Fay Makes Landfall in Southwest Florida

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Tropical Storm Fay came ashore in southwest Florida early this morning and it could bring up to 10 inches of rain and heavy flooding.

The storm crossed land at Cape Ramono at about 5 a.m. local time, bringing with it, rain and plenty of wind.

It is the same place where nearly three years ago Hurricane Wilma - a Category 3 storm - made landfall.

"It's important to take the necessary precautions and be prepared and use common sense," an area official said.

Forecasters predict the storm will move across the Florida panhandle, dumping as much as 10-inches of rain in the Sunshine State.

And with all that water with nowhere to go, it has the potential for even more damage.

"Because of the flatness of the coast you can get a pretty good storm surge out of that type of situation," AccuWeather Meteorologist Joe Bastardi said.

Even for those who moved farther inland, the threat of flooding has them worried.

"We're kinda concerned that it might come up on the beach higher than we will be safe," said a local from Ft. Myers Beach.

Fay delivered her first punch Monday afternoon crossing the Florida Keys.

"It is heading toward us and it doesn't look good," a resident said.

Schools closed in advance of the storm along with government offices and several businesses.

"Everything that can blow away, we're going to put away, close up all our outdoor computers, cause we're an outdoor restaurant and just hunker down for the storm," another resident said.

An estimated 25,000 people evacuated the area after Gov. Charlie Crist declared a state of emergency.

But not everyone took the precautions as seriously.

A camera crew caught a kite surfer being swept up by a wind gust and thrown across a busy highway before landing in the hospital in critical condition.

Officials said they were worried that some people might not heed the warning call because there have been no major hurricanes in the past two years.

Still, for others who lived through them, the previous storms serve as a powerful reminder.

"I stayed on the island for Charlie. I'm not doing that again," a cautious resident said.

Fay's impact isn't just limited to the homeland. The storm is being blamed for at least 14 deaths as it moved across the Caribbean.

The hurricane season officially ends November 30 and forecasters now say 2008 will be an above average year for storms.

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