Frightened residents of the Gulf Coast from Florida's Panhandle to Louisiana's bayous boarded up windows, packed and hit the road Tuesday as Hurricane Ivan charged in their direction. Schools and coastal casinos were ordered closed and more than 1 million people were urged to evacuate the vulnerable New Orleans area.
A hurricane watch was posted for a 420-mile-long swath from St. Marks in the Florida Panhandle, just south of Tallahassee, to New Orleans and Morgan City, La.
Authorities ordered or strongly urged residents and tourists to evacuate coastal areas of the Florida Panhandle, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. Schools were closed in New Orleans and parts of Florida, Mississippi and Alabama, and some areas started opening shelters. Panama City Beach was deserted at dawn Tuesday, according to the Guardian.
There was little resistance here to the order and most people have left already or are now one their way. Some say they are heeding the lessons learned by other Floridians after &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/accidents/2001/11/14/20874.html' target=_blank>hurricanes Charlie and Frances took their toll.
“I don’t want anyone else to get hurt, either, but I’m just praying it’s not us,” said Panama City Beach Mayor Lee Sullivan. Sullivan was the police chief in this resort community when Hurricane Opal made landfall as a Category 3 hurricane in October of 1995. While the eye of that storm came ashore in Pensacola, 60 miles west of here, Panama City took a brutal beating from the northeast side of the hurricane. Hotels were leveled and hundreds of homes and businesses destroyed, says MSNBC News.