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Greg Allen

More than 300 people recently packed into a college auditorium in the middle of a weekday to see Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum in St. Petersburg, Fla. The Democrat is running for governor and, if elected, would be the first in the party to win the seat in the state in 20 years. He'd also be the first African-American governor in Florida's history.

He's facing former Republican U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis in a contest that has been marked by heated attacks, the influence of President Trump and a hurricane.

In Mexico Beach, Fla., Lance Erwin is one of the lucky ones. His house is still standing. He stayed in his home during Hurricane Michael, several blocks from the beach, in a part of his house that he calls his "safe room."

"The garage door was shaking," he says. "I knew the roof was gone at that point because everything was shaking. I thought, 'Just hang in there.' I had faith everything was going to be OK."

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Nearly one year after Irma slammed into the Florida Keys, workers who prop up the community's tourism industry are still struggling to find housing. Thousands of homes were destroyed in the storm, driving up the cost of housing on an island chain that's long been one of Florida's most expensive places to live.

After months of work, there are now a few projects underway. With $2 million in help from Monroe County, a private developer is soon breaking ground on a 200-unit workforce housing complex near Key West.

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It was back-to-school day for Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in South Florida. Just six months ago, the school was the site of a mass shooting. A gunman killed 17 people and injured 17 others.

If you've been to a beach this summer, anywhere from Texas to the Carolinas, you've likely seen it. Masses of brown seaweed, sometimes a few clumps, often big mounds, line the shore. It's sargassum, a floating weed that's clogging bays and piling up on beaches in the Gulf and Caribbean.

On Miami Beach recently, Mike Berrier was enjoying the sun and the water, despite the sargassum weed.

Smack in the middle of the Florida peninsula, Lake Okeechobee, one of the largest lakes in the U.S., has a nagging problem. Nearly every year now, large blooms of algae form in the lake.

On a recent visit, even Steve Davis, a senior ecologist with the Everglades Foundation, was surprised.

"Oh my gosh," he exclaimed, "look how thick this blue-green mat is right here."

At Florida's Capitol in Tallahassee, four times a year, dozens of anxious people gather to hear a decision that will affect the rest of their lives. Felons whose sentences and probation are complete stand before the governor and other Cabinet members to ask for clemency and the restoration of their right to vote.

After waiting for years, Joanne Calvarese made her case to the clemency board in June.

"I feel that I have paid my consequences," Calvarese said. "I know I don't deserve your mercy, but I beg you for it."

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