Hurricane Hermine deviates from the Yucatán Peninsula and slams the Florida coast
Wind and rain from Hurricane Hermine has battered Florida’s northern Gulf Coast, causing flooding and power outages.
Hermine made landfall early on Friday, becoming the first hurricane to hit the state in more than a decade.
Wind gusts reached 80mph (130km/h), the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.
In the town of Cedar Key, waters rose more than 9.5ft (2.9 metres), among the highest surges ever seen, according to the National Weather Service.
It passed through Florida and has now weakened to a tropical storm, making its way through Georgia before heading for the Carolinas.
Police in Taylor County, Florida, that has a population of more than 20,000, said the storm had inflicted “severe damage“.
In the state capital Tallahassee, where people were urged to move to higher ground to avoid flash floods, at least 70,000 homes were without power at one point, affecting 60% of people in the region.
“Multiple” roads were blocked by debris and fallen trees, traffic officials in the city said.
South of Tallahassee (Northern Florida), the town of Cedar Key saw a 6.6ft (two-metre) storm surge, raising high tide to almost 10ft.
Images from the town posted on social media showed significant flooding.
Governor Rick Scott had earlier declared a state of emergency for 51 counties across the state.
“It is a mess… we have high water in numerous places,” Virgil Sandlin, the police chief in Cedar Key, told the Weather Channel. “I was here in 1985 for Hurricane Elena and I don’t recall anything this bad.”
“I’ve never seen it this high, it’s pretty damn crazy,” said Courtney Chason, who lives in the coastal town of Carrabelle. “I hope it doesn’t get any higher; we need lots of prayers.”
The city of St Petersburg near Tampa was littered with downed palm fronds and tree branches, and low-lying streets were flooded.
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