Locals head for Florida storm zone

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MECHANICVILLE — The KPM Restoration cleanup trailer left its Mechanicville parking lot early Wednesday afternoon bound for Florida. Inside the big van truck were air cleaners, dehumidifiers and generators filled from floor to ceiling.

Even at the start of the crew’s 20-hour journey, their final destination was still unknown.

“It’s scary because it keeps changing all over central Florida,” said James Kennedy, owner of KPM Restoration. “At one point it was going through Tampa, but now it’s going up towards Orlando and Jacksonville, so that’s the nature of the beast. Nobody knows where he’s going, so we’re going cold turkey there.

As Hurricane Ian made landfall on Florida’s west coast late Wednesday afternoon, there was already heightened anxiety as far north as Jacksonville, where Troy native Vincent St. John, lived since the 1970s.

“It’s no joke,” St. John proclaimed. “It’s not snow. It’s something that’s going to happen, and it’s going to happen quickly, and it’s going to end quickly, and it’s going to be devastating.

Dennis O’Connor grew up in Albany. He has lived in the Tampa area for about 18 years. He’s also been through half a dozen hurricanes, and he’s aware that many of his neighbors don’t always take hurricane warnings and evacuation orders as seriously as perhaps they should.

“The majority of people I had contact with took it seriously,” he said. “Most people I know definitely took this one seriously because it was a target for the Tampa Bay area from day one, so people pretty much got it.”

O’Connor says he feels like Tampa dodged a huge bullet.

“Highlight. Absolutely,” he said. “Now it’s time to help others.”

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