Hurricane Charley: Aftermath: Major damage and loss of life.

Dec 4, 2003
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Hurricane Charley: Aftermath
Some newspaper links to Charley




FLORIDA NEWSPAPERS: -Fort Myers -Jacksonville -Key West!NEWSROOM/index.htm -Melbourne -Naples -Orlando -Port Charlotte -Sarasota -St Petersburg -Tampa

I will add some other links to tv stations later on

Hurricane Charley: Aftermath
Some links to local tv stations, national networks and local NWS offices.

Ft Myers: -Ft. Myers: WBBH Ch. 20 -Ft. Myers: WINK Ch. 11

Tampa -St. Petersburg: WTSP Ch. 10 -Tampa: WFLA Ch. 8 -Tampa: WFTS Ch. 28 -Tampa: WTVT Ch. 13


Give them time, the local National Weather Offices
usually will put some information on Charley Aftermath
so check back from time to time.

NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE: -Jacksonville -Key West -Melbourne -Miami -Tampa


I know that in Punta Gorda there is a TON of damage. My Grandparents house is a total loss and my uncles didn't fare so well in Port Charlotte.

Sketchy reports I've gotten from my aunt thus far is the whole first floor was under water at one point, the roof is gone, a boat is in the stairwell and 2 of the exterior walls were ripped off.

When/If I get pics I'll post them assuming I don't head to FL to help my family clean up, then I'll post a ton of them.

My Grandparents evacuated about 2 hours prior to the storm hitting thank goodness.
I am in Athens, Greece right now and can't click through all those links. Can somebody do some brief reports without links. The highlights?
Early damage estimates have Charley at least 15-20 billion dollars,
there is loss of life and major destruction.

Siginificant loss of life is being reported at a trailer park.

How sad, my prayers goes out to those who are affected.

Doing a search on that, the news feeds have a report of 3 dead in a NC trailer park from Bonnie (the previous storm system). This is not from the Florida hurricane.
The death toll from Hurricane Charley rose early Saturday, when a county official said there had a been "significant loss of life" at a mobile home park and deputies were standing guard over stacks of bodies because the area was inaccessible to ambulances.
Source: Associated Press (from early this morning)
Major networks are reporting the story.

The reports we're getting here have said as few as 3 deaths and as many as 24. Though none would obviously be the best, since we can't have that I can only hope it's the latter.

The reporst have also said the winds were up to 140 mph — that may just be media sensationalism — what are they saying over there?
I've issued a lot of tornado, severe thunderstorm and flash flood warnings in my career, but it really hit me personally yesterday.

Back on the graveyard shift Thursday morning I was scanning Southwest and other airlines for flights to go to SW Florida to chase the storm, however model data steered me otherwise. This wasn't an ordinary August thursday morning as we were sitting at a record 47 degrees and the front was surging toward the gulf. Strong upper level divergence with the approaching longwave and very very warm surface waters suggested a.) Charley was going to explode just before landfall ala Opal and b.) it was going to turn right much quicker than NHC had anticipated. My "chase" target ended up being Punta Gorda as a major hurricane...I think I said 940mb in IRC? (yes I have numerous witnesses to back this up).

A small problem arose with that forecast. My godparents (aunt/uncle) and my father both have houses in Punta Gorda, at 2 feet elevation, both on canals a mile from the Gulf. The thought of chasing quickly turned into panic as I am very familiar with this area and the thought of 10-15 feet of water coming up Charlotte Harbor (a VERY shallow water body) would have meant total devistation miles inland....nevermind the winds.

My dad still lives in Rhode Island and is renting out the house, but my aunt/uncle had just come back from the store with supplies and planned to hold down the condo when I called down there Thursday morning. Thankfully, I was able to plead for them to go to Boca Raton on the east coast and stay with my grandparents as they highly valued my sense of urgency and expectations for total devistation. My aunt just had surgery last week and my uncle is recovering from a bout with cancer, so you can imagine that convincing them to leave everything they own was quite a challenge. The convincing arguement ended up being "Hey, if it misses to the north, then the damage is fairly minor and you got to spend the day with your sister".

And so the story hurricane chase partner, one of the lead forecasters at the NWS decided to head down to FL (he was thinking cat 2 in Tampa like everyone else). I declined the invite as it would be pretty two-faced to evacuate my own family and then go down and get myself killed. Doug Keisling was also in FL at Tampa/St Pete.

Both Wes and Doug ended up practically across the street from each at the hospital and one at the court house in Punta Gorda. Thank God, both are OK and I talked to both last night. Wes suffered a much more traumatizing experience as part of the hospital collapsed and numerous windows blew in, injuring numerous patients and staff who were huddled in the interior on the 3rd floor. He had been through both Andrew and Opal, and said the winds were FAR worse, even though it only lasted 20 minutes or so. This may be true as I've now heard that the hospital's anemometer clocked a 173 mph gust before blowing away. Furthermore, it's interesting to note that Punta Gorda's last observation had a 109 mph wind gust with a SLP of 997.4mb. This was only 15-20 miles NE of the center. This meant that another *50+* mb pressure fall had to occur in that short distance to acheive the measured SLP of 941mb, so by rough 5 winds in Punta Gorda were entirely possible.

There is total devistation there and it's nearly impossible to get in/out which is probably why I've seen so little footage of the worst damage. Based on what I've heard, the death toll is going to be a lot higher than what early reports have suggested. The only saving grace is that the NE winds ahead of the storm and barrier islands apparently spared Charlotte Harbor of the worst storm surge, which actually was worse farther south toward FMY.

Whether or not my aunt/uncle and father have anything to come back to remains to be seen. At least I know they're alive and material items can be replaced. Despite a perfect forecast, my uncle said it best last night during a tear filled phone conversation: "No matter how obvious it may seem to evacuate and spend a lousy day out of harms way, for many elderly residents along the coast, our homes are our children that they've worked all their lives for. Would you want to abandon your "child" that easily?"

Just some food for thought and a story. As an aside, we captured some incredible imagery with the upcoming StormLab 3.0 yesterday. Here's a glimpse of the concentric eyewalls that resulted in the rapid deepening of Charley just as it came ashore (you may need to use the image scrollbars to see the right half).

Evan Bookbinder
Springfield, MO

If that's true, then this would, I think, be the worst loss of life in a U.S. hurricane since Camille . . . whose 35th anniversary is creeping up.
The sad thing is I don't see any thing NWS/NHC could of done to improve the loss of life. Those that died stayed behind and took their lives in to their own hands. Supposedly there is numerous reports of loss of lives in mobile home parks. Hours before the hurricane landfall, local tv stations even mentioned the harm that this storm posed to these very same parks. What can ya do?

Found this statement from June 1st 2004
In Charlotte County there is no refuge sites with cat3 or higher

"June 1, 2004

According to the Charlotte County Emergency Management Office, none of these Refuge Sites are sanctioned by the American Red Cross. These locations will by opened as County-run shelters. Do not depend on a particular Refuge Site being open. Refuge Sites may or may not be opened depending on the size of the storm and the predicted landfall area. Charlotte County has no Refuge Sites if there is a Category 3 or higher storm affecting the area.
I wonder if there were "hurricane parties" here, too . . . it's been a while since a major storm on this coast, and the last one (?) at all was Irene in 1999 . . .
NBC-2 still has their feed online. Charlotte county EM just got off the phone said, they have thousands of homes destroyed. Half of the counties fire stations were also destroyed. They also mentioned that they think that based on what they have seen thus far, that Charley will compare to Andrew.

Edit: They just showed some video from the air.... whole mobile home parks are practically gone. They also said that Northern Captiva Island is now two islands.... a 400yard gap now seperates the two.
They could take a cue from Ship Island, MS, and name the gap "Charley Cut." I don't doubt the 140-mph wind reports now. :(

And another TV station:
WKMG-TV Orlando
The last report I have is:

•estimated $6 billion damage
•15 confirmed dead
•>2,000 injured
•60 body bags ordered to Punta Gorda
•extensive damage to both trailer parks and neighborhoods of proper houses
•>700,000 homes without power

It seems that this was the most intense hurricane to strike FL since Andrew.

Most news stories here have commented on how no-one was really completely prepared because the storm was expected to strike further north, around Tampa. They also noted that over 2 million were ordered to evacuate, but less than half did. One could say that there was an element of complacency in residents, for there haven't been many strong storms — or just many, period — in the area for some time. The storngest to hit this part of FL before now was Donna in 1960. Between then and Charley, only 3 storms have hit this coast by approaching from the SW — Isbell (cat-1) in 1964, Irene (cat-1) in 1999, and Dennis (TS) in 1981. Other storms, like Gordon (TS) in 1994, Dottie (TS) in 1971, Floyd (cat-1) in 1987, and Andrew (approx. cat-3) in 1992 have only minimally affected this region: Charlotte and Lee counties. Also, the last really big storm to head right at them, cat-3 Elena in 1985, swung away at the last minute, which couldn't have helped.
I am having a hard gauging what things are like down there since I am in Greece right now. Any comparisons to Andrew? Worse? I remember it took a few days before the effects of Andrew were felt.
My heart goes out to all affected by Charley.
Looking at the on line links and other reports over here on broadband it is hard for those not involved to understand the severity of the situation.
I have heard from members of a Yahoo group I belong to who escaped with just minor damage.
Best wishes and hope day to day life gathers some form of routine soon.

My sister-in-law and her family live in Arcadia, about 20 miles inland. A tree came down and smashed their car, and they lost some shingles off the roof of their home, but otherwise they are OK (though without power and water). However, about 2 blocks away from where they live, whole neighborhoods were "levelled," and the downtown area is a "war zone" with rubble everywhere.
Originally posted by B Ozanne
I am having a hard gauging what things are like down there since I am in Greece right now. Any comparisons to Andrew? Worse? I remember it took a few days before the effects of Andrew were felt.

I went through Andrew in '92. The comparisons to Charley as I see it are similar but on a much smaller scale. The damage path Charley created looks very much like Andrew, however since it hit a much lower populated area, Charley's eye was even smaller and the winds were weaker, the overall event is not as severe as Andrew. One thing I noticed so far is that not many of the homes and businesses had boarded up as compared to what other areas do on the east coast, and it seems as quite of few of the people in the path assumed the hurricane was going to Tampa.

This time around, with more direct media coverage and lessons learned from Andrew, it seems the victims are and will be soon getting the help they need to begin the rebuilding process and not have to wait days and days to get assistance.
"I wonder if some of the people that didn't evacuate, couldn't."

No. The evac plan includes methods of mass transportation free of charge.