Category Four Hurricane Charley Slams into Southwest Florida

Western Florida is now feeling the force of Hurricane Charley.

It slammed into Sanibel Island his afternoon, with its powerful 145 mile-an-hour winds. And now, it's also hit the mainland near Charlotte Harbor.

Residents hunkered down as best they could as the Category Four storm came ashore. Charley hit just southwest of Fort Myers, and about 160 miles southeast of the Tampa Bay area -- the most populous region on Florida's west coast.

On Fort Myers Beach, sea water is swamping the barrier island. A hotel operator described her resort as ''going under.'' She and her husband braced themselves, along with six hotel employees, in the center of the Pink Shell Beach Resort.

Almost two (m) million people have been urged to evacuate in advance of the storm. More than the winds and rain, forecasters fear potentially devastating storm surges of up to 20 feet.

Florida Governor Jeb Bush says damage could exceed 15 billion dollars.