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Where is Keaton Beach? 5 things to know as Hurricane Idalia makes landfall

Idalia, a formidable Category 3 hurricane, made landfall at 7:45 a.m. on Wednesday near Keaton Beach, Florida, as reported by the National Hurricane Center. The region is anticipating a storm surge ranging from 12 to 16 feet, as the tropical cyclone propels water onto the shoreline.

Keaton Beach holds historical significance. Named after two brothers, Abb and Sam Keaton, who settled in the area, the beach’s nomenclature reflects their presence. Originally engaged in cotton farming, they transitioned to mullet fishing, which proved more lucrative. Captain W. Alston “Cap’n” Brown, who operated the Blue Springs Creek turpentine works, collaborated with the Keaton brothers in the early 1920s and bestowed the beach’s name upon it. Over time, the community developed from a few structures to include houses, a pavilion, a sawmill, a church, and a commissary. It gradually transformed into a weekend retreat and eventually became an established community.

Regarding the population of Keaton Beach, it is not independently delineated in the U.S. Census. However, Taylor County, encompassing Keaton Beach, had a total population of 21,815 in 2021. The area serves as Taylor County’s primary beach location, featuring a local pier, the main boat ramp, and Hodges Park, a children’s play area. Renowned for its fishing and scallop harvesting opportunities, the beach is known for its diverse marine life, including stingrays, sea urchins, hermit crabs, starfish, sea horses, file fish, redfish, sea trout, grouper, snapper, and flounder.

Keaton Beach faced a significant storm in the past. On March 13, 1993, the region was impacted by the “No Name Storm” or the “Storm of the Century.” This tropical cyclone rapidly formed in the Gulf of Mexico over two days, wreaking havoc from Florida to eastern Canada. The storm claimed 47 lives in Florida and introduced record-cold temperatures to parts of the southern U.S., even leading to snow flurries in Jacksonville and sections of Central Florida.

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