People in Florida are counting the cost of Hurricane Charley which has ripped across the state leaving widespread destruction.
The hurricane landed further south than predicted on Florida's Gulf coast with winds of up to 145mph (230km/h) catching some residents by surprise.
Thirteen people are known to have died and President George W Bush has declared the region a disaster area.
The hurricane has also hit North and South Carolina but in a weaker form.
Have you been affected by Hurricane Charley? Send us your comments and experiences? If you have any photos send them to email@example.com
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:
To our good fortune of being spared in Tampa, our neighbours are not so lucky. Much focus has been given to the mobile home destruction; however, even steel-reinforced concrete walls failed. As we drove home on Interstate 75, the real power of nature hit me hard - even steel and concrete can't protect you from this! I will never take another warning lightly.
Tony D'Alessandro, Tampa, Fl, US
This was a disaster. An event that is difficult to give words to. I left my home at 5am Sunday, Aug 15th, to go and assist those who were in distress in Wachulla and Arcadia. I was unprepared for what I saw. Entire towns without power, Gas stations, businesses, and homes levelled! Enormous trees uprooted, power lines down everywhere. I was able with a number of other people remove downed trees, and repair roofs to bring some sense of comfort to these people that will likely be without power until the end of the week, as well as running water. What an awesome path of destruction this storm wrought upon the land that I beheld.
J Kline, Lakeland, Florida
We were staying in Port Charlotte on vacation until leaving on Thurs 12th as planned. We saw the hurricane watch reports on TV and were concerned but the locals didn't appear too worried as it was heading to Tampa and only category 1 at that stage. Little did we know what was to hit them 24 hours later. The only sign of any local panic was the local store selling out of bottled water mid Thurs. This serves as a cold reminder that some things are still out of human control. We will never complain about Scottish weather again!
Stuart P, Edinburgh, Scotland
We have just arrived back in the UK this morning having experienced Hurricane Charley on Friday night in our house near Orlando. We didn't think we would be in the eye of the storm until about two hours before it happened when the Weather Channel confirmed change of direction. Being the stiff upper-lipped Brits that we are, we calmly ate our dinner as the winds blew around our villa, causing it to shake and our palms to bend ominously close to the ground. Only next morning did we realise how bad things were as we tried to track down the petrol we needed to drive to Miami to fly home. Orlando had little petrol, no power, no payphones and hardly any mobile phone signal. We were lucky to fly out last night but it was only our dash to Miami that stopped us being stranded in Florida for days. We understand that many Brits are being told they can't fly home for up to 10 days. My advice: try and get a flight from another airport and if you have to, drive there!
Helena , South Glos, UK/Davenport, Florida
I witnessed the event from Sanford airport in Orlando, and these things are not to be taken lightly: roofs and ceilings falling in, trees bending to an extent that they look like they will snap like matches! I spent 28 hours in the airport because there was no power and no planes, it was hard, and I sympathise with all the tourists still stuck there, and the people of Florida.
Adrian, Stoke-on-Trent, UK
I spent Friday evening working in a hospital in Kissimmee, FL, while Charley shrieked and roared around us. Damage was very territorial - some blocks were recognizable as their workaday selves, while others adjacent were devastated. My neighbourhood saw mostly cosmetic damage, rather than deep structural - but remember that we apparently had only half a hurricane. Had the back end of Charley remained intact, we'd have been in deep trouble. As it is, we are, with some exceptions, experiencing more insult than injury. The best summation I've heard of the typical damage: "My yard looks like a tossed salad."
Evelyn, Saint Cloud, FL, USA
I honestly am sympathetic to the people who have lost lives, relatives and property to the ravages of hurricane Charley, and my thoughts and prayers go out to them. However I believe it reflects badly on the developed west that we consider this a disaster when in Bangladesh at this moment over 600 people have died and 30 million have lost their homes in the recent floods. The scale of that disaster is staggering and it puts into perspective why many third world cultures see the developed west as uninterested in the lives of others unless our geo-political interests are at stake.
Dave, Newcastle, U.K.
What did people do before the paths of hurricanes were tracked with radar, mile by mile, and their power and destruction covered on TV hourly? Without a three day warning this would be a total disaster, up the entire coast, scary!
Steve Mac, Boston MA, USA
This Hurricane is destructive! It blew my trailer at least 100 feet into my next door neighbour's lot. Still trying to locate my cat. Think it got it during the early hours. No power. Having to use my laptop and satellite connection. Right now I would even drink a cup of tea if presented to me! But can't heat the water.
Jack Griswald, Miami, FL, USA
Family in Britain have been phoning us because we are in Charley's first predicted path. But the storm turned and affected us with only some wind and rain. Hurricanes are unpredictable. Many who evacuated the Tampa Bay area put themselves directly in the eye of the storm. This drama could be repeated next weekend as Tropical Storm Earl forms in the Caribbean.
Chris Van Ormer, Spring Hill, Hernando County, FL, USA
Everyone in America is affected by this because our taxes will be spent to fix the communities destroyed and our insurance will go up to pay for it. Too many wealthy, spoiled Americans have their second homes on islands and beachfront property which are annually endangered by storms. These places should be public lands so that everyone can enjoy the beaches and so that we don't have to pay for their luxuries regularly.
Lisa Starrfield, Gregory, USA
When we heard we had a tropical storm and a hurricane coming our way, we freaked! We had our food supplies and water stored, grabbed the pets and holed up for the storms watching the weather channel like it was HBO! Got nothing but a little rain in Northern Florida. We were lucky.....but it isn't always so. Living in Florida is accepting the risk of hurricanes and tornadoes but it's still paradise!
Maude, Florida, USA
I managed to get home just before the major part of the storm reached my house. I lost electrical power at about 2115 GMT (7.15 EDT) and as far as I know it's still off (I'm currently at work). I lost some shingles from my roof, and there is some water intrusion into my ceiling, but the roof's still on the house. I know there are others who cannot say the same, and my heart goes out to them. Large parts of Winter Haven and Polk County are still without power, but I have not gone round to see the extent of the damage. I can say that there are trees blown down and others with limbs snapped off.
Walt, Winter Haven, FL, USA
I'm a lifeguard on Myrtle Beach SC. Charley is expected to hit here at 2pm today. The hotels have all been evacuated and gas stations are all sold out. Hopefully it will have lost some of its strength when it hits. Although winds and rain really picking up now.
Matt, Dorchester, England
This was to be my first hurricane as a homeowner and let me tell you, I was tense. Being a novice at boarding up my house I spent a good ten hours sealing things as best I could and still had little confidence the structure would withstand the storm. I am tired, sore and extremely grateful that Charley missed us and my heart goes out to those in the region who have taken the brunt of the storm.
Eileen, Largo, FL, USA
My brother and many of his friends are attempting to move in today to NC State University in Raleigh, As some have said Eastern North Carolina may be getting a fairly decent storm and I am very concerned about all the college students trying to move in the middle of it.
Curt, Winston-Salem, NC, USA
Had 4 friends check in from Fort Myers on their cell phone. Thanks to storm shutters, their house survived a direct hit. They had to screw their garage door to the frame at the height of the storm to keep it from ripping off and taking their roof with it. They said the entire house shook non-stop for hours. Even with towels packed against their doors, water flowed into the house. No-one lost windows or roofs in their neighbourhood (they are close to Interstate 75), but the 2 story house up the street lost ALL the old growth trees. The root systems took the driveway with them, so the cars are stuck in the garage. The roof is gone off the hospital there and patients are being evacuated to other hospitals. Our news is reporting at least 680,000 people across the state without power. Many without water as well. All we got in Jacksonville was heavy rain and a few rain gusts. Daytona Beach was hit. One woman electrocuted by stepping on a live power line.
Beth, Jacksonville, FL, USA
My wife and I put together a hurricane kit, just like we were advised to by the media: bottled water, candles, batteries, torches, portable radio, canned food. Then we waited for the storm to hit. The projected path showed that it would pass right over Gainesville, and that we would get the worst of it, but in the event we experienced little more than a bit of light drizzle as Charley made landfall further south than was expected, and crossed the state via Orlando. I'm relieved that we were okay but of course the hurricane season lasts several months so we could go through this again many more times before the year is out.
Nicholas, Gainesville, FL (ex-UK)
We evacuated our house in Fort Myers at about midday today. The weather was windy at first but then became eerily still for about an hour or so just before we left home. We were all planning to leave here for various locations today (some home to England and me on to Colorado) but all flights out of South West Florida international have been cancelled. It is now 7:50pm here and we have been taking cover at a local hospital where our neighbour works. At around 3 or 4 pm the storm passed within about 15-20 miles of us and we could see trees coming down in the parking lot and water rushing across the ground. We are still waiting for it to be safe to leave so we can return home to survey the damage. It's very worrying as our house is within a few hundred yards of the Caloosahatchee River and with word of tidal surges being broadcast on the news it's easy to be concerned.
Martyn Hilliard, Fort Myers, Florida
I'm a British teacher here - this was my first hurricane experience - and was tracking Charley all week! We were advised to prepare for the worst but fortunately we were not affected in any way! But the pictures of devastation are staggering!
Karen Roberts, Fort Lauderdale, USA
I'm in Orlando on business and when I arrived a week ago Bonnie and Charley had not formed, therefore there was no news. Over the past few days it had emerged that we were in possible danger and, with all due credit to the State of Florida, we were constantly updated on the news, TV and by hotel management. Although the storm was predicted to hit US soil north of where it did eventually land I feel strongly that everything was done to protect everyone here. It's now 1.45am here. The storm passed over central Florida at about 9.30pm last night, it was harrowing, scary and even exciting but it's something I would never want to live through again.
Gareth Hurford, Orlando, Florida (from Essex)
Charlie just passed us 30 minutes ago and has left its mark. Many of my friends have been without electricity for over an hour. Palm trees have fallen throughout, including the one on top of my car!
Kharis, Orlando, FL, USA
We have just had the storm pass over us. We are some 15 miles north of Orlando. Winds were high and the power went out but we have a beer in hand so we'll be OK.
Andrew Steadman, Lake Mary, Florida
Here in Wilmington, North Carolina, we've had a tropical storm warning and possible Cat 1 hurricane warning since this morning. Like the comment from the resident in Charlotte, NC it's now just a waiting game. They're predicting 75mph winds and extensive flooding from the Cape Fear River. Three blocks from our apartment! It's due to hit us 2pm tomorrow (Saturday 14th). I don't think it will be as bad as Isabel last September. Hurricane season is upon us once again.
Benedict R Fancy, Wilmington, NC (Ex-UK)
The hurricane knocked out power around nine pm while blowing down power lines and large branches all over the streets. Charley managed to suspend tolls on many roads and keep my friends and I indoors with only the candlelight and the howling wind.
Kacey, Winter Park, Florida
Sebring has been laid wasted. I work on the police force. We are guessing over 50,000 homes are no more in the Sebring area alone. Reports from law enforcement in the Fort Myers metro area indicate widespread destruction. I'm guessing $70 to $80 billion in damage. Probably over 400,000 people will be homeless. This was huge!
Chris McClure, Sebring, Florida, USA
We are bracing for Charley to hit here on Saturday afternoon. There is a tornado watch tonight in advance of the hurricane. We had two tornadoes Thursday from Hurricane Bonnie and not much rain. It's scary, people stock up on food, candles, oil lamps, torches and batteries for radios as well as bottled water. We also do this for winter ice storms when the power goes off. There's always some big weather coming or passing over.
James Martin, Jamestown, NC
Everyone left the lowlands in St Petersburg and Tampa and many drove east to Orlando for safety. The hurricane turned away from the Tampa area and hit Polk County, Orlando and Kissimmee directly. A million people boarded up or left town and nothing happened in St. Pete and Tampa.
Greg T, Brandon, Florida, USA
This was to be my first hurricane as a homeowner and let me tell you, I was tense. Being a novice at boarding up my house I spent a good 10 hours sealing things as best I could and still had little confidence the structure would withstand the storm. I am tired, sore and extremely grateful that Charley missed us and my heart goes out to those in the region who have taken the brunt of the storm.
Eileen, Largo, FL, USA
My wife and I put together a hurricane kit, just like we were advised to by the media: bottled water, candles, batteries, torches, portable radio, canned food. Then we waited for the storm to hit. The projected path showed that it would pass right over Gainesville, and that we would get the worst of it, but in the event we experienced little more than a bit of light drizzle as Charley made landfall further south than was expected, and crossed the state via Orlando. I'm relieved that we were okay, but of course the hurricane season lasts several months so we could go through this again many more times before the year is out.
Nicholas, Gainesville, FL (ex-UK)
We are head on in the projected eye of the storm. I have seen worse in my 32 year of native life in Florida. Local media hype has made this hurricane equivalent to an Orange Alert. Live tele via cable is breaking up, though underground (same cable link is holding). What the heck is going globally right now. I hope we have not been disillusioned by current forecasts. We have taken precautions though. No laughing matter and neither is the rest of our worlds' state! We must all keep posted of reality.
Kimberly, DeLand, FL USA (Volusia County)
Here in South Texas the affect of hurricane Charley has been quite wonderful. The temperature here is usually in the high nineties even up to one hundred degrees this time of the summer. But, because of Charley, it has been cooler, beautiful and positively balmy. We almost had a record low temperature this morning. Let me add that, while I'm grateful for the cooler temperature, I'm still very concerned for the people directly in Charley's path.
My mum and her boyfriend moved to Holiday, Florida three months ago which is right next to Clearwater and St Petersburg which is going to be hit hard on the west coast of Florida. Not only that but my two brothers and two sisters have been there visiting for the last week. Mum and her partner are both British nurses working in the local ER. Now with all her children sheltering with her in the hospital, she says they are worried, the streets are deserted and all the shops have been boarded up. It's a worrying time. It's going to be a worrying night in a strange place for my brothers and sisters.
Paul Roberts, Manchester, UK
My son is in the US Coast Guard stationed at St Petersburg, FL. The cutter he is on had just made it back to St Petersburg after being at sea for 6 weeks when they were called back and evacuated the ship from the port. My daughter-in-law was ordered to leave St Petersburg Thursday afternoon. She contacted me today to say she was safe. My son is somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico. Needless to say, I'll be watching every newscast about this storm!
Sherry C. LeBlanc, Little Rock USA
It is a ghost town here. Everyone has left and all the shops are boarded up. The winds are starting to pick up and we are bracing for the worst. I wanted to leave to go south, but I couldn't because the highways were closed when we decided to leave. We are just staying home and watching movies, hoping for the best.
Sam, Sarasota, FL
The storm has had a direct effect on New Orleans. The high pressure produced by the storm has given us a break from the sweltering heat and the temperature has dropped. Everyone was outside today and air-conditioning was turned off and windows opened. It was the most beautiful day since early April.
Rick Baxter, New Orleans, USA
Bonnie spurned several tornadoes and 6 inches of rain in this area of south-east North Carolina on Thursday. Saturday will then bring Charley's wind and rain.
Mitch Graham, Maxton, NC USA
Here in Montreal we get strange weather after the hurricanes. Since last night we have had the rain from Bonnie and local mini tornadoes and on Sunday we get the leftovers of Charley.
Nami Umali, Montreal, Canada
Charley passed within 25 miles of us on Thursday morning and managed to knock a couple of coconuts out of a tree near my flat. Other than that, it had absolutely no effect, apart from giving us a day off work, which was nice.
Ben, George Town, Grand Cayman
It's almost chilling. As a British citizen living in the US, and never having experienced anything like this before, I can feel the sense of fear in the air. Gainesville is far inland, but people here are already panicking at gas stations, buying up candles, batteries and flashlights, the roads are blocked and information is running on rumour. I know that where I live that we won't be affected too badly, but still, this is not something I and perhaps a lot of other people can never really mentally prepare for.
Chris Ashurst, Gainesville, FL, USA
We breathed relief an hour ago, but now Charley is turning our way again. This has been a very, very long day and it's not over by a long chalk. The suspense is almost Hitchcockian.
Pete MacLeod, Tampa, USA
My son-in-law is living in Orlando and my daughter is on a cruise ship heading for Fort Lauderdale. I am really concerned.
Margaret Willis, Stockport England
The eye of the hurricane looks like it is going to track right over Disney, Sea World and my house! Currently making sure all the loose things are out of my yard. Looks like we might sustain some damage. We are waiting for an updated course adjustment at 5pm EDT.
Nick Barnes, Orlando, FL
The whole island closed down on Wednesday afternoon ready for the onslaught of Hurricane Charley which thankfully passed us by without any damage at all. Good luck Florida!
Julie Hutton, Cayman Islands
This hurricane is destructive! It blew my trailer at least 100 feet into my next door neighbour's lot. Still trying to locate my cat. No power. Having to use my laptop and satellite connection. Right now I would even drink a cup of tea if presented to me! But can't heat the water.
Jack Griswald, Miami, FL, USA
My family is in the direct path of Charley, I'm tracking the storm via the internet from Singapore, and am concerned about the safety of my family and the storm surge, which could reach 4m...this would flood my parent's house. Yes, I'm affected, all the way from Singapore.
Well, thank God for small mercies. The Cayman Islands suffered no damage from Charley. Our prayers are with Florida as they brace themselves for Charley's arrival.
Sasha, Bodden Town, Grand Cayman
I am very scared because my sister, her husband and their two girls live in Tampa. They were up in North Carolina when they learned the hurricane was headed for Tampa. Now they are trying to get back to Tampa to save their house, but it's not clear they will get through. In any event, the rain and storms preceding the hurricane make all highways in Florida very dangerous.
Tricia Bailey, Paris, France
I'm definitely affected. My school has been shut down and turned into a shelter. All of the evacuees from Tampa have come here. The store I work at has been busy non-stop for three days now. Already, the first wave of severe weather has come through my neighbourhood. Should be interesting. I've set off a time lapse camera.
Aaron Amodt, Orlando, Florida, USA
Work colleagues are in the hurricane shelters so difficult to keep on working.
Mac, Hinsdale, NH, USA
Every business is closed, the streets are desolate, many people have boarded up their windows. The surrounding islands and shoreline have been evacuated and the bridges are closed down. Thankfully it's moving south of here, but it's just now beginning.
Neal Conner, Sarasota, FL, USA
Even up here in Massachusetts, over 3000 miles away from Florida, we are predicted to get heavy rain and widespread flooding from Charlie. This is a huge weather of mass destruction that will wreak havoc upon the east coast.
Jeremy Crossland, Sterling, MA, USA ex UK
We are in the possible storm path, so from here it's just a waiting game. We just stay glued to the TV and internet for updates. I hope it's not another Hugo; that put the lights out for 3 weeks for some!
Dominic Hawkes, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA (originally from London, UK)
We're on holiday here from London, UK and the latest news is the hurricane has shifted and will come right over us. The rain and thunderstorms are already heavier than I have ever seen. We'll keep watching the news reports and see what happens!
Will Brooks, Orlando, Fla, USA
While we are not "out of the woods" yet, the good news is that Charley is expected to make landfall near the Sanibel/Captiva Island area, quite a bit south of the Tampa area. This news at 2:43 p.m. We are still expecting high winds, and a great deal of rain and some flooding, but we are in far better shape than what was predicted this morning.
Donna Miller, Tampa, Florida, USA
Only affected in the sense that my mother who lives in the Tampa area is stuck with me in NY until the hurricane blows over and she can then make her way home.
Amy, NYC, USA
The storm is more than a day away and already it is the topic of all conversation on the island. The traffic is terrible and the main source of revenue (tourists) are packing up and leaving. Too bad for them...
Chris, Hilton Head Island, SC
The first big band just hit us. The sky is ominous and the first wave of rain has begun. People are still taping up their windows and getting ready for the worst. People are pretty tense.
William Milsten, Orlando, USA
The eye of Charley is expected to cross Florida south of Jacksonville but it is a cat 4, nearly cat 5 storm so we're under the hurricane warning as well. I will be evacuating in about 6 hours with my 2 children. The tornado threat is too great and I'll take the 'better safe than sorry' approach on this one. I have family just north of Fort Myers, hope they're ok. We were also affected yesterday by a tornado spawned by Tropical Storm Bonnie, total devastation in a path over a mile long.
Terrie, Jacksonville, FL, USA
The storm has moved east and will directly impact Orlando at 2 am GMT. Things have become very urgent as Tampa is not going to get a direct hit now, so they are now issuing evacuation orders for the east coastal barrier islands as well.
Geoff Painter, Orlando area, Florida
My wife and daughter are in Orlando, which looks to be straight in the path now. I'm pretty sure they'll be OK but am still concerned.
Cliff W, Minneapolis USA
My boyfriend and I have been warned by authorities to evacuate the city. They say it's too dangerous near the coast. I had to shut down my hair salon for the week. I am losing money by the day. The humidity is not good for people's hair either. It makes me want to cry!
Hassan Nasir, Miami, FL
I live in Palm Beach Gardens, FL which is east of Tampa bay area. Yesterday night we had gusty winds and all my patio furniture was thrown inside out even though Charley is much south of Key West. It sure is a one coming.
Vijay, Palm Beach Gardens, FL
I am on a business trip from Rio de Janeiro. I have been locked in the resort where I'm staying here for 24 hours and we all are just waiting for big Charley to come so we can all go home.
Jeane Goncalves-Rego, Orlando, FL
We were affected by one of the outer bands of the hurricane late last night - it was crazy. My parents are up in Tampa so I might be getting a slew of visitors this weekend. I guess I should put a Red Cross shingle on my door.
Mike Daly, Miami, FL, USA