So much for the calm before the storm. Gulf Coast residents were in a frenzy Thursday morning, as they braced for what could be the first hurricane to hit Florida since 2005. And residents in the neighboring states of Georgia and South Carolina are also taking precautions before the storm. These photos taken before Hurricane Hermine hits show how panicked and concerned residents are.
Those who live on Florida's Gulf have been scrambling to prepare for what could be a very powerful storm, after reports from the U.S. National Hurricane Center declared Hermine a Category 1 hurricane. It could make landfall in the state on Thursday night. The hurricane warnings extend for a large portion of the Sunshine State, all the way up to the inland areas, including Tallahassee, which has not seen a hurricane in 30 years.
On Thursday morning, Hermine sustained winds that were reported to be near 65 mph, though that was well before it strengthened to a Category 1 storm, the least powerful of the five classifications for hurricanes.The last time a hurricane struck Florida was in October 2005, when Hurricane Wilma, a Category 3 storm, ripped through the southwest Gulf Coast.
After Hermine passes through the panhandle, it could weaken back into a tropical storm. But that storm would still have powerful sustaining winds, which is why people in Florida and along the East Coast are stocking up on supplies and trying to secure their homes. Some social media posts show stores running out of household necessities, while others feature the emergency relief-response preparation from organizations such as the Salvation Army and the Red Cross.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott ordered that state government offices in 51 counties, which included most of central Florida, close at noon Thursday. Gov. Scott also declared a state of emergency for 42 counties and deployed 8,000 members of the Florida National Guard. Residents in some low-lying areas in the state were also asked to evacuate. Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal also declared a state of emergency for 56 counties through Saturday.
In the midst of all the worry and precaution, a few people took a moment to look at the storm through a humorous lens (although they are hopefully more adequately prepared than this photo suggests).