Hurricane Jeanne crashes into Haiti

Hurricane Jeanne slams into Haiti, killing thousands, on this day in 2004. Coming just days after Hurricane Ivan, Jeanne was part of a series of deadly storms to hit the region during the 2004 hurricane season.

The storm formed on September 13 near Africa’s west coast. As it moved slowly across the Atlantic, it built up strength and was a Category 2 storm when it reached Haiti. Jeanne’s heavy rains proved to more destructive than its winds. When the floodgates on Haiti’s Peligre River failed, flash floods swept through entire villages, carrying away hundreds of people. The storm’s destruction echoed a tragedy in May 2003 in which hundreds were killed after a dam burst near Haiti’s border with the Dominican Republic.

Jean-Baptiste Agilus, a teacher, reported watching the water completely swallow houses in his neighborhood. ”The water rushed into all the homes in the neighborhood. It destroyed everything.” Gonaives, the port city where Haitians declared their independence from France in 1804, was particularly hard hit by Jeanne. Overall, about 3,000 people were killed by the hurricane and hundreds more were reported missing and never found. Mass graves were filled with corpses. Approximately 250,000 of Haiti’s 8 million people were left homeless by Jeanne. The Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico were also battered by the storm, but suffered relatively minor losses compared to Haiti’s.

Hurricane Jeanne then left Haiti and made its way to the north end of the Bahamas, where terrified residents were largely able to evacuate in time. Jeanne’s run ended as it slammed into Florida’s central coast. The people of Florida were well-prepared—Jeanne was the fourth major hurricane to hit the state in 2004. Charley, Frances and Ivan had already pounded the state. Thanks to prudence and caution, only three people died in Florida.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!


John Paul Jones victorious

During the American Revolution, the U.S. ship Bonhomme Richard, commanded by John Paul Jones, wins a hard-fought engagement against the British ships of war Serapis and Countess of Scarborough off the east coast of England. Scottish-born John Paul Jones first sailed to America as more

Lewis and Clark return

Amid much public excitement, American explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark return to St. Louis, Missouri, from the first recorded overland journey from the Mississippi River to the Pacific coast and back. The Lewis and Clark Expedition had set off more than two years more

Eighth planet discovered

German astronomer Johann Gottfried Galle discovers the planet Neptune at the Berlin Observatory. Neptune, generally the eighth planet from the sun, was postulated by the French astronomer Urbain-Jean-Joseph Le Verrier, who calculated the approximate location of the planet by more

Chagall’s ceiling unveiled

The Paris Opera unveils a stunning new ceiling painted as a gift by Belorussian-born artist Marc Chagall, who spent much of his life in France. The ceiling was typical of Chagall’s masterpieces—childlike in its apparent simplicity yet luminous with color and evocative of the more

Billy the Kid arrested for first time

On this day in 1875, Billy the Kid is arrested for the first time after stealing a basket of laundry. He later broke out of jail and roamed the American West, eventually earning a reputation as an outlaw and murderer and a rap sheet that allegedly included 21 murders. The exact more

Chicago 8 trial opens in Chicago

The trial for eight antiwar activists charged with the responsibility for the violent demonstrations at the August 1968 Democratic National Convention opens in Chicago. The defendants included David Dellinger of the National Mobilization Committee (NMC); Rennie Davis and Thomas more

Controversial call gives Cubs the pennant

On September 23, 1908, a game between the New York Giants and Chicago Cubs ends in 1-1 tie after a controversial call at second base. The officials ruled that Giants first baseman Fred Merkle was out because he failed to touch second base, a call that has been disputed ever more

FDR defends his dog

On this day in 1944, during a campaign dinner with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters union, President Franklin D. Roosevelt makes a reference to his small dog, Fala, who had recently been the subject of a Republican political attack. The offense prompted Roosevelt to more

Lincoln plans to send army to Chattanooga

President Abraham Lincoln meets with Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, several cabinet members, and military planners on September 23 to discuss the desperate situation at Chattanooga, Tennessee. Three days before, Union General William Rosecrans’s army had been dealt a serious more