-- Throughout the night, Hurricane Frances was lumbering by and Adam Nemec's stomach was churning. The winds howled and trees groaned before snapping outside the four-bedroom ranch-style house he bought two years ago.
"You know the house is going to hold out," said Nemec, a builder who moved here from Connecticut, "but it was the trees cracking in the back that got to me."
That, and the fact that winds and snapping trees were coming only three weeks after a similarly harrowing ordeal wrought by Hurricane Charley. The one-two punch is all that Nemec and his family can endure.
"I can't take it," he said Monday. "Charley started the idea of us moving back to Connecticut. Frances finished it off. It's just too much."
Deltona, a city of about 70,000 residents southwest of Daytona Beach, is part of a string of central Florida communities that over the weekend endured hurricane-force winds and pounding rain for the second time in less than a month. It was the first time in more than half a century that such powerful hurricanes hit a state in such a short time.
Charley struck the Gulf Coast just above Fort Myers and moved on a northeasterly course. Frances came ashore from the Atlantic north of West Palm Beach and moved to the northwest. The two storms were as different as could be in many ways. Charley was small and fast-moving, and it changed course erratically. Frances was massive and slow, and it followed a steady path. But both left destruction -- of homes and buildings as well as psyches -- in their wake.
The paths of the two hurricanes overlapped over a swath of towns, stretching down from Deltona toward Orlando and the citrus groves outside the community of Lake Wales.
On Monday in Deltona, roads were lined with the remnants of battered trees as people pulled tarps over their tattered rooftops and boiled water on charcoal grills. In Orlando, huge chunks of concrete were clawed from a Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza hotel near the airport as well as a Walt Disney World hotel; thousands of evacuees were told by authorities to remain in overcrowded hotels because there was so much debris on the roads.
In Winter Haven, hundreds of residents packed a Home Depot to buy $600 generators. They were worried that they may face a triple whammy: Hurricane Ivan is now in the Atlantic, though forecasters said it is too early to determine whether it will reach the United States. "Oh, we don't want that," said Sally Kasso, who lives in a lakeside neighborhood north of Deltona. "We're praying to God."
Her garage roof had caved in. Rainwater poured from the attic. Kasso's husband and a friend hammered at the roof while she watched, fighting back tears.
"There is nothing like this," she said. "You could see roofing tiles fly one after the other from everyone's roof. It was a mess. We have insurance, but it has to go through a process. We've submitted our paperwork for the first one." Her voice trailed off. "But now, I don't know."
About 50 miles south in Winter Haven, Dennis Bloom was tired of being without power. He went without electricity for eight days after Charley and it went out again on Sunday morning. He had no idea when it would come back on, so he drove his family from home in nearby Lake Alfred to a Home Depot. He grabbed a shopping cart, made a beeline for the hardware section and loaded a bulky Briggs & Stratton generator into it. The machine could send 5,250 watts of electricity through his home.
"It's pretty important," Bloom said. "We had to throw everything out of the refrigerator after Hurricane Charley. We put everything back into it and it went out again this time. Now Ivan's coming. I can't afford to keep stocking it, so I guess this is an investment."
Back in Deltona, Bill Anderson, owner of Anderson Ace Hardware, opened his store even though there was no power. Customers swamped the store, snatching up nails, tarps and generators in the darkened aisles.
"We're going to stay open as long as we can," he said. "We've been here for 20 years. We've sold a couple of hundred gas cans, over 500 tarps, propane gas for cooking. And it's not even noon."
Buying anything was difficult for many, with power outages shutting down ATMs as well as cash registers and credit card machines. Anderson's wife, Mary Jane, had to write every receipt by hand.
"People need money," Bill Anderson said. "Their credit cards don't work. Sometimes, we do transactions with a handshake from people we've known for years."
Nemec and his family have decided they will not be among those longtime customers. The arrival of Frances and the fear of Ivan are too much.
He strapped daughter Holly, 2, in the back seat of his red Chevy pickup, seating her near the back window, where a sign read "Truck 4 Sale, $4,900."
His mother, Rose Nemec, leaned against the bed of the truck, which was parked in the driveway of her own three-bedroom house. "We're moving, too," she said. "We're moving up to Georgia. This put the icing on the cake. And another one's coming. We're out of here."
She looked over at what was once her dream house, with its screened-in pool and spa, and its fireplace. "It was a nice house," she said. "I was very pleased." At the moment, it didn't look so special, with the windows and doors covered by plywood.
"I'm moving to Conyers, Georgia," she said. "I'm going to have four acres, a miniature horse, and I'm going to have a donkey."