Pannell :: Kingston :: Saturday 0500 GMT

I am sitting in my hotel room and the rain is so strong it has driven its way under the French windows some 2.5 metres (eight feet) into the room.

The curtain is flapping as if the doors were open, and the wind is making an incredible booming sound.

The flooding is already causing damage. I have been listening to people on the radio, in a considerable and understandable state of distress as they speak of roofs blowing off and of homes no longer standing.

Nina Robinson :: Kingston :: Saturday 0100 GMT

Winds and rain are really lashing Jamaica now. A huge mango tree outside my window has been blown over. It's hard to believe that the winds will get any stronger - already roofs have been blown off.

There's been a significant increase in the number of people in shelters. There is flooding and some roads are now impassable.

There are also some reports of looting with groups of armed men on the streets.

Declan Lawn :: Negril :: Friday 2310 GMT

I'm working by torchlight now. Thousands are pouring into shelters. The wind is really beginning to make itself felt. Conditions are serious and that will build over the next few hours.

It looks like the storm will be a direct hit.

Ian Pannell :: Kingston :: Friday 2300 GMT

The fringes of Hurricane Ivan have begun to lash Jamaica, with driving rain and intense gusts of howling wind. Waves, two storeys high, have been reported on the exposed eastern shore, where homes and roads are already being damaged by flooding.

Although many of the island's 1,000 shelters have begun to fill, many residents are loathe to leave their homes for fear of looting.

The Jamaican electricity grid has been shut down for safety reasons and only the most dire cases of emergency will be answered. Troops are patrolling the streets, guarding against looters.

Already, the weather on Jamaica is intense and threatening. But the eye of Hurricane Ivan isn't forecast to hit land until early on Saturday morning. This will be a long, sleepless night on Jamaica.

Conrad Hamilton :: Kingston :: Friday 2115 GMT

Widespread reports of fire on utility poles have forced the Jamaica Public Service Company, the main electricity provider to disconnect supplies in several sections of the country.

Frantic calls from residents who saw fires on the utility lines as the heavy winds continue to move through the island.

The Prime Minister has instructed the Governor General to invoke a state of Public Emergency which, among other things, give the security forces extra powers to tackle potential looters and other forms of public disorder.

Trees are now falling into roadways and rivers in most areas are rising rapidly. This situation is leading more persons to evacuate.

Nina Robinson :: Kingston :: Friday 2015 GMT

Heavy downpours are causing flash floods and some roads have become impassable.

Powerful gusts have been felling branches. Electricity is out in many parts of the island including the capital, Kingston.

But as the prime minister warned people earlier, this is just the very beginning of Hurricane Ivan.

Only a few hundred people have come to the shelters. The authorities say that is probably mainly due to the fact that people want to sit the hurricane out in the comfort of their own home.

Conrad Hamilton :: Kingston :: Friday 1930 GMT

Scores of people carrying items of clothing, food and other personal belongings are now streaming into the National Arena in Kingston - one of the largest designated shelters.

Schools and churches are also being used as shelters, as Jamaicans begin to respond to appeals to evacuate their homes, most of which are likely to be devastated by flooding.

The sea has started to batter the shoreline, and to overflow and block roads.

Heavy rainfall in Kingston and the winds in the interior and on the coast have already started to bend trees.

Residents in some communities are now without electricity and water.

Ian Pannell :: Kingston :: Friday 1710 GMT

Jamaica is making its final preparations before Hurricane Ivan hits land.

People have been putting tape and board across windows, filling their cars with petrol and literally tying roofs onto houses with rope.

Most schools and shops are closed. Those that are open are only serving emergency rations. Those who can have fled the island.

Most tourists boarded the last planes out, though some have chosen to stay.

Conrad Hamilton :: Kingston :: Friday 1645 GMT

With Hurricane Ivan a matter of hours away from Jamaica, the country's main disaster relief agency has issued a final appeal for residents of coastal areas to evacuate. Since Thursday scores of residents from communities close to shore or whose houses are deemed to be in poor condition have been urged to relocate to emergency shelters due to the possible threat of storm surges.

Over five hundred thousand people are being encouraged to relocate before the hurricane hits the island. Weather conditions have already started to deteriorate with winds and heavy rainfall being reported in some sections of the country.

Nina Robinson :: Kingston :: Friday 1305 GMT

Hurricane Ivan is getting closer to Jamaica, but is not expected to arrive until later this evening local time - or possibly even tomorrow.

Jamaicans have been evacuated from coastal areas and any people left behind are being told to leave now before conditions deteriorate further.

On Thursday night some residents in Kingston arrived at their local shelter to find the doors closed. Others have refused to leave their homes.

There is also confusion where people can find their nearest shelter. The authorities are transporting Jamaicans from churches to safe places and it is hoped that everyone will be as prepared as they can be for this storm.

Ian Pannell :: Kingston :: Friday 1255 GMT

Hoping for the best but braced for the worst. Jamaica is boarding up and making final preparations for what could be the largest hurricane on record to hit the island. People have stocked up on emergency supplies including food, water and batteries.

On a calm morning like today it's difficult to imagine that the island is facing its worst natural disaster for 50 years. Those that can flee, have. Many tourists have left the island early, though some have chosen to stay and weather the storm.

Ian Pannell :: Kingston :: Friday 0245 GMT

This is shaping up to be the most powerful hurricane on record to ever hit Jamaica. Although the trajectory and intensity of Ivan could change, most forecasters are predicting that it will continue to head for the island, making landfall early on Friday. Jamaicans have been busy preparing for the worst.

All schools, shops and airports have closed and residents are being urged to head for emergency shelters. There have been long queues at supermarkets with people stocking up on water, torches and batteries.

The Jamaican Prime Minister, P J Patterson, addressed the nation, urging people to take the threat seriously but remain calm.

The authorities have made it clear that they will use the police and army to deal with looting and civil disorder.

It is almost 16 years since Jamaica was last struck by a hurricane. This threatens to be the worst natural disaster for 50 years.


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