Locals heading to Florida storm zone
MECHANICVILLE – The clean up caravan from KPM Restoration left its Mechanicville parking lot early Wednesday afternoon destined for Florida. Inside the large box truck were air scrubbers, dehumidifiers, and generators that were stuffed floor to ceiling.
Even as the crew’s 20-hour journey began, their final destination was still unknown.
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“It’s scary because it keeps shifting all around Central Florida,” said James Kennedy, KPM Restoration’s owner. “At one point it was going right through Tampa, but now it’s shifting back up toward Orlando and Jacksonville, so it’s the nature of the beast. No one knows where it’s going, so we’re going down there cold turkey.”
As Hurricane Ian was making landfall on the west coast of Florida late Wednesday afternoon, there was already heightened anxiety as far north as Jacksonville, where Troy native Vincent St. John has lived since the 1970s.
“This is nothing to joke about,” St. John proclaimed. “This is not snow. This is something that is going to happen, and it’s going to happen quick, and it’s going to be over quick, and it’s going to be devastating.”
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Dennis O’Connor grew up in Albany. He has lived in the Tampa area for about 18 years. He has also already lived through half a dozen hurricanes, and he’s mindful that many of his neighbors don’t always take hurricane warnings and evacuation orders as seriously as perhaps they should.
“The majority of people that I had contact with have taken it seriously,” he said. “Most people that I know of definitely took this one seriously because it was a bullseye for Tampa Bay area since day one, so people pretty much got that.”
O’Connor says he feels as if Tampa dodged a huge bullet.
“Big time. Very much so,” he said. “Now it’s time to help other people.”