Calm before storm: Jersey Shore prepares for worst

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With Hurricane Hermine expected to hammer Florida overnight, residents on the Jersey Shore are eyeing the Category 1 storm. (WPVI)

Residents at the Jersey Shore are eyeing Tropical Storm Hermine that hit Florida overnight as a hurricane, but weakened shortly after landfall.

"We're getting calls, several, several calls an hour. People just asking if they should come down. A lot of them are very alarmed," said Betsy Murphy, Impala Inn.

Cancellations are on the minds of many beachgoers, including those bound for the Impala Inn, which is booked solid for the last unofficial weekend of summer.

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An empty beach could be the calm before the storm as Hurricane Hermine inches closer to the Jersey Shore.

"Seems like an unpredictable storm to us. It could be bad, could be nothing," said Murphy.

But it's that unpredictability that could hurt businesses' bottom line on a big travel weekend.

Manco & Manco Pizza on the boardwalk are already bracing for fewer foot traffic.

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The ocean was calm Thursday, but with Tropical Storm Hermine heading this way, guards are expecting high winds, rough waves and more powerful riptides.

"It's a concern of ours. When there's a storm, less people head to the shore, so it does effect sales," said Dan Polidoro, Manco & Manco Pizza.

"We depend on the holiday weekends. Tourism is the No. 1 driver of our economy here, so anytime you impact that with a weather event, you can do a lot of damage to our local economy," said Vicki Clark, Cape May County Chamber of Commerce.

Nancy Sullivan has wooden boards at the ready. But she admits, the storm won't drive her family from the beach.

"It doesn't look like it's that bad from the forecast, so I'm not too worried," said Sullivan of Haddonfield, New Jersey.

For many businesses, they say if they have to, they'll be boarding up and putting sandbags up the day of so likely Saturday if and/or when the storm makes landfall.
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