CBSN

Jeanne Jabs Florida

Satellite image of Hurricane Jeanne, at 3:15 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 25, by NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
NOAA
Hurricane Jeanne sent wind and huge waves crashing ashore as it slammed into storm-weary Florida early Sunday, forcing thousands into shelters and tearing part of the roof from a hospital. The storm made landfall just weeks after Frances ravaged the same stretch of coast, and hurled debris only recently cleared from earlier hurricanes.

It was the state's fourth hurricane of the season an ordeal no state has faced since Texas in 1886.

About 2 million people, from near the state's southern tip to the Georgia border, were urged to evacuate as Jeanne's sustained wind strengthened to 120 mph. The Category 3 storm came ashore on the state's central Atlantic coast and was expected to turn to the north.

``Yesterday I was hoping we wouldn't lose power again,'' said Lynn Tarrington of Lake Worth, who was leaving her home near the water early Saturday. ``Now I'm hoping I have a house left when I come back.''

The storm made landfall near the southern tip of Hutchinson Island about 5 miles southeast of Stuart, where palm fronds whipped amid waves of horizontal rain. Debris flew and crashed through deserted streets, making a steady roar.

A hospital lost part of its roof, allowing water to leak into the building, said Tom McNicholas, an emergency management spokesman in Martin County. Dozens of patients at Martin Memorial Hospital North in Stuart were moved to other floors, but no injuries were reported.

Waves of 24 feet were reported ahead of Jeanne and were moving toward the coast, where six-foot storm surges were expected. Powerful swells knocked pieces of mobile homes out to sea on the central coast.

CBS' Brian Andrews reports sheriff's deputies were blocking access onto barrier islands and imposing curfew in coastal communities until after Jeanne passes. Hurricane warnings stretch almost the entire length of Florida's east coast. Weary residents are just tired of the drill -- causing

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Gov. Jeb Bush put Florida on a state of emergency .

As it made its way toward Florida, Jeanne tore across the Bahamas, leaving some neighborhoods submerged under 5 feet of water. No deaths or serious injuries were reported there, but the storm was earlier blamed for more than 1,500 deaths in floods in Haiti.

The Category 3 storm's outer bands started lashing Florida Saturday morning with steadily increasing rain and wind. It will be the state's fourth hurricane in six weeks — a scenario unmatched in more than a century.

Jeanne was expected to hit near where Hurricane Frances came ashore three weeks ago, leaving behind piles of debris that officials feared would turn into deadly, home-destroying missiles in Jeanne's wind.

"I really can't believe it's happening all over again — and right in the same place," said Charity Brown, who moved to West Palm Beach from Chicago three months ago with her children, ages 5 and 3. They hid in a closet as Frances tore the roof off their apartment. That hole is now covered by a tarp, so the family took shelter Saturday at an elementary school that was filling with evacuees.

"I'm going to get out of (Florida). It's scary. It's crazy."

Not since Texas in 1886 has one state has been struck by four hurricanes in a season. Jeanne follows Charley, which struck Aug. 13 and devastated southwest Florida; Frances, which struck Labor Day weekend; and Ivan, which blasted the western Panhandle when it made landfall in nearby Alabama on Sept. 16. The storms caused billions of dollars in combined damage and killed at least 70 people in Florida alone.

Gov. Jeb Bush warned Floridians not to let storm fatigue get the best of them, "even though we're weary and even though this is a painful process."

"They must treat this hurricane as if it's the only hurricane they've ever been through," said Max Mayfield, director of the National Hurricane Center in Miami. "This has the potential to cause loss of life."

Officials ran out of time to remove piles of debris left over from Frances — some taller than adults — that still sit in neighborhoods. Some people took to burning the downed trees, housing material and other debris that could become airborne, banging into homes and endangering anyone who ventures outside. If debris penetrates a home's window or wall, that would allow Jeanne's winds to get inside and push off the roof.

At a mobile home park on the Intracoastal Waterway, George MacArthur's home was one of the few that remained intact amid mounds of twisted metal, smashed furniture, broken tiles and garbage bins filled with trash. He feared his home was about to be smashed by all the debris Jeanne flings about.

"All the ones in the front got it last time. Now it's my turn," MacArthur said.

The storm will make the already formidable job of keeping the lights on in Florida even more difficult — especially if Jeanne follows in Frances' path, giving its wind piles of ammunition to topple power lines.

Electric company officials feared Hurricane Jeanne could leave millions of customers without power, some for three weeks or more. An estimated 6 million people were affected by outages caused by Hurricane Frances.

About 12,000 customers already were without power in South Florida on Saturday. In the Panhandle, more than 81,000 homes and business remained without electricity because of Hurricane Ivan.

Florida Power and Light, the state's largest power company, had recruited 2,500 workers from around the country to help with the impending restoration effort, and was trying to recruit more, company president Armando Olivera said.

Gas stations and businesses were boarded up and deserted Saturday afternoon, and law enforcement took to the radio airwaves, saying that anyone who was outside their homes after the 6 p.m. curfew would end up in jail.

It was unknown how many of the 2 million people urged to evacuate actually did, but Judy and Terry Smith, their daughter and son-in-law were among them.

They were driving from their home on Merritt Island inland to a hotel in Orlando, bringing their one dog and five cats with them. Their house was spared by Frances, but they weren't taking any chances with Jeanne.

"What can you do?" Judy Smith asked. "You've got your house insurance, and everything in it can be replaced. Everything I care about is right here," she said, motioning to her family, her eyes filling with tears.

Others were trying to ride out the storm. Behind a fire station in Titusville, a pile of sand, bags and shovels were open to all. Alfred Grace was filling sandbags to put on his roof to hold down the tarps covering damage from the last hurricane.

In Fort Pierce – already batter by Hurricane Frances earlier this month -- some residents are planning to ride out Jeanne, reports CBS News Correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi.

"We're going to face her. So here we are. So you are ready for the showdown? We're ready for the showdown,'' homeowner Paula Senn told CBS News.

Johnny Curry, 50, a Kennedy Space Center engineer, wanted sandbags to keep water away from the back of his house. Water almost got into his patio door during Frances.

"I can't do anything about this until I retire," said Curry, who ultimately plans to move to Georgia. "This is getting a little old."

Saturday evening, Jeanne was centered about 105 miles east-southeast of Vero Beach and was moving west and slightly north at 14 mph, slightly faster than Friday.

Jeanne was expected to turn north over central Florida and stay inland over Georgia and the Carolinas through Tuesday. Rainfall totals of 5 to 10 inches were expected in the storm's path, and flooding could be a major concern because previous hurricanes have already saturated the ground and filled canals, rivers and lakes.