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Tuesday, September 14, 1999 Published at 05:19 GMT 06:19 UK


World: Americas

Media in awe of Floyd's power

Residents boarded up their houses before leaving for higher ground

Awe inspired media across the US are reporting on one of the most powerful storms ever to threaten the country as it approaches the Florida coast.

Comparisons are being made to Hurricane Andrew, which devastated the region in 1992. But the present Hurricane Floyd is said to be even bigger.

"Civil defense authorities announced sweeping evacuations...as Hurricane Floyd developed greater catastrophic power than Hurricane Andrew," said the Miami Herald in its lead story.

"And it grew much larger. And it prowled ever closer to the state," it added.

"This is a really intense beast," it quoted Jerry Jarrell, director of the National Hurricane Center as saying.

"This is enough to really scare us out of our wits. You have an absolute catastrophe out there heading in this direction. If it doesn't turn, we could all get hammered," Mr Jarrell said.

Frightening scale

The size of the storm has inspired awe and raised concern throughout the Florida coast. Newspapers referred constantly to the strength of Floyd.


[ image: A satellite images illustrates the size of the approaching storm]
A satellite images illustrates the size of the approaching storm
"For now, the storm is so massive and powerful that it almost defies description," wrote the Washington Post. "Its 155 mph winds place it on the borderline between a Category 4 and Category 5 storm on the Saffir-Simpson scale, with 5 the strongest," it noted.

Evacuation

Several newspapers reported that some one million residents along the Atlantic coast were ordered to evacuate.


[ image: People are stocking up on essentials]
People are stocking up on essentials
Others reported of frenzied preparations to secure houses before leaving for higher ground.

"From the Miami homeowner rushing out to buy plywood to protect his windows to the guardians of the nation's four multibillion-dollar space shuttles housed at the Kennedy Space Center...residents of the most vulnerable areas of Floyd's projected track worked...to get ready for a storm that could be historic in its size and intensity," the Post reported.

Much attention focussed on the Cape Canaveral evacuation, the first time the Nasa space centre would be left completely empty.

"Three of the shuttles are in the shuttle hanger, which is designed to withstand wind of only up to 105 mph," said the New York Times. "Four multimillion-dollar rockets were on launch pads and can't be moved," it said.

But for most Florida residents, the immediate concern was their safety and security.

"June Manstandrea, whose home was destroyed by Andrew, said she was already prepared for Floyd and was doing some last minute food shopping for friends," reported USA Today.

"'I am ready,' she said. 'I'm too busy to think about it. If I do I'll start to cry.'"



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