Hurricane Nears Florida Coast, Residents Evacuate

8-13-04 - TAMPA, Fla. (AP) Hurricane Charley is spinning ever closer to Florida, with top sustained winds of 110 miles per hour. The entire west coast of the state is under a hurricane warning. MacDill Air Force Base, the nerve center of the war in Iraq, is in the path of the storm.

Florida officials are now urging about two million people to evacuate as Hurricane Charley steams toward land.

A spokeswoman at the state emergency management center says the evacuation order extends from the Florida Keys all the way up the west coast. She says many people will likely stay in their homes, but up to a million and a half will likely seek shelter from the storm.

Governor Jeb Bush says it's "a scary, scary thing." The emergency management chief in Pinellas County is just as blunt. He says people who don't heed the evacuation orders and find themselves trapped during the storm will be on their own. He says rescuers won't do what he calls "suicide missions."

The category three storm is expected to hit Tampa Bay later on Friday.