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Sunday, September 05, 2004

The New York Times > AP > National > Vast Hurricane Batters Florida, but Weakens

The New York Times > AP > National > Vast Hurricane Batters Florida, but Weakens: "September 5, 2004
Vast Hurricane Batters Florida, but Weakens
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Filed at 12:29 p.m. ET
STUART, Fla. (AP) -- Hurricane Frances pounded Florida with high wind and heavy rain Sunday after it smashed across the state's east coast, knocking out power to 4 million people, shredding roofs and uprooting trees.
Some evacuees had to flee a second time when a school's roof was partially blown off. Some 86,000 people remained in shelters as Gov. Jeb Bush warned them against venturing out to see the damage until officials say it's OK.
The storm weakened Sunday morning, crawling westward with maximum sustained wind near 90 mph, making it a Category 1 hurricane, but forecasters warned that its path would take the center of the hurricane over the warm water of the northeastern Gulf of Mexico. They said it was possible Frances would regain intensity by Monday evening.
``This is affecting the entire peninsula today, either tropical storm-force or hurricane-force winds. And then tomorrow it will be up in the panhandle, and then moving up into Georgia and Alabama after that,'' National Hurricane Center director Max Mayfield said Sunday on CBS' ``Face the Nation.''
The eye of the storm blew ashore at Sewall's Point, just east of Stuart, around 1 a.m., and by 11 a.m. it was centered about 80 miles southeast of Tampa. Frances was expected to remain over the state for most of the day, dumping 8 to 12 inches of rain, with up to 20 inches in some areas.
``I wish somebody'd get out there and push it -- get it over with,'' said 72-year-old Nedra Smith, who waited out th"

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