Hurricane Dean, which has been causing devastation in the Caribbean, has now been downgraded to the status of a tropical storm, after being weakened by its passage across Mexico's Yucatan peninsula. But the danger hasn't passed completely, as forecasters say it could yet regain strength as it passes the Gulf of Mexico. Previously, the hurricane passed close to the Cayman Islands, and hit the south coast of Jamaica.
Hurricane damage on the beach at Akumal, Mexico
Here BBC News website readers describe the preparations they made in advance of the massive storm, and the damage it left behind in its wake. This page will be updated regularly.
WEDNESDAY, 22 AUGUST
I've been working for the last four years as a coral reef manager for a conservation NGO, Mexiconservación, on the Yucatan coast. I've seen other hurricanes - so many seem to have hit this coast of late - but this one wasn't as bad as Hurricane Emily and Hurricane Wilma which both hit in 2005. We were preparing for Hurricane Dean to hit us full on, but in the end, the eye of the hurricane hit further south in Chetumal. Many lessons have been learnt since Emily and Wilma, and the authorities got the electricity and water running again only a matter of hours after the hurricane hit us, yesterday morning.
Reader Lucy Gallagher found one of Hurricane Dean's smaller casualties
It's great to see how people pull together afterwards. People really cooperate to get the area back on its feet and clean up the debris - it's like the spirit in war time.
We were fortunate here that it didn't rain a lot so there were no floods. No people got hurt but the wildlife has suffered. I saw a dead seagull and a lot of reef fish that had been washed up. And this beach is a major turtle nesting site. It's right in the middle of their nesting season, and it seems some turtle hatchlings chose the wrong time to hatch.
Lucy Gallagher, Akumal, Mexico
TUESDAY, 21 AUGUST
The majority of Jamaica has no electricity and water. For those of us who can be at work (like myself) we have been fortunate to have light and water and, of course, internet access. Unfortunately, many, especially in Southern parishes have been adversely affected and may not have normality restored for weeks. Our Office of Emergency Management, which coordinates all disaster relief efforts, is working over time to ensure that we can 'bounce back' as soon as possible. Overall, people's spirits have been positive. Some criminals have taken advantage of people's vulnerability, but the incidents were few.
Samora Bain, Kingston, Jamaica
I live in Cozumel and we were expecting winds as strong as Hurricane Emily. All businesses and houses were boarded up and ready for the worst. Fortunately we only experienced mild winds and a centimetre of rain. Even today we have not forgotten the experience and scars of Wilma. We hope for the best for the people of Mahahual and Chetumal.
Neethu Ram, Cozumel, Mexico
It's 6am and Dean has picked up again after what has been a night of intermittent heavy rain, some lightening and strong winds. A short while ago the power went out for a few seconds and came back on again. As we begin to feel Dean's north side, you can hear the wind howl like a distant freight train and the rain has started to really pound. Nothing compared to Wilma though. We've had zero flooding in the house and the windows have barely shuddered all night.
Michael, Cancun, Mexico
Here in Belize we have taken all necessary measures to prepare for the storm. Many have evacuated the City and moved to higher grounds inland. Those of us who are in town are at shelters or in our homes which are heavily boarded up. We took all precautions in getting the basic emergency essentials, such as food, batteries, flashlights and fuel. We are gratefull that the Hurricane has passed and will continue to monitor it now.
Dorian Fairweather, Belize
Dean is our third hurricane in two years. However, here on the north coast of the Yucatán where the main resorts are, it's really just a tropical storm. Everything is still closed at 10am, there's some wind and it's raining a lot. The media doesn't really focus on the poor folk inland or near Chetumal, as those are the people who have really been affected. There is still little information in the media about how much damage has been done there.
Jo Steel, Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Hurricane Dean is also affecting part of Guatemala. Guatemala, borders with Mexico and Belize. The capital city, where I am, is not having rain, but we are experiencing really heavy winds and the temperature dropped drastically this morning. Because of the path of Dean, I am SURE the northern state of Peten, where Mayan cities are located - Tikal being one of them - will be severely affected with winds and heavy rains. Forturnately we are not directly in the path of Dean, but because of the closeness, we are being touched by it, and one can feel it. Right now, I have not heard of any casualties or bad news from those places up north.
Claudia Samayoa, Guatemala
MONDAY, 20 AUGUST
Its 11pm local time here in Playa del Carmen, and at the moment things are relatively calm. Around 7pm we had a spectacular Electrical Storm which lasted for over two hours, very intense lightning and occasional strong rain! The wind has been quite calm, gusting around 40 kmph.
My work here involves working with the local Mayan people, and my concern at the moment is the Mayan Communities. These villages are located South of Tulum and nearer to the Hurricane's path. Most of their houses are of wooden construction.
They are resilient people and used to these situations, but this time they are not so lucky! They managed to avoid the Hurricanes of Emily & Wilma in 2005, but our thoughts should go out to the people who give tourists a reason to visit their home!
Tom Wilkinson, Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico
Hurricane Dean has just bulldozed the place and left. The devastation is horrible but manageable. I just came out of my house to look up the road, and there was a big tree that had fallen in the middle of the road. The gutters are overflowing with debris and people are just walking around outside, looking around in wonder, raking up leaves, moving branches and debris out of the roads and trying to get their lives back to normal. It's amazing that another storm changed its course just when it was about to slam into us.
Ruth Howard, Kingston, Jamaica
The level of preparation here is unprecedented. Everyone already bought petrol four or five days ago, supermarkets were likewise packed then and all the boarding up has already been completed. Wilma is very fresh in our minds here. The forecast so far seems to be that we will avoid a direct hit this time. Naturally I would be extremely grateful for that but at the same time, due to the economic interest in this area because of tourism, it is very well looked after. If it hits further down the coast in the more unprotected rural areas, people there may not receive the same assistance.
Deborah Wilson, Cozumel, Mexico
After five days of stress and a tense atmosphere around here, it does look as though we will escape the worst of this storm. The islands are much better prepared this time after Hurricane Ivan in 2004. Many more people have evacuated, and supplies have been easily available. Makeshift parking lots have popped up in all areas of higher ground - no one wants to lose their vehicle this time around.
I am sitting here in my living room at 0300 listening to the wind whistling past my house. We still have electricity and cable TV which is nice for those who can't sleep - they'll probably be off for a spell later on though.
This has been a tough time leading up to this storm, particularly for those of us who experienced Ivan and its seemingly interminable aftermath. Assuming Dean's path doesn't change, we need to count ourselves extremely fortunate considering earlier forecasts.
Victoria Wheaton, George Town, Grand Cayman
We have just evacuated from our home in Grand Cayman. Many of our friends are still there and we hope that they will be able to leave. A strong category four storm with up to 25 feet of storm surge will destroy everything on Grand Cayman, which is below sea level in many places. Hopefully the storm will veer away. Otherwise this will be the worst natural disaster this island has ever suffered.
Peter Goddard, Grand Cayman
It has been breezy here all day but we are not expecting to see any severe weather for the next six hours. We are all boarded up sitting in the front room listening to the local radio and drinking wine. Latest reports indicate we may be spared with the system moving west and possibly missing us by 100 miles but we will still get tropical winds of 75mph.
We are hoping its path continues west with no shift towards the north because it will pass south of us which for us is good as we live in the north-west of the island.
Nick Wilkins, George Town Grand Cayman
It's 8.15pm and the storm is not abating. The wind is howling its getting colder. There is no power or water. Cellular service is still up and running. Many trees and road signs are down, with parts of Trafalgar Road across from the British Embassy under water.
A curfew is on but a few vagrants and other people were earlier seen walking up and down the road. There are reports that gunmen are trading bullets along sections of Mountain View Road, this as the general elections are scheduled for the 27th of this month. Its really somewhat scary but we are relieved that it is not worst. Ivan and Gilbert seem to have been more devastating.
SUNDAY, 19 AUGUST
My husband is in Jamaica with work and he was moved to a four-star hotel in Kingston yesterday. I was so glad to hear from him online at about 8pm and we have just been cut off. He said that they kept getting power surges. He said at the moment it is like a tropical storm, but they are bracing themselves for the worst. I am watching the news like a hawk.
Debbie, Aldershot, UK
My daughter was in Cancun on holiday. I spent £850 to get out Saturday on a flight to Miami, then London, and then Manchester. She was there 10 days and only saw her tour rep on the first day and had to rely on information from another tour company. The hotel would not give any information. We decided to fly her out on Friday after watching the news and the projected path of the hurricane
It is 2pm local time. Rain is falling. So far not bad. Some people are without electricity at this time. The sky is starting to look more grim. Hilly areas in the east of the island have been experiencing strong winds since early this morning.
Audley Harris, Kingston, Jamaica
My wife, 3 year old son and I are on the last leg of our holiday in Cancun and are due to fly back to the UK on Tuesday 21 August. The hurricane is expected to be in full flow at that time and at the moment we don't know whether we'lll be travelling or not.
We keep getting conflicting information and our tour operator does not seem know what is happening. One minute we're told we could be evacuated to a local school, and next, we're told we may have to converge in the basement of the hotel.
At the moment, the sun is out and the weather is great. As for the hurricane, well at the moment that seems a million miles away.
Clive Raven, Cancun, Mexico
I am a British citizen living in Cancun. We have been alerted regarding the hurricane since Thursday, although it was broadcast as a tropical depression at first. Here people are very wary of hurricanes and the warning of one approaching due to the effects of Wilma two years ago.
Supplies in stores were cleared by Friday; products like bread, masking tape, flash lights, batteries and tinned food are in, to say the least, short supply. We are at present experiencing the tropical storm effect with floods and flash downpours of rain.
Michelle Barnes, Quintana Roo, Cancun, Mexico
Most of the western section of the island is only experiencing light rain and generally light gusts of breeze. I think the power has been cut to most of the southern and eastern parishes, but the western end still has water and electricity service.
It's around half past one now and from radio and TV reports there has been news of flooding and impassable roads. However, most people who live in these areas are already in shelters. For everyone on the island the main attitude is to sit, wait, get hit, but ultimately survive the harsh conditions. Hope our internet service holds up - the visuals from the weather channel have been really helpful.
Hodari James, Montego Bay, Jamaica
My four children (aged between 9 and 13) are in Jamaica at the moment spending time with their family, i have been ringing all morning to check that they are OK. At the moment they are sat in their great grandmother's house waiting to see what happens. This has got to be one of the most terrifying moments of my life. At the moment i am literally searching all sources for any news. But all I can do is hope and pray that this storm passes with limited damage.
Candida Banres, Leicester, UK
I am here in Jamaica on holiday, I travelled from London on Wednesday, i currently live in Bath in England. I'm staying with my aunty who has lived here for 11 years. I arrived on Wednesday, and it's been crazy so far today and last night there were very strong winds and rain. She lives in the Red Hills above Kingston. Hoping everyone is safe.
Harriet Owen, Bath, England
It's been raining pretty heavily for a couple of hours now, people are anticipating the power to be shut off at any moment. There was a lot of scepticism that Dean would hit us full on, it seems to have changed course a little, the eye won't tear across the centre of the island, but reports are that it will come with devastating winds. The breeze blowing through the house has stiffened already, just praying they won't lock off the power for a while longer.
Julian Jones-Griffith, Kingston, Jamaica
I don't know how long I can keep sending reports as power is going to be cut at 1000. I have a laptop as well, but the internet will fail. I have my camera here and my cell phone to take photos. We can't find a shelter and a lot of hotels have stopped taking guests, so all I can do is pray. My neighbours are in the same boat. Our houses are concrete with wooden tiled roofs. It is the roofs we are most concerned about and we spent all day yesterday driving in extra nails. I really fear for the poorer people in our neighbourhood because their houses are not as substantial.
Elaine Campbell, Hanover, Jamaica
Dean is totally different from Gilbert. Gilbert began with strong gusts of wind. I was on the beach and could see the storm coming in. So far Dean is a lot of rain, but not much wind, and no lightning or thunder. There are curfews to protect property from looters. People are ringing each other up to find out if they are alright. There is no traffic on the roads.
Suzanne Dodd, Kingston, Jamaica
It's approximately 0700 here in Ocho Rios Jamaica. The sky is very dark and we are getting sporadic showers. In normal times, people would be getting ready to go to church and the streets would be very lively and bustling. Today, everybody is waiting for Hurricane Dean's expected arrival in approximately three hours time for a diect hit. Everybody is worried because they don't know what to expect - life certainly won't be the same again if this hurricane hits us with a category 4 force. I am very sorry for the poor people who live in the low land areas. The authorities have made some last minute attempts to clean some drains and gullies that haven't been cleared in years, in an attempt to prevent flooding. I hope everybody will pray for us.
Sylvester Barrett, Ocho Rios Jamaica
Dawn has broken; it is currently 7:50 am. I went to bed at 2:00am, woke up for short period to check the weather report at 5:00am. The cable providers removed most of their antennae yesterday leaving only the weather channel, The Movie Channel, USA network and the local channels active. However, as I went to bed with the cable still working I woke up at 6:39 to find that we have lost it. Thankfully we still have power and broadband internet access. Current weather: Light rain, light wind gusts
Devron Graham, kingston, Jamaica
Dawn has broken here in Kingston and not to the usual warm blue sky and chorus of birdsong but the first real bit of wind shaking the palms and downpours underway. Dean still a good way off but due to be interesting over the next 12 hours. Latest track, at 0510 local time, shows Dean passing just south of us which may give us a bit of a reprieve but still a bit of a buffeting. A little light rain and breezy right now. All locked down, children asleep and we are sitting and waiting. Indications are that the power grid will be turned off at around 1000.
Ray Watters, Kingston, Jamaica
It's 0400 and there is an eerie calm here. It's sort of scary to sit and wait for a disaster. But we hope it wont take any lives at least.
Beatrice Hanson, Mandeville, Jamaica
I am praying and hoping the storm reduces speed and force because Jamaica can't handle another storm like the last one. When I went into town the shelves in the stores were empty, with people panic buying. Just pray for us all.
Kitson, Montego Bay, Jamaica
It's about 0155 and I cannot sleep due to my anxiety. As someone who was a child during Hurricane Gilbert, to hear that Dean is worse makes me very worried. There are already heavy winds outside. We have done everything that we need with the kitchen counter top filled with water in various containers. We have lots of batteries, kerosene and food. The refrigerator has been on maximum because it is filled with meats.
I am getting very worried not for myself but for the thousands of Jamaicans living in improper housing. All we can do is pray for the best and hope for no loss of life because that is the most important thing. Pray for us.
Shikera Fearon, Spanish Town, Jamaica
Dean is coming at us fast and one can't help but fear it will be as devastating or even more devastating than Hurricane Gilbert in 1988. The difference between now and then however is that people are taking this threat seriously and they seem to be preparing. Tinned goods, batteries, candles, dried goods and bottled water have all disappeared from the supermarket shelves and every hardware store I passed today was crammed with people buying boards and other materials to secure their property. Another concern is that serious damage may result in the national elections, which are scheduled for August 27th, being postponed. With preparations in place all that is left to do is wait. We hope for the best but have prepared for the worst.
Jodi Miles, Kingston, Jamaica
Like others have said, we have been busy preparing both office and home. We have loads of water, food, torches and batteries. We are trying to turn this into an adventure so the children are not too scared, although our six year old daughter is clearly anxious. She is very worried about losing her toys but I reassured her we would buy her some more. If only toys were our only worry.
Kate Marnoch, Grand Cayman
As in most of the island the conditions are quite calm and almost frighteningly quiet. The BBC short wave transmission was discontinued from around 1700 local time on Saturday and that's when I felt a sense of danger because I'm an avid BBC listener. I hope I'll be able to communicate with my fellow listeners abroad during the intense hurricane conditions this evening.
Hodari James, Montego Bay, Jamaica
I live in the corporate area and so far we've had short periods of light rain and continuous wind gusts. Many have prepared for the worst though some are sceptical as to whether the storm will hit us directly. The weather forecasts are changing continuously from direct hit to just the effects of a passing hurricane. The power company has notified us that it is possible the entire island will lose electricity at 1000 as the generators are shut down in the event of widespread downed power lines. Overall we're prepared for the worst - or so we hope as the government has failed to deliver on many of its promises of disaster preparedness.
Devron Graham, Kingston, Jamaica
I have moved to Constant Spring, and am above New Kingston, about 12 miles
from the sea. We don't know if the hurricane will hit head on, a bit north or south. Most people want it to move north as it is more likely to cause less damage. The rain began on Saturday evening about 1845. This was the first trace of Dean to touch Jamaica. Many people have been requested to evacuate. Shortly there will be mandatory evacuation. About 50 buses have been commandeered to move people, most to the national arena, but there are other shelters in various neighbourhoods which can take between 30 and 100 people.
The various parish disaster committees were activated and were working all day Saturday moving people. There are 134 shelters. The community leaders have been going around with megaphones informing those who should evacuate to do so. There is very little traffic. People are very quiet and suppressed. There's a lot of fear around. A great deal of panic buying has been going on. Batteries were sold out yesterday. There has been no bread since this morning. People have bought lots of sardines. Curfews are in effect, particularly in areas trying to prevent looting, such as commercial districts. The prisons are under special programmes. The airports have been closed. At 1000 this morning, electricity should be cut off.
Suzanne Dodd, Kingston, Jamaica
We've nailed down the roof, boarded up the windows and are now set to have a hurricane party. What else is there to do when it goes dark, the broadcasting ceases and the electricity is cut off? One thing I have noticed is we humans would think it was just like any other day, but the animals have gone quiet, you could not hear the birds all day Saturday.
Elaine Campbell, Hanover, Jamaica
SATURDAY, 18 AUGUST
Well it's pretty calm at the moment, but you can feel the tension as we prepare for what seems to be a very strong storm. People are doing what they can to be as prepared as possible. Petrol stations, supermarkets and hardware stores are busy as individuals stock up on well needed supplies. In St Ann we are hoping for the best. We do hope that there will be as minimal damage as possible.
Nicholas Nairne, St Ann, Jamaica
Well I'm very nervous, because Gilbert in 1988 was a Category 4, and Dean is now Category 4 and is not here yet! I am prepared physically, but not mentally. Can't imagine what is going to happen.
Marlene McPherson, Greater Portmore, Jamaica
It is currently 2245 on Saturday night and the weather in Port au Prince is dead calm. No wind, no rain, just a very still, hot, cloudy night, which is quite eerie as all of the satellite images show a huge hurricane very close, just off the South Coast of Haiti. Even more bizarrely, a colleague called this afternoon from Cap Haitian on the North Coast of Haiti to say that the situation there was quite worrying as there were high winds and heavy rainfall. Port au Prince has been calm all through the day and even hot and sunny earlier in the afternoon.
Ian Jones, Port au Prince, Haiti
I have just arrived from the north coast and the weather was just fine. On my way from the north coast (Puerto Plata) in the middle portions of the Dominican Republic heavy showers with gusty winds started up. At 7.00PM in Santo Domingo there is heavy showers with heavy winds going on.
Dr Deepak Pal, Santo Domingo, Dominican Rep
We are all waiting with fingers crossed. Dean is due to be Cat 4 or 5 when it hits us on Sunday night - we have moved the whole house to the first floor. Wish us all luck!
Michael Baulk, George Town Grand Cayman
Like others have said, we have been busy preparing both office and home. We have loads of water, food, torches and batteries! We are trying to turn this into an adventure so the children are not too scared, although our 6 year old daughter is clearly anxious. She is very worried about loosing her toys but I reassured her we would buy her some more. If only toys were our only worry!
Kate Marnoch, Grand Cayman
Well it's pretty calm at the moment. but you can feel the tention as we prepare for what seems to be a very strong storm. People are doing what they can to be as prepared as possible. Petrol stations,supermarkets and hardware stores are busy as individuals stock up on well needed supplies. In St Ann we are hoping for the best. We do hope that there will be as minimal damage as possible. Later.
Reader Jan Rennalls' home being boarded up in Stony Hill, Jamaica
Nicholas Nairne, St Ann, Jamaica
My boyfriend is in Jamaica with the Bermuda national squash team. They were there for the Carribean Squash Championships which has now been abandoned. They were due to flying back to Bermuda on the American Airlines flight at 6.40am Sunday morning but this has now been cancelled. They have been trying to leave Jamaica for two days without luck.
Eve Paterson, Warwick, Bermuda
With each passing hour, the country of Jamaica continues to prepare for the pending Hurricane Dean, which should hit shore sometime tomorrow afternoon. Shops and supermarkets are still full at this time, as citizens make last minute rush to stock up on essential items.
David Reid, Portmore, Jamaica
I am from the island of St.Lucia in the Caribbean. On Friday morning about 4.45am i woke up only to notice gusty winds and heavy rainfall. I also noticed thunder and lightning. A few hours later the roofs of houses were ripped off and also electricity poles were uprooted.
Ted Dornelly, Vieux Fort, St.Lucia
There is a mandatory evacuation going on in Little Cayman. It has been ordered in the past 2 hours. Little Cayman is north of Grand Cayman. All that can be done is being done and everyone is taking this extremely seriously and doing things in a calm manner on the small island.
Sandra Bennett, Little Cayman, Cayman Islands
Currently shoring up the house....getting ready to go to a shelter tomorrow evening. Feeling we aren't getting enough information.
Gady and Verity, George Town, Grand Cayman
Just had some heavy winds and rain, but seems to be passing right now on the north coast.
Gareth Milner, Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic
While yesterday a lot of people seemed eerily complacent, the mood now is quickly approaching the urgency that it deserves.
Tanya Billett, Kingston, Jamaica
I'm working on a drill ship in the Gulf of Mexico and we are getting everything prepared for Hurricane Dean approaching at the beginning of the week. Non-essential personnel are being flown back to land and we are battoning down the hatches ready for a rough few days.
Mr Thomson, Macduff, Scotland
We're getting the last bit of hurricane supplies in this morning - the supermarkets are chaotic and people's tempers are flaring. We've been told to expect a category 5 with storm surges of 28ft, fingers crossed it's going to pass quickly over the island and not leave too much devastation. Most companies have evacuated expats today, although a lot of people remain to see through the storm in their homes.
Sara Millner, George Town, Grand Cayman
I am one of hundreds of British ex-pats living in the Cayman Islands. Hurricane Ivan hit us as a Category 5 hurricane in Sept 04, putting 80% of the island of Grand Cayman under several feet of sea water. It took a couple of years to get life back to normal.
Here we go again. The tension is mounting as so many people know what to expect this time around. Everyone is trying to make their homes safe, since it is next to impossible to get flights off the island.
Andy Alexander, George Town, Cayman Islands
We cut short our sailing holiday in St.Lucia and holed out in one the Caribbean's original hurricane holes - Marigot Bay. It got very windy and fears were that the roof would come off but we made through. We have just had power restored which is pretty good for the islands, well done St.Lucia!
Simon & Lily, Mistley, England
We will be back on our feet in no time, persons are currently clearing the trees from the roads. Most businesses are open, and things are baisically back to normal.
I am an English law lecturer here. We got hit badly by Ivan and expect, should Dean hit, a huge amount of flooding as the island is low lying. This will make it two storms in three years.
Matthew Rollinson, Cayman Islands
It's 1040 (1540 GMT) and the sun is shining. It feels like any other day here - beautiful weather, calm skies. It is hard to believe that in a few hours we expect to be hit by Hurricane Dean. Just time to buy water and food and go over to a friend's house where I will be safer.
Teohna Williams, Port au Prince, Haiti
I live on the beach in the parish of St Thomas. I am sealing my house by putting rags and paper in the cracks around the door. I will turn up the fridge to the highest level because food will keep for two days if the fridge is unopened. I will remove the cereal and put that in a drawer with other dry goods. I suspect power will be cut off sometime tonight. I will put the television in the closet wrapped in plastic. I have the windows already barred with zinc and will strip the bed and put the mattress against these windows. I have stored about 12 gallons of water to drink. When I'm done, I'm leaving to spend the hurricane with friends a few miles north. I expect complete devastation and several deaths if the hurricane hits us.
Suzanne Dodd, Kingston, Jamaica
The hurricane has not yet reached us here but I, along with the rest of Jamaica, are hoping that it will change course. If it doesn't I hope the damage will not be extensive. I really feel for the families of those people who have lost their lives and I'm hoping no more lives will be taken. Please continue to give the warning to people to be careful.
Trecia, Salt Spring, Hanover, Jamaica.
We live right on the beach and are expecting a direct hit. We will be evacuating to a friend's property further inland. We hope our home will still be standing when it's over. We are stocking up on food and water supplies, clearing up outside, moving anything that could fly around in the storm. We are British expats working here. This storm could potentially damage our employers' businesses and result in unemployment for us later. We expect this storm to prevent communications to the outside word meaning we will not be able to contact our families for some time after - weeks, maybe even months if Hurricane Ivan is anything to go by. The whole island is a hive of activity this morning with all residents preparing for the worst, hoping for the best.
Oliver Clarke and Accalia Hipwood, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
We are preparing for the worst from a category Five hurricane. We are praying that it does not cause as much damage as Ivan did just three years ago. We learned a lot from our Ivan experience and the state of preparedness is much greater than it was then.
Melanie Harbron, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
Everyone is really starting to prepare here. Many people are trying to get off the island by plane but all the flights are booked up. New flights are being put on but it is not enough. People were so affected by Hurricane Ivan that most individuals want to get off the island to a safer place. I tried to get to the United States but there were no flights at all. I am now going to the Bahamas today as that was the only flight available. The ones that are staying are boarding up their houses and buying lots of supplies. The apartment I live in is right on the beach and the storm surge went up to the ceiling during Hurricane Ivan. So we know that if it's a big storm this place will be destroyed again. It's very upsetting thinking about what the tropical paradise you know and love will be like after you return. Everyone is preparing for the worst.
Samantha Brear, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
Local time is 0725 (1225 GMT). Last night the big supermarket in Montego Bay was the busiest I have seen it, with people buying cases of water, candles and tinned foods. There was no bread left at all and people were complaining. Today the people in my neighbourhood are starting to prepare their homes by boarding up their windows and putting extra nails in the roofs. Our neighbourhood is made up of concrete buildings with shingle or tiled roofs. We are very near to the sea, but we are in an elevated position of over 100ft or more. I can actually see the sea, which I will be keeping an eye on. The strange thing is that a lot of the poorer people living in ramshackle type board houses are not taking it seriously and I pray that nothing happens to them. The weather at the moment is like any other day, calm with little cloud and no wind or breeze.
Elaine Campbell, Hanover, Jamaica
It's approximately 0725. The people in my community woke up early to get their last minute preparations, such as filling up the necessary containers with clean water and battening down roofs. At this point the weather appears fine.
Patrice Davis, Portmore, St Catherine, Jamaica
We are on hurricane alert here. After living through Hurricane Wilma, most people here are taking additional precautions. Most of our neighbourhood is now prepared, the authorities are doing an excellent job as part of the awareness programme. Local schools have been converted into shelters and are ready to receive people. Power will be shut down at 1800 and a general curfew will begin. As for now, it's a glorious day in Cancun, your typical calm before the storm.
Michael Smith, Cancun, Mexico
I live in the Yucatan Peninsula and am now waiting for Dean to arrive, probably on Monday night or Tuesday morning. Dean will be my third hurricane since retiring here in 2003. All I can do is close doors and windows, batten down hatches and hope all will be over in 24 hours. It is only a problem if you live in a badly constructed property.
Peter Westwood, Merida, Mexico
We're in the Cayman Islands and the current path suggests it will go straight through here. We've only just recovered from Ivan which passed just south in 2004. I hate to think how badly a direct hit will be. We're all prepared and have supplies of water and dry food, but most of the island is only a couple of feet above sea level so the main concern is for people's cars. Last time the island was completely under water. I hope it's not the same this time around. Good luck everyone, be safe.
Lee Wooding, Grand Cayman
People here are calm but we still have another 36 hours or so until Hurricane Dean hits or passes. Hurricane shelters have been set up and flights have been leaving the island. Tickets are however difficult to obtain, and for those that have got flights, they have been expensive.
The shops are opening specially on Sunday but even yesterday shelves were emptying of essentials. This island was only hit three years ago by category Five Hurricane Ivan and has got itself back on its feet pretty well. Construction methods have apparently altered significantly since Ivan and hopefully Dean's impact will be minimal compared to Ivan. Now we wait and prepare as best we can.
David Chatfield, Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman
We live in a traditional old Jamaican house with a wooden roof, so we are battening down the hatches and will have to move to a friend's house tonight for safety. We hope we have a house to come back to next week.
Carole, Ocho Rios, Jamaica
We are under a tropical storm warning waiting for the centre of Hurricane Dean to pass a few dozen miles to the south. In less than a few hours we expect to be under huge winds and an awful lot of rain. It's strangely quiet now as first light arrives, as if all the wind and sound has been sucked out of the city. It's a bank holiday weekend here, so by the time the working week here starts on Tuesday the storm will hopefully have passed us by without too much of a disaster. Our thoughts are with our close neighbours in the south of Haiti and the people of Jamaica now directly in the path of the hurricane.
Bryan Langley, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
As a British resident living in Little Cayman and inexperienced in hurricanes, my main concern is why at this stage have the sister islands not been evacuated. Little Cayman in particular is very tiny and low-lying and there appears to be no plans to leave the island. If anyone has any suggestions as to who could offer evacuation support please do post information.
K, Little Cayman
We are just getting ready. Filling up the bath with water, unplugging all the computers at work and covering them with polythene bags. Taping the windows. Most of the supermarkets are full with people stocking up with drinking water, batteries and candles and food. People are filling up their cars with gas, anticipating power cuts once the Hurricane hits. We will all be watching the television closely over the next 24 hours, with the Hurricane due on Sunday morning. Apparently power lines can be down for some time once it hits,
John Townend, Kingston, Jamaica
I am on a ship in the Gulf of Mexico. We're doing work here and are being forced to wait until Sunday before we can recover our gear and try to avoid the Hurricane. Hopefully it will pass more to the south.
Hamill, Gulf of Mexico
FRIDAY, 17 AUGUST
People are starting to prepare now for Dean. Everybody is out getting their cars filled up, buying plywood and non-perishable food. Some people are buying liquor and are planning to have a "hurricane party". It might seem a frivolous thing to do, but it is a good way to bring communities together, so that they can all look out for each other and pitch in if needed.
Reader Lee Wilbur sent this picture of a sea surge in Dominica
Elaine Campbell, Hanover, Jamaica
We have just been put on hurricane watch. Everybody is getting prepared for the storm which may hit us late Sunday or early Monday just as it gets stronger. People have been through this before a few years ago with Hurricane Ivan so we are taking it seriously but no panic - at the moment. People are queuing for petrol and food, even money from the banks.
Michael, Cayman Islands
Although the initial onslaught of Hurricane Dean did some damage to our beautiful island - roofs blown away, trees brought down - it was after it had passed through the Martinique St Lucia channel that the continuous rain took its toll. Dominica is a mountainous country with many rivers which are now overflowing. The land is saturated resulting in floods and landslides, and now, large sea swells are breaching our sea defences as Dean ploughs its way through the Caribbean sea. And it's still raining. Electricity has now returned to some parts of the island. The rest will have to wait till tomorrow. The water supply was turned off to protect the system from being clogged up with silt. Hopefully it will be turned back on on Saturday.
We know of hurricanes, what to expect and the extensive damage they cause. Many heroic deeds have taken place, as caterpillars and chainsaws go to work, our two radio stations keeping the nation informed, politicians reassuring the population, hurricane centres opened and running. Hopefully the rain will leave our shores later tonight, leaving a clear and starlight night, so that the clean-up can start tomorrow. The cost to our small and fragile economy will be enormous. Yet, we consider ourselves blessed, as it could have been so much worse.
Bruce Martins, Roseau, Dominica
While not out and out destructive, Dean inflicted some damage on a country that does not need it at this time. Much of the damage appeared to have been trees falling onto power and communication lines. Several buildings lost their roofs including the Children's' Ward at Victoria Hospital. The road leading to the international airport became impassable, and for some time there were appeals from the authorities that only essential emergency services should use the road. There was some flooding in the capital, Castries, when strong storm surges deposited protector boulders onto one of the main roads adjacent to the government buildings. The local power company Lucelec has proved to be ready to the task, and has systematically restored power to several areas. Given the strength of the winds, it is likely that the recovering banana industry will suffer another setback.
Frank Myers, Castries, St Lucia
Well Dean has passed us causing a lot less damage than was forecasted. A lot of the banana crop has been destroyed and quite a few trees fell. However, only a few roofs have been blown in and essential services are now back in many parts of the country.
K Jean, St Lucia