Hurricane Jeanne pushed across Florida, launching leftover storm debris, tearing apart weakened buildings, cutting power for millions, and leaving the nation's fourth most populous state dazed by relentless pounding from four hurricanes in six weeks. At least six people died during and after the storm.
Densely populated South Florida, especially Broward and Miami-Dade counties, was spared the worst. Broward County reported scattered power outages and downed trees, but for most residents, the storm was less destructive and unnerving than Hurricane Frances had been three weeks earlier.
Palm Beach County was not so fortunate: More than two-thirds of its Florida Power & Light Co. customers were left in the dark and more than 12,000 people sought refuge in 16 shelters, including 700 who remained at four county shelters as late as Sunday.
Jeanne dealt a harsh blow during the meanest hurricane season in Florida history.
"I'm a tough guy, but not that tough," said Robert Pierson as he sorted through his scattered possessions in what remained of his home in A Garden Walk, a mobile-home park west of Riviera Beach. The park was hit by a tornado in 2003, Hurricane Frances on Sept. 5, and now Hurricane Jeanne.
"One more of these and we're leaving," he said.
In Brevard County, firefighter Troy Marshall canvassed neighborhoods with his partner, a scene echoed in every community in Jeanne's wake. They knocked on doors, asked if anyone needed help, and then used orange spray paint to mark a large "X" on each home they visited.
They came across Mary Musser, who moved into her mobile home three days after Hurricane Charley struck Florida's west coast. She evacuated during Frances, but said she didn't have the strength to do it again. So she stayed alone in her two-bedroom trailer -- a decision she quickly came to regret.
When the power went out at about 8 p.m. Saturday, she said she lit a candle, held a flashlight and read the Bible. At one point, she said she called 911 for help, but it was too late for anyone to rescue her.
"So I said that if the good Lord wants me, he can take me," said Musser. "I was feeling the wall, and I said, `Dear God, please don't let the wall fall.' "
The wall stood, but sections of her roof peeled away and many of her windows shattered.
"This is catastrophic," Musser said.
A major Category 3 hurricane with shrieking winds up to 120 mph, Jeanne made landfall just before midnight at Hutchinson Island near Stuart, about 35 miles north of West Palm Beach. Almost 400 miles across, the storm sliced across waterlogged Central Florida to Tampa, dumping about 8 inches of rain, then turned north and weakened into a tropical storm.
Jeanne was neither as big as Frances nor as powerful as Ivan and Charley, but the wide swath of destruction added to Florida's misery. Jeanne's predecessors killed at least 102 people in the United States, and left an estimated $15 to $20 billion in damage.
Across Florida, Hurricane Jeanne closed airports, seaports, theme parks and NASA's space center at Cape Canaveral, where winds clocked at 79 mph left gaping holes in the huge building where the space shuttles are assembled.
In Miami, a man was electrocuted when he touched a downed power line. A Boynton Beach couple died when their Nissan Pathfinder plunged into 40 feet of water beside the Sawgrass Expressway in Coconut Creek.
In Brevard County, a man, 60, who apparently drank too much at a hurricane party was found lying face down on the floor after the house flooded. An autopsy would determine whether he drowned or died of alcohol poisoning. Another man died, apparently after driving his pickup truck into a ditch in Palm Bay.
And, in Clay County, a 15-year-old died when he was struck by a falling tree.
Mind-boggling numbers amassed across Florida on Sunday told the broader story:
2004 - Hurricane Jeanne
The last storm of the season
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