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Last Updated: Monday, 22 September, 2003, 14:35 GMT 15:35 UK
Hurricane Isabel: Your experiences
The east coast of the United States is recovering from hurricane Isabel.

The hurricane left hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses without power and caused widespread flooding.

A state of emergency was declared across much of the region.

Were you in the path of the hurricane? Have you ever experienced a hurricane before? Tell us your stories.

If you have taken any pictures of Hurricane Isabel? Then send them to us at yourpics@bbc.co.uk
Click here for more details.

This debate is now closed. Read your comments below.

Your reaction:

We live right outside Washington in Kensington and lost power from Thursday night till 4 p.m. on Sunday. The upside of this whole experience is that we really got to know our neighbours and are planning a big block party to celebrate our survival of Hurricane Izzy. We want to thank Pepco and the team who came all the way from Savannah, Georgia and other parts of the country. These last 3 days were an exercise in neighbour helping neighbour and it is nice to see that people can come together and help each other out when the going gets tough.
Amit Tonse, USA

I don't think there was any over-reaction
Carol, USA
Living in Maryland for the last 16 years, I have experienced bad weather before. Last year the category 5 tornado that took out the town of La Plata, and my neighbourhood was scary. What made this seem worse was the length of time it lasted. The tornado was over in an hour or two; this hurricane lasted about 12 hours, that's constant high winds and rain. I don't think there was any over-reaction. It was a bad storm and the majority of people made it through, that makes it a success.
Carol, USA

I have lived through three major hurricanes since 1992: Andrew, Floyd and Michelle. I will never hear the wind in quite the same way again. Living with the seeming reality of a direct hit from Isabel was like living with a 160 mph Sword of Damocles hanging over your head for weeks because forecasters were tracking this storm since she came off of Africa. When you live on an island that is 21 miles by 7 miles, it is not a pleasant experience looking forward to being blown out of the ocean or washed off the rock. Conversely, when we saw the miracle that was Isabel turning away and running as close to 400 miles to our east like there was an invisible wall separating us, it was the most amazing euphoria I have ever experienced. Never was the sky bluer, the breeze softer or the sea so bright before. I felt reborn!
Patty Roker, Bahamas

My in-laws live 20 miles inland and they eye passed right over them. As expected, they lost power. Some trees were down. We live in one of Washington's western suburbs. We lost power too. There were several trees down in our neighbourhood. Groups of men with chainsaws and many helpers walked around cutting up trees and clearing debris - later, the town had "chipper" trucks grinding the fallen trees to mulch. One note, to the person complaining about the military leaving: would you risk 500 billion dollars (multiple nuclear aircraft carriers, cruisers, destroyers, submarines, aircrafts valued)? The military and any sensible fleet owner always moves to sea so they can manoeuvre and keep from being smashed against the docks. They acted correctly.
Con Rice, USA

I love a hurricane!
Scott Wassner, Pensacola Beach, FL, USA
I love a hurricane! When one comes I am in awe at its power. Everyone should experience it at least once in their lifetime. I have seen many storms come and go and regret this one didn't make it to Pensacola. I have always enjoyed the before and after of a storm that makes a man take notice that mother nature is still in control of this planet. Even for those of you who prefer not to, don't forget that with a storm comes great fishing.
Scott Wassner, Pensacola Beach, FL, USA

Not hype for us. We were hit very hard here, soem 40 miles west of Washington, DC. Almost every home around us has trees down - the mess is incredible. We have 3 large trees in our yard that went down, none hit our house but some of our neighbors were not so lucky. Our power was off for 21 hours, many are still without power.
Susan, Manassas, Virginia USA

People who live in the path of hurricanes should always be prepared and know what to expect. However, these days Americans are paranoid and over-react about everything.
Luke, Canada

I don't think it was taken too seriously
V. Spencer, USA
My son is in Fairfax County, just out of DC. Their electricity went out last evening and it may take a week to get it back on. Three water plants are not working and they are being advised the water is in critical shortage and may be contaminated. I am 1,000 miles away and thanks to the internet, I can get the information they need and phone it to them. From the postings here, and from the reports he gave me before Isabel hit, I don't think it was taken too seriously. Now, Isabel has changed a lot of minds.
V. Spencer, USA

I just talked to my parents who live in Chowan County, NC. They've just heard that two trees have gone through the roof of their house and it has sustained major damage. Thankfully, they took the warnings seriously, and left town with their cat before the storm hit.
Julia, USA

Why did Congress shut down and the Armed Forces move their equipment to sea or up to Canada? There's been worse storms before this.. and I've never seen this kind of military scaredy cat attitude.
Tom Angelou, NY

The worst of Isabel by-passed Raleigh, NC; we had a great deal of blustery wind, with the trees (and there are lots of them here) whipping around, with shredded leaves, branches and twigs covering everything in sight. Lost power early in the day - and there's not much worse than being under siege by the weather in a house without electricity in the company of a surly 15 year old daughter.
Wendy, Raleigh, North Carolina, USA

I am a British Citizen living in Baltimore Maryland USA. Hurricane Isabel is my second hurricane after the infamous hurricane that devastated southern England in 1987. We were all prepared for Isabel after the mega hype on the television here. There was some heavy rain and strong winds but not as much as they anticipated. The big problem for Baltimore was flooding, and many of the low lying areas around the inner harbour were flooded. Fact is the UK hurricane was worse, which I slept through, had breakfast got in my car and went a 1/4 of a mile to be faced with 4 massive trees down.
Russell Powell, USA

Like Russell Powell (UK) I also encountered the '87 hurricane in the UK as well as Isabel. Here in New Jersey we merely had tropical storm strength winds. There are leaves and branches all over my neighbourhood and a large tree fell down right outside a building at my kids' school. Thankfully it fell across a lawn and not into the school building or across the driveway. Unlike Russell, however, I would not dismiss warnings here as "hype". My other, unmentioned, experience of a hurricane was Floyd back in 1999. We flew into Newark at around the same time as Floyd hit and I can assure Russell that the weather conditions were absolutely dreadful. Like Isabel, Floyd had hit land in the Carolinas but it took the more usual path of heading up the coast before turning back out to sea. Millions of dollars worth of damage was caused in this area even though Floyd had been downgraded to a tropical storm before it hit us.
Jane, UK living in US

I live in Toronto and its been raining since last night. The winds are howling and some power lines are down but its not a bad as I expected.
Manuel, Canada

I can hear the cracking of trees, like mortar bombs, as they give way in the distance. It's nicely wooded here and already I can see a 60 foot fallen pine held up by its neighbours at an odd angle. The wind is strong this afternoon, and will get worse through tonight.
John, Richmond, VA, USA

We are in the centre of the state and don't expect much flooding
Lynn, New Jersey, USA
It's Thursday, 3.45 pm. The Governor has just declared a State of Emergency in NJ, it is raining and the wind is really picking up but the full force hasn't yet hit. The emergency is mostly for those on the ocean side in the east and the Delaware River side on the west - storm surges cause flooding. We are closing at 6pm rather than 9 pm. We are in the centre of the state and don't expect much flooding. Many people with boats took yesterday off to go down to the shore and take them out of the water and bring them inland. Air force bases in NJ and Delaware have evacuated planes to the Mid West. Emergency crews are on standby. It may only brush by us, but even a Category 1 or 2 hurricane can blow down trees or take off a roof. Insurance companies, standby!
Lynn, New Jersey, USA

I tried to get bottled water two days ago but it was sold out everywhere, so was flashlight. With all the warnings on TV I was frightened. Today I did not go to work and watched Isabel arriving through my windows at home. I have to say it is not more scary than typhoons, which I am used to from my upbringing in Hong Kong. I think people are over-reacting a bit. But well, it's always safe than sorry.
Cherry, Raleigh, NC, USA

I work in northern New Jersey. Although we are a distance from the storm, the winds have picked up noticeably during the day. People here are having varying attitudes. Some saying it will pass without any concern, other making all possible preparations. As I leave the US next week, we are holding a "Tim & Isabel Leaving Party" tomorrow night!
J Timothy Hudson, USA

The eye of Isabel is passing to the east of us right now. It's amazing watching the wind blasting so hard at the trees, which are so determined to right themselves. It's at times like this though that you wish you had good brick buildings like you do in the UK, as opposed to the weedy timber framed buildings over here. Good luck to those further to the east.
Mark Glass (Brit), USA

I am preparing for the hurricane by opening the windows in my living room in Oxford, watching the news bulletins on the telly, and enjoying what may the warmest, driest September in England since records began. It is not often here that we get the chance to view poor weather elsewhere rather than moan about our own.
Noam, England

I cleared off the desk and put everything inside
Barbara, US
I don't expect much where I live, but to be safe. I cleared off the desk and put everything inside. I am always prepared with batteries, candles, water, etc. I just hope a tree doesn't come down on my car like the last one.
Barbara, USA

We bought Moroccan spicy sardines and hummus, all in cans, as advised by the DC government. We were going to buy tuna but they only had them in sunflower oil. As you see we are taking all precautions to be ready for the storm.
Amelia, Washington DC

I'm in DC and all I can say is...HYPE! This is not even a major hurricane anymore. Not to mention DC is about 100 miles inland. But that doesn't stop this city from shutting down completely. I used to live in Texas and have been through some real serious hurricanes down there...this one is a baby.
Irwin, Washington, DC US

We have taken the wheels off the car and rest it on blocks
Dara Colleary, US
We have taken the wheels off the car and rest it on blocks. We have also chained it to the large oak tree in the front garden so that it wouldn't float away. We lost a car of ours to flooding three years ago, it literally was swept away. My grandfather believes that if you take the tires off it will it wouldn't be as buoyant, like a kid with arm bands.
Dara Colleary, USA

We are only supposed to get 1-3 inches of rain, but it will come very quickly and with it, high winds. We have a pump in our basement that keeps water out, but if we lose electricity, we lose the pump and our family will then have to bale water. If we lose electricity we also lose water and telephone. We have several gallons of water in our garage and our cell phones are charged. We will fill bathtubs so that we will have water for toilets. My son is taking a walk around the house this morning to make sure all objects that can become projectiles have been moved. Yesterday my son and husband put a tarp over that section of the roof. We have candles, flashlights, batteries, ice, and canned food. We are ready! But I really won't mind if Isabel is a no-show.
Janet Dickson, New Jersey, USA

The media's presentation of this hurricane is fantastic, but nowhere near reality. I went to work today and left at 5pm, as usual. Everybody was calm and joked about the upcoming storm. Yesterday I picked up a few essentials from the grocery store, where I found plenty of food and water. Tomorrow I'll stay home and read a book. Friday it's back to work as usual. I guess reality isn't dramatic enough to make the news.
Shane, Virginia Beach, USA

Forecast bad weather and we drop to our knees!
D. Calandra, USA
In the Washington DC area, everyone is awaiting Isabel's arrival with the usual amount of hype, speculation and media frenzy. There are no bottles of water on the grocery store shelves; bread and milk are in short supply; there are no batteries left for torches.

The Amtrak train system has already announced it is cancelling service starting Wednesday night south of Washington. Washington's Metro system has announced it MAY have to close down! Schools have already announced that they WILL be closed Thursday and Friday. And this before the first drop of rain has fallen. To bring the Nation's Capital to a standstill, forecast bad weather and we drop to our knees!
D. Calandra, USA

In DC, and can't wait! Will be my first hurricane.
John, America

I live near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Even though we live 400 plus miles north of where Isabel is expected to land we are preparing for flash floods and 60 mph gusty winds. It is amazing how much potential destruction this storm has to even those of us that live far inland.
Tim Spigelmyer, USA

This time last week we were watching with fear and trepidation as Hurricane Isabel seemed to be bearing relentlessly down on the Bahama Islands. Then to find out that the rest of the world had no idea of the drama that could have been unfolding.. My family in England were totally unaware that anything untoward was happening in this part of the world. Suddenly - as Isabel loses strength but seems to be headed for the Outer Banks - everybody knows. Am I wrong for being "slightly" upset for being made to feel so very insignificant!
Norma Knowles, The Bahamas

I agree with Norma in the Bahamas - we are slowly but surely clearing up from Category 3 Hurricane Fabian. There was minimal coverage in UK about what was happening to this small British Colony and family and friends in UK were trying to get news via BBC who provided very little. But now a category two hurricane hits the US and this makes world headlines. The sad fact is if the US had the same building codes as Bermuda they would not be suffering such a high level of damage.
Tina, Bermuda

Batteries,& 3 cases of Bass. Good to go.
dj baker, USA

We can only hope now that it doesn't pick up strength
Senay, Washington, DC, USA
I live in Virginia Beach, right in the path of Isabel. All around, people are preparing everywhere; at the beach, almost every shop and hotel is boarded up. People are flocking to beach to see the mounting surf, and there are more than a fair share of reporters swarming everywhere.

The sky is cloudy now, and the wind is picking up. The storm is supposed to arrive tomorrow, and people are taking no chances in its face, and most of the lower-lying areas have been evacuated. We can only hope now that it doesn't pick up strength.
Chris Parmenter, US

Yes I am definitely preparing for the arrival of hurricane Isabel. I will fill up my tank, buy flash lights, candles and some food. We might work half day tomorrow if the storm is imminent. It is expected to arrive around noon Thursday.
Senay, Washington, DC, USA

Just like everything in the news, they are making a bigger deal than it actually is and freaking everybody out. They have already cancelled school tomorrow in Montgomery County (North of DC) and the storm isn't supposed to hit up here until Friday, if it does at all. What a joke.
S. Donnelly, Washington DC

People don't know how to deal with hurricanes here. The last one we had was fifty years ago; no one's barricading the windows, or buying supplies, or anything of that nature. I really hope that the storm is weakened substantially when it arrives, because I fear that many in my area will lose their lives if it does not.
Steve S., Northern Virginia, USA

Preparations are being made here even though we are an inland area
Dawn Hopkins, United States
We live in Maryland, just outside of Washington DC. Yes, preparations are being made here even though we are an inland area...for power outages (supply of torches & food in cans), utility problems (supply of bottled water), and general good sense (such as removing all items in the yard/garden that can fly about causing damage &/or injury). Schools are cancelled for tomorrow; most business offices closed. Better safe than sorry, eh?
Dawn Hopkins, United States

I haven't personally done anything to prepare for Isabel, and neither has anyone I know. However, school has already been cancelled for Thursday in my county. It will be interesting to see if the storm actually reaches us now...
Natalia, Maryland, USA

We are still not sure when or where it's going to come ashore, but you would not believe, looking outside, that there is a hurricane coming. It's rather blowy but beautiful and sunny. We live close the Virginia/N Carolina border so it could come right over the top of us. We have loaded up on essentials (esp the beers) and we can only hope for the best.
Dee Zagurski, formerly Chiswick, London now Chesapeake, Virginia

I have evacuated all ducks from my swimming pool and staple-gunned the Stars and Stripes to the sturdiest tree in my yard. God Bless America!
Gerard Nelson, USA- Charlotte, North Carolina

I stay in campus that is a hour from the coast. We are being urged to evacuate from here. The University is closed from Thursday to Saturday, so most of the people are going inland. The atmosphere is anxious and panicky; the last time Hurricane Floyd came, people had to evacuate for at least 2 weeks because of the flooding. I think it is still fresh in everybody's mind.
Sandhya M, NC, USA

There will be enough cleanup work after it passes to occupy those days without electricity
Wade Burchette, Rocky Mount, NC USA
I am preparing for this Hurricane, but less than others. The last major Hurricanes to hit us had 135+ MPH winds, this one is down to about 110. I went ahead and brought the candles out, check the flashlights, and now store up some water just in case we are without electricity for days. Really, after the essentials all you can do is wait. There will be enough cleanup work after it passes to occupy those days without electricity.
Wade Burchette, Rocky Mount, NC USA

I am in the direct path of the storm here in Richmond. People are starting to scramble for milk water and batteries. Currently we have blue skies and calm winds but things might look very different in 24-48 hours.
Martyn Banner , Virginia USA

My family and I are ready for the hurricane, we are going to go down into our basement bathroom and we bought a lot of food that doesn't need to be refrigerated or cooked. If I didn't have a basement, our family would go in the lowest place in our house where the walls are the closest or inside a bathtub. Those are the safest places to be during a hurricane.
Heather Hlavaty, United States

This is my first real experience of being "in the eye of the storm", as we moved to the DC area 3 years ago from England. The skies are blue and it's a beautiful day today. it seems hard to believe we are going to be hit by a hurricane.

My children seem more prepared than me, as they are getting all sorts of advice from school: to have lots of tinned food and bottled water on hand, as we may have no electricity or running water by Friday morning. We are just south of DC, in Fairfax County. I see by the map on the BBC news website that the storm does seem to be heading straight for us!

My husband is probably a little more aware of the potential danger as he is does climate research. I guess the main thing we are doing is to make sure everything is secure outside, so bikes etc don't get blown around. I am hoping no trees come down, and that the roof stays on the house!
Lynne Harris, Annandale, Virginia, USA

My friends and I are currently doing a course in Military medicine at the National Naval Medical Centre in Bethsda MD. We are all medical students sponsored by the British Military. We are planning to leave tomorrow morning for Texas to go an exercise called FTX Bushmaster, which is where we will put all what we have learnt over the last two weeks into practice. I hope we are able to get out before the storm hits!!!
Andy Grieve and Matt Morgan, England

Hurricane heads for US coast
17 Sep 03  |  Americas
In pictures: Waiting for Isabel
17 Sep 03  |  Photo Gallery
Isabel worries Washington
16 Sep 03  |  Americas
Bermuda counts cost of hurricane
07 Sep 03  |  Americas
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15 Sep 03  |  Business


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