Katrina Soaks Florida, Gains Force in Gulf Hurricane Katrina gains strength in the Gulf of Mexico after drenching the Miami-Fort Lauderdale metropolitan area early Friday. At least four deaths were blamed on the storm. Utility companies reported more than 1 million customers without power as of Friday afternoon.
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Katrina Soaks Florida, Gains Force in Gulf

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Katrina Soaks Florida, Gains Force in Gulf

Katrina Soaks Florida, Gains Force in Gulf

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Hurricane Katrina battered large areas of Miami today, leaving nearly a million people without power. At least seven deaths are attributed to the storm. Katrina is now strengthening over the Gulf of Mexico. Forecasters expect it to make landfall again on Monday morning. NPR's Phillip Davis reports.


For just a Category 1 hurricane, Katrina packed an enormous amount of destructive power. Katrina destroyed a concrete highway bridge under construction in Miami, and it uprooted giant trees and flung them across major roads all over the area. Brickell Avenue, a palm-tree-lined neighborhood of elegant banks and expensive condos in Miami, was one of those roads closed by a fallen ficus tree.

(Soundbite of raking)

DAVIS: Luis Maurice(ph), who lives in a small Brickell Avenue condo, was cleaning up with his son.

Mr. LUIS MAURICE (Miami Resident): We were kind of surprised with the strength of this Category 1. I think it was kind of unexpected. Kind of creeped up on us, so we weren't expecting such a strong storm without usually the warning that we usually get a couple--two or three days, they're beating their drums and everybody getting ready. But I guess it's a lesson for all of us to be learned that these storms, you cannot take them lightly 'cause they're very, very unpredictable.

DAVIS: Maurice's power was out, like hundreds of thousands of other people throughout the area. Florida Power & Light, the local utility, had no estimates today when power would be completely restored.

The storm's impact was not just on land. At the Dinner Key Marina in Miami, 40- and 50-foot-long sailing yachts lay scattered like toy boats on the shore, ripped from their moorings. Samuel Himmins(ph) was cleaning up his shrimper called the Slapshot(ph). He had weathered the storm last night on his boat.

Mr. SAMUEL HIMMINS (Shrimper Owner): I mean, I was here on the boat, and it blew in, like, probably 95, a hundred miles an hour. There were boats blowing everywhere. People were fending off--you know, it was pretty devastating.

DAVIS: Because of the storm, he didn't stay, as he normally would, on his 28-foot sailboat docked nearby, which he had secured with not one, but five anchors. This morning, he woke to find his boat hundreds of feet away on shore.

Mr. HIMMINS: The wind blew it and blew it up on the beach and just pounded it until it came to pieces.

DAVIS: Now the hurricane is out on the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico, where forecasters say it'll strengthen to a Category 3 or even Category 4 storm, with winds in excess of a hundred miles an hour. Stacey Stewart, a hurricane specialist with the National Weather Service, said Katrina seems to be gathering strength for yet another assault on land.

Mr. STACEY STEWART (National Weather Service): We were forecasting it to reintensify to a significant hurricane after it moved back out over the Gulf of Mexico. We're just expecting it to be a little bit stronger.

DAVIS: Governor Jeb Bush has already declared a state of emergency in Florida, and he urged people to take the storm seriously.

Governor JEB BUSH (Republican, Florida): You have two days to calmly go about your business of making sure that you have the necessary supplies for your home, that your home has been secured, and we would urge you to do so.

DAVIS: If hurricane-weary residents are wondering if this is a more active season than normal, they're right. Katrina is the 11th named storm of the year; that's seven more than the average for this time of year. Phillip Davis, NPR News, Miami.

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