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Hurricane Hermine teased and taunted its way to
See the latest photos from Hurricane Hermine's path
It ended an unprecedented era of hurricane-free years for
Hermine, which intensified quickly Thursday from a muscle-bound tropical storm to a weak hurricane, triggered mandatory evacuations of coastal areas in five counties as officials feared a storm surge of up to 9 feet.
"This hurricane is life-threatening," said Scott, who declared a state of emergency in 51
"The water there is so shallow, it builds up and builds up and builds up and can't escape," said
Some reflected on the last time the region was socked by a storm. It was Hurricane Dennis in 2005, which caused widespread destruction when high winds propelled gulf water miles inland, across marshy lowlands and into homes and stores.
"What are you going to do? You've just got to ride it out and hope it goes a little further east of here," said
"The previous owner of this place got wiped out by that storm in 2005. No insurance. That's how we wound up buying it," Ulrich said.
He eyed the rising water at a boat ramp just in back of his store. Ulrich said he was certain he'd be flooded by the time he returns to work today.
"I'll put some sand bags at the front door. But around here, we've all seen this before," he added.
Hermine was first identified as a tropical wave on
With that as fuel, Hermine spun up quickly. Hurricane watches or warnings stretched from north of
In the middle of the cone of uncertainty was
Hermine followed a path closer to 1985's Hurricane Kate, which made landfall near
"A lot of people are asking what is going to happen," said
Next door, the town's only hardware store had already closed and sandbagged its front door.
"You'd think they could be open and selling stuff today," Gempel said. "But it's an old-time family business here. They know when it's time to get out of the way of a storm."
Gempel said there was little anyone could do but prepare, and clean up when Hermine moved on.
"Anyone who chooses to live here knows the score," Gempel said. "I can go kayaking right down the street some days. Other days, you've got a hurricane to deal with."
Elsner said the biggest concern in
"One of the studies we've done shows that these storms do come in bunches," Elsner said. "They are like bananas, and it's unusual, very unusual, that we haven't gotten hit since Wilma."
In fact, as of Thursday, it was 3,965 days since Hurricane Wilma made landfall.
Leatherman said the strongest part of the storm -- the right front quadrant -- was going to hit in an area where it's mostly marshland on the coast and sparsely populated.
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