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New Ken native's Fla. home sits in path of storm

| Saturday, Aug. 14, 2004

Frank Girardi, a New Kensington native, was camped out with his family inland of their St. Petersburg Beach home.

The family had made it off the barrier island where they live to wait out Charley at the Catholic high school in St. Petersburg where Girardi coaches football.

Looking around Wednesday, Girardi said it was hard to believe a storm was coming.

"It was weird, it was so peaceful," he said. "The Gulf was as smooth as can be."

Thursday was a little more chaotic, he said.

"You can start to feel the wind coming now," Girardi said. "All you can hear around here are fire whistles and public address systems."

More than wind, Girardi said he was worried about the predicted 8- to 14-foot storm surge that will follow.

The highest point of Pinellas County, where Girardi lives, is about 15 feet above sea level, he said. It sits right in the path of the worst part of the storm.

"Pinellas County is just sitting there, saying, 'Hit me,'" Girardi said.

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