Residents and tourists of Florida Panhandle prepare for Hurricane Ivan

Officials from the National Hurricane Center in Miami say Hurricane Ivan is moving toward the northwest near 9 miles per hour, and is packing winds of 160 miles per hour.

Emergency officials in several Florida Panhandle counties began issuing evacuation orders Monday for all those living in mobile homes, barrier islands and storm surge areas. As Ivan threatened to become the third hurricane to hit the Sunshine State this summer, residents in the Panhandle got serious about boarding up windows and stocking up on food.

The storm hit Cuba Monday and forecasters say Ivan could strike somewhere along the Gulf Coast by Wednesday. One forecaster says Ivan could weaken before plowing ashore, but still warns residents to be prepared for the Category Five storm that has killed at least 68 people in the Caribbean.

Residents and tourists who fled the Florida Keys were told the island chain had dodged Ivans fury and that they could return home. Approximately 280,000 homes and businesses in Florida are still without electricity as a result of Hurricane Frances.

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