P. C. sees Dennis looming - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

P. C. sees Dennis looming

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July 9, 2005

Panama City Beach, Fl-- Panama City is still waiting for the worst from Hurricane Dennis. Most of the day, Panama City Beach has been about as quiet as you'll ever see it.

Inside the waffle Shoppe, cooks prepare the last few meals of the day. The owner boards up the windows and prepares to shut down his business. Unfortunately, it’s an inconvenience Massoud Rafyan is used to. "Last few years have been really bad," he says.
Last year, Hurricane Ivan shattered one of these windows and knocked out power to the restaurant for a week. "Yes Ivan. It was Charley or Ivan," said Rafyan. "They all run together. Oh, it was awful."

But not as awful as Hurricane Opal ten years ago. "I had to close for about two weeks,” Massoud said.

Cops working the Panama City Beach remember Opal too. It's the only storm that forced all the cops here off the streets.

Chief Robert Harding battens down this police sub-station. He says he hopes Dennis won't do the same. "If the weather reaches a point where we can no longer be on the road, then we will not be able to provide services and people will pretty much be on their own."

People still at the beach stay at their own risk. but most heeded a mandatory evacuation order. "We're not going door to door telling people to leave. We certainly recommend if they don't feel safe, they need to go ahead and move out," Harding said.

Back at the Waffle Shoppe, that’s just what the Hodge family is doing. Kelly Hodge said, "The hotel evacuated us this morning. What can you do?"

They're heading home to Columbus, their vacation cut short by Dennis. "We still had fun."

Just not for very long, but they won't be away for long. They plan to come back next week.

And hopefully they'll be able to get back here and enjoy Panama City. Right now, it’s just wait and see. Wait for Dennis to arrive. And see what kind of damage he does.

Yesterday was busier as people left early. The streets are nearly empty tonight.

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