Early Friday Hurricane Hermine became the first such storm to make landfall in Florida in more than a decade. With damage across North Florida, Big Bend residents will be putting in lots of recover work during the Labor Day weekend.
Update 2:04 p.m.: City of Tallahassee officials are urging patience as they work to restore power. 60,000 city utility users are without electricity, approximately 80 percent of the city. More than 35,000 Talquin Electric Customers are dark. Talquin says it could take up to two weeks to restore utility services in some areas.
Original Story: Hurricane Hermine made landfall overnight near St. Marks, knocking out power across the Big Bend, South Georgia and down into the coast. At 4 a.m. the City of Tallahassee reported more than 70,000 residents were without power. More than 150,000 Big Bend and South Georgia residents experienced power outtages, and many are still dark. Storm surge has been the primary concern in coastal areas, and in Tallahassee—the closest large city to the center of the storm—downed trees.
“We’ve not experienced this sort of storm in a long time, and so, we want to be cautious about that. If you don’t have to be out, don’t be out," said Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum.
Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in 51 counties ahead of the storm.
As heavy wind and rain barreled into North Florida, evacuation notices for Wakulla and Franklin were issued. But some residents chose to stay and wait out of the storm. Apalachicola’s historic Gibson Inn has withstood hurricanes for more than a century and as night drew closer some coastal residents and visitors hunkered down there.
“People are up in their rooms, we have some in the bar. Everybody is nice and calm and just having a good time," said the inn's General Manager, Sharon Soderholm.
The worst of the storm has passed, and local utility crews are working to restore power. That does not mean it’s safe to start driving around.
“Please stay in your home. We’ve got sightseers everywhere. You’re putting yourself in danger and you’re also putting first responders in danger," said Franklin County Emergency Management Director Pameka Brownell.