Florida, Georgia carefully eye Frances - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Florida, Georgia carefully eye Frances

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September 1, 2004

Daytona, FL -- Right now hurricane Frances is a Category IV hurricane with winds reaching 140 miles per hour. Hurricane warnings are in effect for parts of the Bahamas and for the Turks and Caicos Islands tonight.

About 300,000 people in coastal areas of Palm Beach county have been told to evacuate starting Thursday afternoon. Florida Governor Jeb Bush is urging people start protecting their homes and gassing up their cars and a lot of people aren't wasting any time.

At a Home Depot in Daytona, dozens of people lined up to buy plywood; some buying by the dozens. So far, stores have been able to keep up with the demand. Residents are boarding up their homes and stocking up on supplies as they wait to see what Frances is going to do.

Frances could reach Florida Friday. If she hits near south Carolina, thousands of new Marines may end up in Albany. The Marine Corps Logistics Base in Albany may have to house eight-thousand recruits and 700 personnel from Parris Island, near Beaufort, South Carolina.

“We do have a memorandum and understanding with Parris Island that basically says that the particular recruits and personnel will evacuate here to Marine Corps Base Albany for safety,” said MCLB Public Affairs Director Capt. Steve Butler.

MCLB will open up a Destructive Weather Operations Center inside its headquarters building, but if the hurricane heads to Albany, the plans will change.

The Parris Island recruits are graduating tomorrow, a day earlier than scheduled. No decision has been made to evacuate.

The Albany Convention & Visitors Bureau reports that Albany hotel rooms are full. Between the ASU football game this weekend, family reunions and evacuation from Florida because of the impending threat of a hurricane, they are working on referrals to Americus.

Bureau Vice President Sara S. Underdown tells us they understand that the state is full to Macon, and referrals are now being made to Atlanta.

Plantation Trace Regional Tourism Rep. Jeff Stubbs repoorts that the welcome center in Valdosta is overflowing with people looking for rooms, and Thomasville is busy with people coming up from Tallahassee.

posted at 4:17PM by dave.miller@walb.com