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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 October 2005, 11:10 GMT 12:10 UK
Hurricane Wilma: Readers' updates
A fisherman moves his rowboat through flooded streets in Guanimar, Cuba

BBC News website readers in the path of Hurricane Wilma have been describing their experiences ahead of its arrival and in its wake.

They hope to provide us with continued updates. However, due to phone lines and internet connections being severely affected, there may be a delay.

CHRISTINE ZGONINA, MARCO ISLAND, FLORIDA, TUESDAY 1000 GMT

My father and I are making the rounds of the properties my family owns and maintains.

It is a miracle our family home on a main waterway in Marco Island is safe, as Wilma's eye first hit 10 miles south of Marco Island, 22 miles south of Naples.

Its survival may be due to the stricter building codes that were adopted as a result of Hurricane Charley.

However, some of our other properties on the island, all gulf-facing, have been less fortunate.

Patio doors and bedroom windows have been shattered, blowing strong winds and heavy rains into each apartment.

Roughly 70% of all the surrounding trees have been uprooted and have fallen into the gardens, and onto garages and front entrances.

It is devastating. But we will recover.

KATARINA HUNT, STUART, FLORIDA, MONDAY 2200 GMT

The storm has passed over but we are still without power.

After the eerie calm of the eye, the storm was more intense.

There are many trees down and structural damage.

We have never experienced such violent weather - 100 mph plus winds.

We have been evacuated from our apartment and are sheltering at our office, which luckily is hurricane proof and built to withstand 140 mph winds.

What is surprising now is how cold it has become.

This is welcome after the intense humidity we have been experiencing.

ALEXANDER SILVER, PALM BEACH GARDENS, FLORIDA, MONDAY 1510 GMT

The eye of the hurricane is over us now.

It is really eerie.

The trees are either broken or completely bent.

We have no power but we do still have a telephone line.

The rest of the hurricane will strike soon.

JANE BOX, FORT MYERS, FLORIDA, MONDAY 0600 GMT

We've finally got our act together and hunkered down as instructed by the local emergency services.

Until now we've had a "will we or won't we" attitude about putting up the storm shutters - because, believe me, it's a lot of hard work.

But on Sunday afternoon I got my two teenage sons to give me a hand and we spent two hours putting them up.

We then did the rounds of friends, helping them with theirs.

In our community of around 220 homes, about 85 per cent have erected their shutters - either aluminium made-to-measure, or plyboard from the local DIY store.

There are English people across the road from us who are here on holiday - they were very generous in their help with putting up the neighbours' shutters.

There is a real "calm before the storm" mentality at the moment.

Life does go on, but not at the moment.

The kids are going stir-crazy hanging round for the inevitable, and are bored to tears.

Most people want it to be over with.

THOMAS WILKINSON, PLAYA DEL CARMEN, MEXICO, SATURDAY 0900 GMT

After the worst day and night, the weather has quietened to just light rain.

My house lost the back door and the water cistern tank from the roof filled the living area downstairs with approximately six inches of water.

There are many houses nearby with shattered windows and flood damage and many outer limit walls surrounding these houses have been demolished.

After speaking to the neighbours, we can count ourselves very lucky, after almost eight hours of battering winds and rain.

Unfortunately I have been unable to venture into the town of Playa del Carmen because of the uprooted trees on the roads.

One saving grace was that I managed to speak to my family back in England to give them an update and say I was well, before we lost power.

HARRIET JUDD, PLAYA DEL CARMEN, MEXICO, FRIDAY 1530 GMT

It's definitely approaching hurricane weather outside. Conditions are really quite severe.

Wilma must be almost here now.

The rain and wind are really beating against the window.

We heard a mighty clatter of breaking glass just moments ago. I'm not sure if it was a window in the hotel but it was very loud whatever it was.

There is very little visibility now, not that we can see anything anyway as we have barricaded the windows with mattresses and furniture.

The power has also just gone out, which makes it even darker in our room.

I feel pretty safe now, but who knows what I'll be like later.

The fact that the electricity is gone makes me a bit more worried.

We have been confined to our room for almost 12 hours already, since a curfew was imposed at 2330 last night, and we're not sure how long we could be in here.

We were given ration packs last night for two meals, as well as candles and matches.

We filled waste bins with water as well just in case the water stops running.

It looks like it could be a long day.

RICHARD KENDALL, SHELTER OUTSIDE CANCUN, MEXICO, FRIDAY 1240 GMT

To be honest I'm not sure exactly where we are.

All I know is it's a primary school about five miles inland from Cancun that has been turned into a makeshift shelter.

I am on holiday here with seven family members. We were evacuated from our hotel in Cancun at 1900 local time on Thursday.

The staff at the hotel told us to grab our stuff and we were evacuated by police, along with 500 other guests.

About 50 of us were taken to this school in buses and there are about 15-20 people in each classroom.

The other guests were taken to more makeshift shelters in the area.

Under the circumstances the conditions indoors here are fine. It's dry, it's warm and we have food and water.

Outdoors things are really starting to pick up now.

The winds are really gusting and there is regular thunder and lightening.

I'm not worried at all though. I feel safe here, but I felt safe at the hotel as well.

There's nothing you can do about it but take shelter.

HARRIET AND IAN JUDD, PLAYA DEL CARMEN, MEXICO, FRIDAY 0030 GMT

We are still awaiting the storm.

It's gusty outside but overall it's not too bad, yet.

People are still milling around waiting to be told to go to their own rooms.

Pic: Harriet Judd
Windows are being taped up...
When the storm is over we will hear three whistle blasts for the all clear.

Again, everyone remains calm here and the staff are very reassuring.

The hotel is still preparing for Wilma.

Windows are being boarded and taped up, as you can see from my pictures.

HARRIET AND IAN JUDD, PLAYA DEL CARMEN, MEXICO, THURSDAY 1750 GMT

There are only a few more hours to go before Hurricane Wilma hits - it's all a waiting game.

The weather is rainy, on and off. It's very warm and the sea is very choppy.

Pic: Harriet Judd
...and boarded up in homes and businesses
We have been told this afternoon to stay in our rooms, with mattresses and furniture propped up against the windows.

The ground floor is expected to flood. We are on the first floor.

The hotel will turn off the electricity and water supply for a short period during the storm and we are being asked to keep phone lines clear.

Despite all this, the lobby bar in the hotel is full of people in good spirits, with beers all round - personally I'm on the water!

HARRIET AND IAN JUDD, PLAYA DEL CARMEN, MEXICO, THURSDAY 1600 GMT

Playa Del Carmen, Thursday. Picture by Harriet Judd
Playa Del Carmen awaits the arrival of Hurricane Wilma...
We are on our honeymoon here.

The staff at our hotel have been preparing since early Wednesday morning for Hurricane Wilma.

They have boarded up the main windows, removed anything not fixed to the ground and are doing well to keep us informed.

It seems many have left. I feel no need to do this as the hotel is concrete and sturdy.

We have internet access so hopefully we will still be able to check the storm's progress and keep in contact with family back in the UK.

Harriet and Ian Judd with friends Nicola and Craig Hurst
...but spirits remain high
We don't experience hurricanes of this magnitude back home and we think it will make our honeymoon more memorable.

Our tour operator is also doing a good job, putting notes through our doors and updating notice boards whenever there is something new to inform us.

So we are going to enjoy our day no matter what.

The people who have remained here are positive and in good spirits.

HUGO ORTIZ, CANCUN, MEXICO, THURSDAY From BBCMundo.com

We are preparing for whatever comes.

I have come back from Isla Mujeres [an island just off the coast] and Parque Garrafon [ecological park on Isla Mujeres] is preparing to receive the impact of the hurricane.

The tide is now a bit strong but there's nothing to worry about yet.

We, the inhabitants of Cancun, are calm and always listen to the authorities.

We are protecting those things that are most vulnerable, such as gas stations, satellite TV dishes and so on.

We also are stocking up on provisions - water and other essentials - in order to last for four days.

I experienced the intensity of Hurricane Gilberto in 1988, when I lived with my parents.

Now I have to take care of my own family.

RAJ, PLAYA DEL CARMEN, MEXICO, THURSDAY

The region is on "Orange Alert" and will likely to go to "Red Alert".

We expect the storm to go eight miles to the west of us, but it may still be hurricane strength here.

As a precaution we have stocked up on three days' food and water.

The local authorities will cut the electricity to avoid fires from falling electric wires.

The telephone system may also be cut.

No one is worried but everyone is a little jumpier than usual!

SANJEEV SINHA, SOUTH MIAMI, FLORIDA, THURSDAY

This hurricane is a weird one because it is on a diagonal path.

This means one would have to drive out of the state completely into Georgia or go towards the panhandle, in the north of the state, to feel safe.

I live in a flood-prone zone so getting out of here is the only option.

People are taking it seriously here. Better to be safe than sorry.

I have already seen a long line at a petrol station, with desperate people trying to make sure they escape to a secure location.

But it looks like driving is the only option as all airports are full.

I have groceries, bottled water, some clothes, and toiletries.

I also have already secured my important documents which I will make copies of today and put in a box.

I don't think I will simply be coming back here in a day or two once the hurricane blasts through. It may take longer than that to be able to return.

JIM JANEK, BONITA SPRINGS, FLORIDA, THURSDAY

We are making plans to flee to Georgia.

We put plywood on our front windows and closed our aluminium hurricane shutters on the rear of our unit.

We are 11 feet above sea level and fear a surge that will flood our home, as we are on a creek that leads into the Gulf of Mexico.

We are taking the dog and the cat, along with food and 10 gallons (37 litres) of water with us.

Georgia is about 300 miles due north.

Out of about 160 housing units on our street only about five will be staying behind.

Canned meat and food that can be eaten without cooking have disappeared from supermarket shelves along with bottled water.

Petrol stations are doing a brisk business as everyone is topping off their tanks in preparation to leave.

Everyone is calm, but making their preparations. All air flights out are filled.

DAVID WHEATON, GEORGE TOWN, GRAND CAYMAN, WEDNESDAY

Conditions have been very much as predicted, with frequent strong winds accompanied by torrential rain.

There is quite a lot of flooding but fortunately because Grand Cayman is very flat we do not get the terrible flash floods experienced by Jamaica.

It also seems that there is some debris to be cleared up, but I imagine life will be pretty much back to normal soon.

Some of the supermarkets actually opened late this afternoon although from reports, driving conditions were atrocious, if not dangerous.

If the storm continues on its present track it looks as though we may have dodged the bullet. Just as well.

It is questionable whether the island could have recovered from another direct hit by a powerful hurricane, so soon after the devastation caused by Hurricane Ivan, which stretched our resources - physical, mental, and financial - to the limit.

JANE BOX, FORT MYERS, FLORIDA, WEDNESDAY

Most people here are slightly numb from the fact that we are waiting for such a big hurricane.

Local people have been out panic buying for the last few days.

The queues are long at every petrol station and most bottled water has already disappeared from the supermarket shelves.

We have our "hurricane kit" at the ready - water, batteries, torches, gas for the barbecue and first aid kit.

Soon - unless Wilma decides to wander off somewhere else - we will put up our hurricane shutters and bring in all the patio furniture, plant pots and anything that might blow around in the wind.

The bathtubs will also be filled with water in case there's a problem with the water supply. At least we'll be able to flush the toilet!

This year I had been very creative with the Halloween decorations and turned my front porch into a giant spider's web, complete with a huge dangly spider.

Now I'll have to get the step ladder our and take it all down again, which is a bit disheartening!

Last year we were lashed by Hurricane Charley, which was exciting except for the loss of electricity, which meant no air conditioning.

But this year we are more prepared and have invested in a petrol-powered generator so at least we can run a few fans, a small TV and keep the fridge/freezer going.

The next couple of days are crucial, but most people are prepared for the worst.

PATRICK SHEEHY, HOMESTEAD, FLORIDA, WEDNESDAY

There is a sense here of "all quiet on the western front", or should I say "the calm before the storm".

Having survived Hurricane Andrew, by the grace of God, I am committed and prepared for the inevitable with Hurricane Wilma.

The heavy steel shutters are secured and generators are in place.

I have come to the understanding that the storm is not the terrifying component, it is the anxiety of waiting for it and the devastation that has to be dealt with in the aftermath.

I must say this though, the power of these hurricanes is no match for the sense of solidarity here as we band together to help each other through this.

ARNALDO CORO ANTICH, HAVANA, CUBA, WEDNESDAY

Cuba is getting ready to deal with what is now the most powerful hurricane of the season approaching our archipelago.

Preparations here in western Cuba are now being rushed to completion, with tens of thousands of people living along the coastline of both islands being evacuated.

The Isle of Youth, south of Cuba is expected to be the first to receive the tropical storm winds and heavy rains.

Wilma has a huge cloud pattern and is described by our weather experts as a "wet hurricane" making it even more dangerous.


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