TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Hermine tore across northern Florida on Friday as the first hurricane to hit the state in more than a decade, killing one person, raising a storm surge that destroyed beachside buildings and toppling trees into homes.
As the system pushed into Georgia, it knocked down power lines in both states. Hundreds of thousands of people were without electricity.
Hermine was expected to move into the Carolinas and roll up the East Coast, bringing the potential for drenching rain and devastating flooding through the Labor Day weekend.
By Friday afternoon, it had weakened to a tropical storm with maximum sustained winds of 50 mph. The National Hurricane Center issued tropical storm watches and warnings as far north as the Connecticut-Rhode Island border.
The storm was located 55 miles north-northeast of Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, Friday afternoon.
"Anyone along the U.S. East Coast needs to be paying close attention this weekend," center spokesman Dennis Feltgen said.
Although damage was still being assessed, Gov. Rick Scott said he knew of no other "major issues" besides the power outages and damaged roads. It was unclear whether he had received word of damage to remote and sparsely populated beach areas just south of the Big Bend, where the peninsula meets the Panhandle.
A homeless man in Marion County, south of Gainesville, was killed when he was hit by a tree, Scott said at a news conference.
At Dekle Beach, a storm surge damaged numerous homes and destroyed storage buildings and a 100-yard fishing pier. The area is about 60 miles southeast of St. Marks, where Hermine made landfall at 1:30 a.m.
Hermine came ashore early Friday as a Category 1 storm. It was the first hurricane to hit Florida since Hurricane Wilma struck South Florida in 2005.
The storm left a swath of destruction in its path, toppling trees and knocking out electricity to about 90,000 customers in the Tallahassee area.
Several people took to Twitter to document the damage on the campus of Florida State University.
In addition to downed trees, Hermine also left its mark on FSU's baseball and football stadiums, although the damage was minimal.
Many Tallahassee businesses remained closed Friday as owners assessed the damage left by Hermine.
A white fence surrounding a Tallahassee playground was missing a majority of its panels, and a large tree fell on top of a Whataburger restaurant.