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Stephen Nolan finds himself in eye of the storm as Hermine batters Florida and Georgia

Stephen Nolan is used to creating a storm himself, but this time he has found himself trying to dodge a hurricane.

Hurricane Hermine made landfall in Florida in the early hours of Friday morning bringing heavy rain, high winds and thousands of power outages.

In response a state of emergency has been called with some residents urged to prepare for evacuation.

The Category 1 storm hit just east of St Marks with winds of around 80mph, according to the US National Hurricane Centre, but later weakened to a tropical storm as it moved inland.

It is the first hurricane to hit the state in 11 years.

And who should find himself close to one of America's biggest weather stories, only our own Stephen Nolan.

The BBC broadcaster is holidaying in Miami, south of where the Hurricane hit, although it looks like he may have avoided the worst.

Discussing the presenter's stay in Florida on Friday morning's Nolan show, Linda McAuley said: "To think of all the worries he had before he went out with the Zika virus, the mosquitoes and the heat and now it's going to be the rain.

"But I am sure he is inside looking after himself."

<<< If you have been caught up in the storm contact us here >>>

Hermine weakened as it moved into southern Georgia, the Hurricane Centre said, as it moved north-north-east at nearly 14mph.

In Florida's Pasco County, north of Tampa, authorities said flooding forced 18 people from their homes in Green Key and Hudson Beach. Pasco County Fire Rescue and sheriff's deputies used high-water vehicles to rescue people from rising water.

In Wakulla County, south of Tallahassee, a couple suffered minor injuries during the storm when they drove into a tree that had fallen in the road, county administrator Dustin Hinkel said. He said a storm surge of 8ft to 10ft damaged docks and flooded coastal roads.

As Hermine moved north, Georgia Power estimated about 19,000 homes and businesses were without power state-wide. Many of those were in Valdosta and surrounding Lowndes County, about 15 miles north of the Georgia-Florida border.

Lowndes County spokeswoman Paige Dukes said crews were dealing with fallen trees and snapped power lines, but no injuries had been reported. Winds exceeding 55mph had been recorded in the county, with 4in to 5in of rain, she said.

The last hurricane to strike Florida was Wilma, a powerful Category 3 storm that arrived on October 24 2005. It swept across the Everglades and struck heavily populated south Florida, causing five deaths in the state and an estimated 23 billion dollars in damage.

Residents on some islands and other low-lying, flood-prone areas in Florida had been urged to clear out on Thursday. Flooding was expected across a wide area of the marshy coastline of the Big Bend - the mostly rural and lightly populated corner where the Florida peninsula meets the Panhandle.

Florida governor Rick Scott warned of the danger of strong storm surges, high winds, downed trees and power outages, and urged people to move to inland shelters if necessary and make sure they have enough food, water and medicine.

"You can rebuild a home, you can rebuild property, you cannot rebuild a life," he said at a news conference, adding: "We are going to see a lot of flooding."

Mr Scott, who declared an emergency in 51 counties, said 6,000 National Guardsmen were poised to mobilise for the storm's aftermath. The governors of Georgia and North Carolina also declared states of emergency.

After pushing through Georgia, Hermine is expected to move into the Carolinas and up the East Coast with the potential for heavy rain and deadly flooding.

If you have been caught up in the storm contact us at digital.editorial@belfasttelegraph.co.uk.

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