Gulf Coast hunker down for TS Hermine
CEDAR KEY, Florida (AP):
People on Florida's Gulf coast stocked up on supplies yesterday and some set out sandbags as they braced for Tropical Storm Hermine, which forecasters said could strike land as a hurricane.
A hurricane warning was in effect for Florida's Big Bend from the Suwannee River to Mexico Beach.
And on the East Coast, a tropical storm warning was issued for an area extending from Marineland, Florida, northward to the South Santee River in South Carolina.
Georgia's governor declared a state of emergency for 56 counties through Saturday in anticipation of high water and strong winds.
Hermine's maximum sustained winds on Thursday morning were near 65 mph (105 kph). The US National Hurricane Center said Hermine was likely to strengthen into a Category 1 hurricane when it lands in Florida this morning.
As of 11 a.m. EDT Thursday, Hermine was centred about 220 miles (354 kilometres) west of Tampa, Florida, and was moving north-northeast near 14 mph (23 kph).
Residents in some low-lying communities in Florida were asked to evacuate as the storm approached. The Tallahassee Democrat reported that emergency-management officials in Franklin County have issued a mandatory evacuation notice for people living on St George Island, Dog Island, Alligator Point and Bald Point. Residents in other low-lying, flood-prone areas were also asked to evacuate.
GOV'T OFFICES CLOSED
Florida Governor Rick Scott ordered state government offices in 51 counties to close at noon yesterday.
The last hurricane to strike Florida was Hurricane Wilma, which entered the state from along south-west Gulf coast as a major Category 3 storm on October 24, 2005.
Residents were out in force yesterday preparing for the storm, and stores were already running low on bottled water and flashlights. City crews were struggling to keep up with demand for sand with sandbags.