Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne got their minutes of fame in early fall when they took turns whipping parts of Florida and the Caribbean with winds of up to 250 mph and tidal surges so high that one island actually disappeared from radar screens.

Where again was that exactly, and how's the recovery going?

To find out, now that winter-vacation planning season is here, we sent six reporters south: to the Florida coasts, to the Bahamas and to two Caribbean islands, Grand Cayman and Jamaica. They found places that already are beginning to look like their old selves, if they could paste some fronds on their naked palm trees.

They also found zones of rubble-strewn devastation. And they found areas that merely need the contents of a few more Home Depots to make things right.

No matter where they roamed, they heard a familiar refrain: Tourists are our lives, and our livelihoods. Bring 'em on.

But are they ready for us?

Our reports begin on Page P4.

GRAND BAHAMA: Hard hit by hurricanes Frances and Jeanne, the Bahamian island is set to reopen 1,000 hotel rooms by mid-December. But not the Crowne Plaza, pictured above as it looked on Sept. 6. Update on Page P4. GRAND CAYMAN

A heavily damaged home in the Breakers is typical of the landscape on the east side, but the island's famous Seven Mile Beach was largely spared.

Page P4.


The garden at the Caves in Negril was flattened by Ivan. But renovation is well underway at the boutique hotel -- as well as at other properties islandwide. Page P5. SOUTHEAST FLA.

The Palm Court Resort on Vero Beach was hit by Jeanne and will be shuttered for at least another year. Other area hotels, though, have already opened, or plan to in coming months.


On Pensacola Beach, the longest fishing pier in the Gulf of Mexico is partially open after Ivan. But its snack shop is closed, much like many other spots from Destin, Fla., to Alabama's Gulf Coast. Page P8.SOUTHWEST FLA.

Workers remove a tree felled by Charley as clean-up efforts continue on Sanibel Island, which lost most of its

Australian pines. Page P7.