Hurricane Ike has made landfall on the Gulf coast of Texas, where it is expected to cause "potentially catastrophic" flooding and damage.
BBC News website readers speak about their experience with the storm and their fears -and hopes- as they were preparing for it.
SUNDAY 14 SEPTEMBER
STUART ROBINSON, Austin, Texas
Boats ended up on the roads.
We and the group of storm chasers decided to get out of Galveston as it was becoming too dangerous with the fires and flood water.
We managed to cross Galveston Bridge, but the scenes were devastating. There were about a hundred boats lying across the interstate. They were washed away and just dumped on the road.
We had to drive more than 200 miles to get to a hotel with rooms and electricity, and ended up in Austin. The whole of South Texas has been evacuated and the people who decided to stay face, not days, but weeks without electricity.
The sun came out and the humidity is incredible.
We are very worried about the fishing communities east of Galveston. From what we could see, there is nothing left and whole houses were washed into the sea.
The army and the police usually allow us to follow them, but this time they didn't let us as there is a massive search and rescue operation going on.
A lot of people in the area didn't evacuate.
LOIS NAYLOR, Houston, Texas
I am a British citizen living in West Huston. I have two children who are 11 and 14.
We have no electricity and they say in the news that it could take up to four weeks to return.
We are very luck our house is not damaged an we are all safe and well.
We are living as if we were camping. We are wearing as little as possible as it is now getting warmer, and we are using candles, because it is raining and very dark.
We both charge our mobile phones in the car and use a battery radio to keep us informed on the latest news.
PETER MILNE, Tyler, Texas
Hurricane Ike, or what was left of it, passed over Tyler last night, so we spent most of the day off the streets as trees were falling. Today is pretty calm.
Hotels here are full. Around 6,000 people are staying in hotels, government shelters and churches. Some people are trying to go back home, but I think cities like Houston and Beaumont are not letting people in yet.
It happens every time. Whenever there is a hurricane on the Gulf Coast, people travel north, and this is not a very expensive city and it's very easy to access.
I think this time there was "hurricane fatigue" from people who had evacuated because of Hanna and Gustav, so many people unfortunately chose to stay.
As for us, we were well prepared, and we bought water, canned food and batteries.
SATURDAY 13 SEPTEMBER
OLI SIMPSON, Houston, Texas
I am a shipbroker and have been living in Houston for about three years, and have never witnessed anything like this.
The force of the winds shattered glass windows in high-rise buildings
And people who have lived here much longer than me say Ike has been stronger than anything they've seen before.
I felt relatively safe throughout as I stayed with a friend in a high-rise. We could see it coming in, and then it was fairly loud.
I got to sleep at about 2am and by around 10am it was still raining but the winds had started to die down.
This apartment still has power, but there is none at mine. I think around 80 per cent of Houston is without power.
It's intriguing going out and seeing the aftermath because it seems the winds got caught amongst the high buildings and caused windows to shatter.
It shows the strength of the winds because you would expect buildings like that to withstand such force.
STUART ROBINSON, Galveston, Texas
I am a storm chaser from Leicestershire, I travel the world chasing tornadoes, storms and hurricanes.
Stuart took this picture of Galveston's shore.
Galveston was badly hit. The hospital is under 12 feet of water and there are debris everywhere. Homes and roads have been washed away.
There are many houses on fire, flames are coming out and there is no one to put them out.
People are coming out from their homes slowly. They are in shock, they didn't think it was going to be this way. One man told me that at his house the water was shoulder height.
The water is now receding, but the whole Galveston is in ruins. Houses lost their roofs and the flood defences were overtaken by the waves.
FRIDAY 12 SEPTEMBER
MADDIE OLSON, Texas City, two miles (3km) from coast
The trees are bending, the winds are gusty and are really picking up, and the rain is getting heavier. We've lost power and cable TV. The whole area is without power.
About half of Texas City (population about 50,000) has gone, however our city is not under orders to evacuate.
The seawall is designed to withstand a 17ft (5m) storm surge, but there are fears the surge could be as large as 22ft (7m). Then the whole area will be flooded.
City officials have asked residents to write their social security numbers on their forearms (to identify the bodies). I did mine. I don't expect to die, but it may make someone else's job easier.
CHERYL KENNEDY, La Porte, about 28 miles (45km) inland
Cheryl Kennedy has boarded her house, preparing for Ike
I work in La Porte not more than 25min from Galveston Bay. There was a mandatory evacuation of that area on Thursday.
The nasty side of the storm will pound me. I am afraid. I seem to have become a haven for several of my family. At this point we are housing 13 people, four cats and three dogs...
I was here for Alicia in 1983 but Ike looks to be a little more unpredictable. The speed will cause it to take several hours to pass.
CHRISTINE SMITH-BYERLY, Houston, 45 miles (72km) inland
We are "hunkered down" in our home in west Houston and bracing for a bad time. My parents had a mandatory evacuation from my childhood home on a tributary of Galveston Bay.
Even those BoI (Born of the Island) Galvestonians have never seen anything like this. The storm surge is already over the seawall... Ike is massive. It is not the wind speed that does so much damage, but the storm surge.
Most people in the area followed the mandatory evacuation order, but there are some people who don't understand the storm.
In Port Bolivar, near Galveston, coastguard helicopters rescued 50 people on Friday who tried to escape but just couldn't.