FORT PIERCE, Fla. – About three-quarters of a million residents of Florida's east coast were urged to evacuate — again — as Hurricane Jeanne (search) churned westward Friday and threatened the state with its fourth pounding in six weeks.
The 100-mph storm could come ashore somewhere on the state's east coast by Sunday, targeting some of the same areas hit by previous storms and potentially turning piles of still-uncleared debris into deadly missiles.
"I'm not staying in this bunch of junk," 76-year-old Ed Oglesby said as he patched his torn roof in a Hutchinson Island mobile home park still littered with twisted metal and insulation from homes wrecked by Hurricane Frances.
A single state hasn't been hit by four hurricanes in a single season since Texas in 1886. Jeanne could continue a devastating run that has thrashed Florida's Panhandle (Ivan), southwest coast (Charley) and the state's midsection (Frances). Together, they have caused billions of dollars of damage and at least 70 deaths in the state.
"I know people are frustrated, they're tired of all this," Gov. Jeb Bush (search) said. "Trust me, their governor is as well."
Crews with bulldozers worked Friday to clear the mess of flattened homes, torn roofs and snapped trees left over when Frances tore through the heart of the state earlier this month. But many acknowledged it was a losing battle.
"With another hurricane, there's just too much there — we just don't have the manpower to get it all done," said Martin County spokesman Greg Sowell, who estimated nearly 80 percent of debris remained from Frances. He said some streets had debris piled 5 feet to 6 feet high.
Pam Custis shed tears Friday as she looked at a heap of smashed furniture and flooded carpets in front of her Fort Pierce condominium, which has been stripped to a skeleton of concrete floors and metal frames. The debris pile was as tall as she is.
"This is all we have left," she said of her condo's shell. "When this other hurricane comes, this pile is going to be knocking down the rest of it."
Eight counties along about 300 miles of coastline issued evacuation orders for residents on barrier islands, low-lying areas and mobile homes. That includes more than 750,000 people.
But with almost the entire state in Jeanne's danger zone and a hurricane warning stretching from Miami-Dade County in the south to St. Augustine in the north, some questioned whether there was any safe place to run.
"I ain't going anywhere unless they make me," retiree Larry Ruby said as he patched the roof of his Hutchinson Island mobile home. "I don't think you can get away from it."
Jeanne, already blamed for at least 1,100 flooding deaths in Haiti, looked earlier this week like it had turned north and safely out to sea, but it whipped around in a loop and headed straight for Florida.
At 8 p.m., Jeanne was centered about 355 miles east of the southeast Florida coast and moving west at 12 mph. Forecasters said it could strengthen as it reaches warmer waters closer to Florida's coast.
An eventual turn to the northwest was predicted, but it was unclear when that would happen, and some models show the storm strafing the East Coast all the way up to North Carolina by 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 many canals, rivers and lakes.
The timing of the storm raised concern for Jews observing Yom Kippur. The holiest day on the Jewish calendar begins at sundown Friday and ends sundown Saturday. During that period, observant Jews usually do not work or carry cash and many do not travel by car, all of which could hamper their hurricane preparations.
The National Hurricane Center advisory even asked people to consider that Jewish neighbors may not be listening to radios or watching television and may be unaware of the situation.
"I don't know if I will evacuate or not," physician Armand Braun said as he stocked up supplies at a grocery store in Satellite Beach. "Jewish law says you put Jewish requirements aside if there is any danger."
Taking nothing for granted, residents up and down Florida's Atlantic coast went about what has become an all-too-familiar ritual.
In Broward County, lines of cars spilled onto streets outside gas stations as people, remembering gas shortages from Frances, filled up their tanks. Kennedy Space Center, still trying to repair damage to a massive assembly building caused by Frances, was ordered closed Friday to all nonessential personnel.
Three other tropical systems were spinning Friday, but none of them threatened Florida.
Hurricane Ivan's weakened remnants rolled ashore into east Texas and threatened to dump up to 10 inches of rain in the Houston area. But except for some isolated downpours in southeast Texas, the average rainfall amounts were less than 2 inches as of midday Friday.