Where's the disaster aid offer from the international community ??
Hurricane Charley Devastates Western Florida
Aug 14, 6:20 AM (ET)
By Marc Serota
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. (Reuters) - Hurricane Charley leveled houses and snapped trees in half as it raged into the western Florida coast, leaving 1 million people without power and an expected billion-dollar price tag before moving into the Atlantic Saturday.
A hurricane warning extended from Georgia to the North Carolina-Virginia state line as Charley churned through the ocean, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said. It was expected to reach the South Carolina coast later in the day.
Packing winds of 145 mph (233 kph), Charlie was a powerful Category 4 storm when came ashore Friday at Punta Gorda and Port Charlotte, catching many residents unprepared because of expectations the brunt of the hurricane would hit the coast much farther north.
"I never seen anything like this before," said Victor Rivera as he stood on top of a pile of rubble that used to be the car parts shop where he worked in Port Charlotte.
The storm plowed across central Florida, weakening as it dumped heavy rains on Orlando, home to Disney World, and aimed for the Atlantic. Charley was expected to regain some strength over the water before crossing back onto land in the Carolinas and proceeding through to the north as a tropical storm.
In its wake, overturned boats sat in front of shredded storefronts, power lines dangled in standing water, street signs and billboards were ripped away and palm tree trunks, snapped in half like matchsticks, were wrapped with twisted metal.
Few windows had been boarded up, and most were blown out. Mobile home parks were devastated and 18-wheel tractor-trailers flipped over like toys.
On exclusive Captiva Island, offshore from Punta Gorda, 160 condominiums were totally destroyed and a similar number seriously damaged, the National Weather Service said.
The storm ripped the roof off an emergency shelter in DeSoto County, exposing the thousand people who had sought refuge within to pounding rain and ferocious winds, the service said.
ASSESSING THE DAMAGE
Florida Power & Light said 429,000 customers were left without electricity. Progress Energy Florida said 477,000 people were sitting in the dark.
"This storm has caused a tremendous amount of destruction," said a Progress company spokesman.
The state emergency management agency said it was too early to put a figure on the damages, or to estimate casualties.
But a catastrophic risk management group, Risk Management Solutions, estimated Charley could have inflicted up to $15 billion of insured damage.
President Bush declared Florida a disaster area to speed emergency assistance.
Forecasters had expected Charley to hit the densely populated Tampa area north of Port Charlotte and nearly 2 million people were ordered to evacuate.
But the storm suddenly gathered intensity as it headed for land and made a last-minute turn that brought it ashore farther south, catching off guard many who had ignored evacuation orders because they thought they were safe.
By 5 a.m. (0600 GMT), Charley was about 115 milessouthwest of Charleston, South Carolina, near latitude 31.
By 5 a.m. (0600 GMT), Charley was about 115 milessouthwest of Charleston, South Carolina, near latitude 31. 2north and longitude 80.5 west, and its winds had reduced to 85mph (138 kph). It was moving north-northeast at 25 mph (40 kph)and packing winds of up to 85 mph (136 kph). One storm-related death had been confirmed in Florida byFrida y night. A tractor trailer truck, possibly pushed by agust of wind, crossed a highway median and fell on top of a carn ear Orlando, killing a child passenger in the car. Charley was blamed for four deaths in Cuba and one inJamaica aft er it formed in the Caribbean Tuesday. As a Category 4 storm -- the second strongest on a scaleused to rate hurr icanes -- Charley rated as one of the mostdangerous storms to hit Florida. Hurricane Andrew was believed to be a Ca tegory 4 storm whenit hit Miami in August 1992, causing $25 billion in damage. Itwas subsequently upgraded to a Catego ry 5. Hurricane Hugo,which caused $7 billion in damage when it hit South Carolina in1989, was also a Category 4.
we don't need your stinking aid anyways