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No 10 in the World's Worst Hurricanes...
Hurricane Dennis formed early during the incredibly active 2005 Atlantic hurricane season, and was the first major hurricane that year. In July, the hurricane wound up breaking a number of records for early hurricane activity, becoming the earliest formation of a fourth tropical cyclone, as well as the strongest Atlantic hurricane to ever have formed before August.
Dennis primarily struck Cuba, having hit the island twice as a category 4 hurricane, before making landfall on the Florida panhandle as a category 3 hurricane storm not even a full year after Florida had recovered from Hurricane Ivan.
Hurricane Dennis Damage
Hurricane Dennis Aftermath
Because of the harsh memories attached to Hurricane Dennis, the name “Dennis” has been retired from the Atlantic hurricane naming lists, to be replaced with Don.
Hurricane Preparation for Hurricane Dennis
Just before Hurricane Dennis struck, uncertainty set in and oil prices jumped to $61.28 a barrel on July 6th, and again to $61.50 the next day, dropping back down to less than $60 on July 8th. The hurricane storm was initially forecast to strike Louisiana, one of the few oil producing regions along the Gulf coast.
Haitian officials evacuated residents living along the coastline, however, many were not willing to leave their homes. In Cuba, where residents fully understood the potential hurricane damage a hurricane promises, more than six hundred thousand people were moved from their homes and into either government or private shelters throughout the country in anticipation of the hurricane storm, all schools were closed, and most flights to and from the country were either suspended or cancelled.
In the US, states of emergency were declared by the Governors of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, and all southbound lanes on I 65 from Mobile to Montgomery were closed, with traffic being redirected to allow for all four northbound lanes to be freed up for evacuations.
In Alabama, residents of MobileCounty and BaldwinCounty were ordered to evacuate, while Mississippi ordered evacuations for Jackson, Hancock, and Harrison counties. Similarly, the coastal areas of the Florida Panhandle were ordered to evacuate.
Red Cross officials opened eighty seven shelters across the state, capable of holding a total of fourteen thousand evacuees, and fifty thousand tourists in the Keys were evacuated on July 8th.
National guardsmen and four emergency medical teams were mobilized in order to set up small field hospitals and kept on standby as military facilities like Eglin Air Force Base and Hurlburt Field were issued mandatory evacuations.
Hurricane Track for Hurricane Dennis
Hurricane Tracking for Hurricane Dennis
Hurricane Dennis began as a Tropical Depression Four in the south eastern portion of the Caribbean Sea late on July fourth. The hurricane storm immediately made landfall in Grenada as a tropical depression, and on the morning of July fifth, strengthened into Tropical Storm Dennis in the eastern part of the Caribbean.
The storm was already being predicted to make hurricane status as it began moving west by northwest, and reached category 1 hurricane status on July sixth while approaching the southern coast of Hispaniola. The next day it developed into a category 4 hurricane and moved north between Jamaica and Haiti on July 7th.
Both countries experienced heavy wind and rain, but, fortunately, averted major hurricane damage.
The storm developed into a category 5 hurricane as it approached Cuba, at which point, hurricane warnings were issued throughout the country.
The storm continued north by northwest towards the GulfCoast, and on July 10th, warnings were in effect throughout the Florida Panhandle, Alabama, and Mississippi.
The storm began to weaken just before landfall on Santa Rosa Island on July 10th, and became a category 3 hurricane, and then a tropical depression on July 11th. It then gained a little strength while stalling over Illinois on the 12th, and finally dissipated on the 13th over Ontario, with advisories ceasing three days after landfall.
Hurricane Dennis - (c) NASA
Hurricane Damage for Hurricane Dennis
While Jamaica suffered relatively weak hurricane damages, they did experience a single casualty and thirty two million in damages.
In Haiti, however, fifty six deaths did occur, perhaps attributable primarily to the reluctance of Haitian residents to properly prepare for the hurricane storm.
In Cuba, sixteen lives were lost, with one point four billion dollars in damages dealt. Over one hundred thousand homes were damaged, with fifteen thousand destroyed, and the citrus and vegetable industries experienced heavy losses.
In the US, hurricane damages were, thankfully, less devastating than most were prepared for. Although some ten billion dollars in property were lost, and fifteen deaths were linked to the storm.
Hurricane Relief and Hurricane Response for Hurricane Dennis
The US offered relief to the Caribbean islands, but, interestingly, Fidel Castro actually refused US aid in protest to the US trade embargo, stating that “Even if they offered me one billion dollars, we would say no”.
Hurricane Dennis damage in Cuba
How Hurricane Dennis Compares to Other Hurricanes
Hurricane Dennis is a perfect example of the importance of preparation. While Haiti was not struck as hard as Cuba and the US, they experienced much more in the way of life loss and injury, simply because they did not pay heed to the warnings. Alternately, in the US and Cuba, where residents are accustomed to hurricane preparations, there was heavy damage, but far less in the way of casualties.
Comparing this to Hurricane Katrina, that hurricane storm was so devastating thanks to a combination of unresponsiveness from the residents of the affected area, as well as just how intense the hurricane storm was.
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