Accessibility links

Hurricane Jeanne Slams into Florida  - 2004-09-26

About one million people in the U.S. state of Florida are without power, as Hurricane Jeanne moves across the state. Jeanne caused heavy flooding and extensive damage in the Bahamas and flooding in Haiti that has killed more than 1,000 people.

After pummeling the Bahamas, Jeanne came ashore in Florida at almost exactly the same place that Hurricane Frances did three weeks ago.

Forecaster Chris Sisko of the National Hurricane Center in Miami says forecasters are amazed that Atlantic Ocean steering currents would bring two storms ashore at virtually the same location.

"It is extremely rare. I cannot recall a time when we had a time when we had two hurricanes come ashore like that," he said. "I am sure that has happened in history, but we have not found that yet."

Jeanne was the fourth hurricane to strike Florida in less than two months, in one of the busiest hurricane seasons in memory. Florida is the first state to be hit by four hurricanes in one year since Texas in 1886.

In August, Hurricane Charley devastated southwestern parts of the state. Earlier this month, hurricanes Frances and Ivan struck the eastern and northern parts of Florida, causing extensive damage. So far, the storms have killed more than 70 people in Florida, and caused billions of dollars in damage.

Briefing reporters on Sunday, Florida relief official Thaddeus Cohen said relief workers are back on the job, but it will be some time before an accurate assessment of Jeanne's damage can be made.

"It is a very significant storm at this point," he said. "We are still getting tropical and hurricane force winds. We are not asking anyone to be out in that kind of weather. So, we are waiting for it to clear.

"However, as we are doing that, we have reconnaissance teams, who are already out there," continued Mr. Cohen. "We have National Guard teams out with the law enforcement people. At this moment, as the weather clears, the local emergency operation centers are starting to make those assessments. So, we need a little time to get to that point."

Authorities in the Bahamas say Jeanne caused extensive damage in the island chain, which was also hard hit by Hurricane Frances.

In Haiti, about 140 Uruguayan U.N. peacekeepers were dispatched to the city of Gonaives to reinforce about 600 U.N. peacekeepers already there. The peacekeepers are attempting to maintain law and order, after heavy flooding last week killed more than 1,000 people in the city, Haiti's third largest.

U.N. officials say they have only been able to get relief to about 25,000 people in the Gonaives area, and they say much of the rich agricultural area around the city is destroyed. Armed gangs continue to intimidate relief workers and residents, and much food aid has not been delivered because of the security concerns.