MIAMI — Brenda Smith gathered her family together in her Navarre Beach home and prayed as the power went out and Hurricane Dennis’ violent winds tore apart her backyard fence.
Smith decided to ride out the Category 3 storm with her fiance, her daughter and four young grandchildren visiting from North Carolina. She was afraid of being stuck on a highway when it made landfall, and she did not know where else to go.
“I don’t care where you run to, you can’t run from God,” Smith said as the hurricane’s winds howled outside her home.
Smith was not alone in braving the storm at home as Dennis’ eye came ashore between Pensacola Beach and Navarre Beach on Sunday. The storm packed 120 mph winds, dropped heavy rain and battered the shore with large waves.
After the hurricane, Smith inspected her neighborhood to find trees toppled, homes had lost shingles and a few fences were down, but she heard of no injuries or local deaths.
And although Dennis was not as bad as she anticipated, her family decided to leave if the next hurricane is a Category 3 or above.
In Pensacola, 20-year-old college student Nikki Porter also waited out the storm at home, with seven other family members, including her mother and grandmother.
“I am afraid,” said Porter, who said many people in the neighborhood also stayed.
In Fort Walton Beach, Angel Garcia, his wife and 18-year-old son decided to stay home as well.
Garcia, from Honduras, said he did not want to spend the money on a hotel. Last year, the Garcias fled to Atlanta before Hurricane Ivan and spent $800 for three nights. This time, he said, they did nothing to prepare, despite living in an apartment about 10 blocks from the beach. They had been without electricity for several hours on Sunday before the storm hit.
Garcia, a maintenance worker at Eglin Air Force base, said it rained heavily.
“Of course you get scared, because it’s terrible,” Garcia said.
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