Although an inland capital, Tallahassee was suffering the worst of Hurricane Hermine’s aftermath Friday, with downed trees scattered across the city and power out to 60 percent of residents and businesses.
Even Rick Scott’s Governor’s Mansion took a hit from Hermine – with a cracked oak tree on the grounds blocking a road just in back of the residence.
The sound of chainsaws buzzed through the city, and traffic was slowed with scores of traffic lights out of commission. With few city work or utility crews in sight, many residents feared it might be days before power is restored.
“Last night, we had a lot of wind and rain, but really nothing dramatic,” said Tarik Noriega, whose Myers Park neighborhood was littered with downed trees.
“We lost power about 12:45 a.m.,” he added. “Now it’s hard to tell when it’ll come back.
Because the storm edged eastward before making landfall early Friday, it largely spared Apalachicola, which spent a long day and night as Hermine’s likely target.
Along U.S. 98, the ribbon of highway that hugs the Gulf of Mexico, there was evidence of the storm surge that accompanied the hurricane-force winds. While seaweed and even wood from a few shattered boat docks were pushed to the road’s edge, waterfront homes didn’t seem to suffer severe structural damage.
“We did pretty well,” said Bonnie Goodwin, cleaning up yard debris in the St. James community, just across the highway from the gulf. “We’re pretty exposed here to the wind and water. But it was a good night not to have a waterfront home.”
Not far away, the waterside Lanark Market also endured no flooding. Owner Carson Ulrich had said Thursday that he fully expected the storm to flood his convenience store. But a day later, store employee Deborah Scanlan said Hermine’s shift east made the difference.
“We watched the water come up,” she said, pointing at a nearby boat ramp. “But it never came up into the store. We were lucky.”
At Alligator Point, a Franklin County community of vacation homes for many Tallahasseeans, the road washed out with storm surge. Residents were forced to walk or bicycle in to the point of land to check on the status of their homes.
“The house is OK,” said Hugh Hartsfield, a computer systems engineer who rode out the storm at his home. “But I could tell with that surge the road was going to go. It did. It’ll be a while before we can get our cars back in here.”
Dean Newman, a retiree, left Alligator Point for Tallahassee when he knew the storm was coming.
“I’ve been here before and stuck out here for four days without power,” Newman said. “But I tell you, it was bad in Tallahassee. Maybe worse than here.”