In Valdosta, not so calm before the storm

It's 9 p.m. Thursday and you can see the anxiety in the eyes of Manish Patel's eyes.

It's a quiet night for the clerk at his gas station on St. Augustine Road, a main drag just off I-75. A light rain is coming down, with just a little wind.

The breath of the big storm on the way.

He's worried about his home about 15 minutes away.

"Big trees in the back," he said.

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As Hurricane Hermine closes in, some people are coming by to top off their gas tanks. Flooding can make getting even basic necessities arduous, and lots of flooding just breaks down any sense of civilization.

The Exxon/Mobil station is surrounded by tall hotels, filled with travelers trying to outsmart the storm. They have different strategies.

Sam Sandlin stopped here on his way from Miami to Atlanta. At first he thought he would just get up Friday and go, expecting a bit of rough driving.

"I changed my mind," he said. "I'm going to get up at 3 am and go."

Brian Johnson, heading with his wife and two kids from Sarasota to north Georgia, had hoped to outrun the rain but found himself smack in it. And by 9:30 the intensity was picking up.

"We stopped and got a hotel room," he said. "We didn't want to risk it."

People have been watching the Weather Channel and the news. The schools have shut down.

Nance Storey and her coworkers at Denny's were talking about tornadoes and power outages.

Storey's flight on Friday to Atlanta was canceled. And the flight from there to California had been delayed.

John Paul Link, 40, is homeless and he was looking at the prospect of riding out the storm in the woods.

At about 4 p.m., with a light rain coming down, he started talking to a stranger as he was walking down the street.

"He noticed my backpack. And he asked if I had a place," he said. "I said, 'No, I'm homeless.' He gave me money for a hotel."

He added, "I'm very blessed. But I'm worried about my friend Kelly. She's in the woods and she had a stroke three months ago."

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