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Hurricane Hermine Strikes Florida

  • VOA News

A news reporter standing near a sea wall in Cedar Key, Fla., is covered by an unexpected wave as Hurricane Hermine nears the Florida coast, Sept. 1, 2016.

A news reporter standing near a sea wall in Cedar Key, Fla., is covered by an unexpected wave as Hurricane Hermine nears the Florida coast, Sept. 1, 2016.

Hurricane Hermine made landfall early Friday along Florida’s Gulf Coast, killing one person, flooding low-lying areas and knocking out power.

The hurricane diminished to a tropical storm later in the day as it moved up the southeastern U.S. coast into Georgia and the Carolinas, but it was still causing weather alerts and precautionary closures along much of the Atlantic Coast.

The first hurricane to strike Florida in more than a decade, Hermine came ashore early Friday just south of the state capital, Tallahassee.

Officials said a homeless man was hit by a tree and killed near Gainesville, Florida.

The state's governor, Rick Scott, said power failures caused by the storm had affected an estimated 325,000 people across Florida, and he declared a state of emergency across most of the state.

The storm damaged homes and roads and raised concerns about a possible increase in Zika virus infections, since the mosquitos that spread the disease thrive in pools of standing water, which were numerous because of the hurricane rain — almost 17 inches inches (43 centimeters) in the cities of Tampa and St. Petersburg. Scott urged residents to dump standing water wherever they could.

Tallahassee's mayor, Andrew Gillum, said, "The bad news is that our electric utility system took a pretty substantial hit. In fact, in the city's history, this may have been the most significant hit to our electric utility system, with over 80 percent of our system having been affected by last night's storm."

Georgia and North Carolina also declared states of emergency as the storm headed north, and President Barack Obama asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency to keep him updated on the situation.

Storm warnings about Hermine were posted as far north as Delaware. New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island were under storm watches.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said city beaches would be closed for swimming on Sunday, part of the Labor Day holiday weekend, because of potentially dangerous rip tides.

"The number one thing I want to say to New Yorkers is: The rip tides are extremely dangerous. This is my number one message," he said. "No one should assume that they can handle these kinds of rip tides. So if you go in the water, you are putting your life in danger. It's as simple as that."

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