Emails have flooded in to the BBC News website from the US Gulf coast hit by Hurricane Katrina.
Readers recount their experiences from some of the worst affected areas.
Everyone has seen the devastation done by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, Gulfport, Biloxi, and Pascagoula. Not everyone has seen or heard of the devastation here in my own home of Mobile. The majority of our County of 200-250 000 people are without power, fuel, food, and in some areas clean drinking water.
Michael Nickerson checks the damage sustained to his house in Mobile
We are not a major metropolis like New Orleans, and we don't have fancy casinos like Biloxi, but what we do have are our people who, despite surviving two category four hurricanes in less than a year, still find the courage and compassion to help each other and those in more desperate need like the people of Biloxi/Gulfport and New Orleans.
We are thankful we didn't take a direct hit, but we did none-the-less take a big hit. All we ask is that you keep us in Mobile, Alabama in your hearts and prayers with the others in our area who have nothing to come home to, much less to call home. We ask that those of you in the international community to help in any way you can. We are not on the same side of the earth as Indonesia or Thailand - but right now we are just a stones throw away.
Mackie Smith, Mobile, Alabama, USA
I live on the eastern shore of Mobile Bay. We stayed at my grandparent's house during the storm. At about 8:00 AM, the power went out, and we had no idea of the extent of the damage that was about to happen to the area around us. After the storm was over, we came back home. Even though Daphne did not get much of the storm, there was still extensive damage. One state trooper that lived near us had a huge oak tree fall on top of his house, the power lines in the street. Some were trapped on their roads with no way to get out. We came to our house, and luckily we had a lot of debris in our yard and pool, but no damage. While the power was out, the whole street worked together to get everything as close to normal as possible, but since we had limited contact with new sources, we had no idea what had happened.
Finally, we got the power back. If we didn't live near an area that required power immediately, it would have been days, perhaps weeks, before anything would have happened. We were glued to the television, seeing many of the areas we were used to passing by every day destroyed. It is a terrible feeling to see something that you're used to seeing every day not there. On a causeway connecting the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay to Mobile, there are no businesses. Favourite family icons and restaurants are destroyed.
Peyton, Daphne, Alabama, USA
Our family are sitting in Tallahassee Florida watching the storm that could destroy our house. We live in Biloxi, close to where they think the worst winds will be. It is really surreal watching it on TV, knowing your home and possessions may not be around in 24-hours time. Our children are worried and frightened for the future as are we. Wherever this goes there will be death and destruction, no doubt about it, unless a miracle happens.
A stranded boat on the waterfront of Biloxi
Linda Larson, Biloxi, Mississippi - USA
Originally from Oxford, my family and I are here anxiously awaiting Katrina. We have gone through several Hurricanes, but always managed to find ourselves on the western side of the landfall (the better side - if you can say that).We have just had the first of the feeder bands go over the top of us, which marks the beginning of a long 24 hours. It is quite surreal to be here writing about a storm, that congers images of an atomic bomb aftermath. But, that is what a category five storm does.
We are anticipating a storm surge of 30 feet. Yes, the entire Gulf of Mexico will rise by 30 ft. We are also currently in a tornado warning, which is quite the 'norm' for being on the northeast side. So apart from the 165mph winds, tornados, torrential rain and floods, it's just another day in paradise.
Mal Woodcock, Biloxi, MS
I am in the heart of the devastation here. And that is the only word to describe it. I am very lucky to have Internet access. No phone, no power, no running water. We are running on a generator and DSL line. My children evacuated with my mother and I am here. I do not know when I will ever see my kids again. It is not pretty here. Everything is gone. Wealthy and poor alike stand in the same lines for water and ice and MRE's.
Lynnda, Biloxi MS USA
I presently at my job at a large federal hospital in Biloxi, Mississippi. Through my window I can see Biloxi Back Bay and the surges look to be about four feet. Soon it should washing up to our parking lot, which is about 100 feet from our hospital. Normally the Bay is like glass. Also, the intense winds (probably about 150/miles per hour) are blowing debri and chunks of the roof. Listening to the radio I already heard that homes have been destroyed on the Mississippi Coast and Highway 90 (Beach Blvd) is under water. Those familiar with Biloxi is where the large casinos are. The problem is the eye of the storm is not due for about another four hours, hope we make it.
Alan Cooper, Gautier, Mississippi
My town is gone. The winds and waves have taken a once great beach side town and totally washed it away. I don't know how long it will take to rebuild and I'm not sure if I will go back and rebuild. Please keep us in your thoughts.
J. Vickery, Gulfport, Mississippi
My friend did not evacuate Gulfport, Mississippi where there is 10+ feet of water. I spoke to her the night before the hurricane made landfall. All she had told me was that she was 15 miles inland in Gulfport and she had to go because they wouldn't have power to charge her mobile phone and she wanted to save the battery so she could call me and my boyfriend as well as other friends and family to tell us she was alright. I am hoping that she was in a shelter and I am distraught at the fact that I do not know that her and the children are safe and it may be weeks until they get the mobile towers operating again. I can't even receive incoming calls because I have a Biloxi, Mississippi mobile number and I reside 9 hours away on the northeast coast of Florida.
A military policeman surveys the damage in Gulfport
Courtney, Jacksonville, FL, United States
The inhabitants of my coastal city hope and pray for the best as we try our best to make it out of here. It's going to be a long night.
Arianna M, Gulfport, MS, USA
We were ready to come to terms with losing our homes, jobs, and possessions due to a natural disaster. Now we are hearing stories from people still in New Orleans of armed gangs looting the homes and businesses that survived the flood waters. Our possessions are not so much the issue. One police officer has already been shot by looters. There are rescue workers risking their lives to save people trapped in their homes, and now these heroes and the survivors are in danger from armed looters. Our city looks like a war zone and the feeling of desperation has given way to anger that our president can send thousands of troops halfway around the world to "secure our country's freedoms" yet the military presence in New Orleans is so limited that we can't even protect our own people in our own country. We have not even heard of any solutions from the White House to secure the city. I can't even imagine what we come home to. A beautiful city has been lost and it is heartbreaking to watch it be dismantled by its own people.
Supplies are handed to New Orleans residents
Jessica Marrero, New Orleans, LA USA
I am a graduate student at Tulane University, New Orleans. I evacuated just before the storm to a place on a ridge just north of New Orleans. It was a farmhouse in the middle of a forest. Half the trees in the woods there are down. A couple of trees fell on the house I was taking shelter in. The last two days we cleared the trees from the road leading to the main road and finally made our way to Florida. There is no news as to when school will reopen. There are apprehensions here that the city of New Orleans will be declared a dead city.
Gautam, New Orleans, USA
While my brother and I are taking our chances on the tenth floor of our medical school residence hall, the rest of my family evacuated today. Unfortunately they are stuck in congested traffic with the thousands that decided to leave at the last minute. The problem is we don't even know when they will stop because nearly all the hotels in the state are already occupied!
Yazen Joudeh, New Orleans, Louisiana USA
I fled the city last Saturday and relocated with many in my office to Monroe LA. Every hotel to Dallas is full. It's late and I just heard from a phone call on television that a levee on the 17th Street canal has breeched and the lake is pouring into the city. I took a chance and stayed when Ivan hit and I was lucky. I took no chances this time. Thanks to satellite images and the web we all knew this was bad. This is your space program at work.
Rick Baxter, New Orleans, USA
I am in the midst of the hurricane at the moment, on the south shore of Lake Ponchatrain. The eyewall is currently passing just east of here. Although the wind gusts are extremely forceful, filling the streets with branches and roof slates, all structures in this neighbourhood seem to be holding up well. The drains are clear and working well. Electricity, water, and radio reception are all gone. We are all hoping that the worst will soon be over.
Lori Frey Ribeiro, New Orleans, USA
After a 12-hour ride from New Orleans to Jackson (the trip would normally take 3 hours) we are holed up in a school gymnasium. Everyone is bracing for the full brunt of the hurricane sometime tomorrow. All laptops and televisions are on some weather channel. The wind has picked up but not to any speed that would signal what is likely to be a story many will be talking about for the rest of the year. All foreign students from around the globe (myself included) are keeping constant contact with family and friends. The question on most people's minds is how deadly will Katrina's kiss be?
Masimba Fortune Ngandu, New Orleans, USA
The scene here looks like something from the apocalypse. People are running around the city, terrified about what to do. Those who are leaving have clogged the roadways so extensively that little hope remains for those who have not yet decided to leave. Gas stations are breeding grounds for fighting and riots, as people are resorting to a state of martial law in order to get the precious gasoline they need to move their vehicles. This truly is the worst part of the storm and it only looks to get worse. God be with everyone who is trying to escape the madness.
Sam Morrison, New Orleans, LA USA