Tropical storm Debby: Flooding forces I-10 closure in Florida (+video)
The Florida Highway Patrol closed portions of Interstate 10 (I-10) in north Florida early Tuesday due to flooding caused by tropical storm Debby. Troopers reported several areas of flooding on a roughly 50-mile stretch of the east-west interstate east of where it crosses I-75.
St. George Island, Fla.
Parts of the main interstate highway across northern Florida were closed by flooding Tuesday as Tropical Storm Debby hung stubbornly offshore over the Gulf of Mexico, threatening up to two feet of rain in places.Skip to next paragraph
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After raking Florida's Gulf coast with high winds and heavy rain, Debby promised to bring more of the same in the coming days as it drifted on a path forecast to take it over the state and east into the Atlantic by Friday.
But the wind, high surf and relentless rain have made the storm's presence felt.
The Florida Highway Patrol closed portions of Interstate 10 in north Florida early Tuesday due to flooding caused by rain. Troopers reported several areas of flooding on a roughly 50-mile stretch of the east-west interstate east of where it crosses I-75 and the agency warned motorists to use extreme caution on other parts of the highway.
South of that stretch of I-10, four puppies and a young dog drowned when a swollen creek flooded an animal shelter in the city of Starke. The Florida Times-Union reported that officials placed sandbags and dug trenches outside to protect the shelter, but the water rose quickly Sunday night.
Farther south, in the Tampa Bay area, roads such as Tampa's Bayshore Boulevard were washed out. Residents tried to salvage belongings from flooded homes in low-lying areas. At one point Monday, high winds and flooding concerns prompted authorities to close two major routes over Tampa Bay into St. Petersburg: the Howard Frankland Bridge from Tampa and the Sunshine Skyway from the southeast.
Before nightfall, Debbie had dumped more than a foot of rain on some parts over the previous 96 hours. And forecasters were expecting the rains to continue, bringing another 4 to 8 inches across northern Florida.
Torrential rains and flooding would continue across parts of the Florida Panhandle and northern Florida for several days, even though the storm wasn't expected to gain strength.
"The widespread flooding is the biggest concern," said Florida Emergency Operations Center spokeswoman Julie Roberts. "It's a concern that Debby is going to be around for the next couple of days, and while it sits there, it's going to continue to drop rain. The longer it sits, the more rain we get."
At least one person was killed Sunday by a tornado spun off by the large storm system.
WFLA-TV reported that a young mother, Heather Town, died Sunday when her Highlands County home was lifted off its foundation and she and her baby girl were thrown into nearby woods. The mother was found clutching the child, who survived.
"She was a great mother, and held her baby through all of this and held her so tight," her father, Elmer Town, Jr., told the news station. "She was holding her during the tornado. And when they found her, she was still holding her."