The Heat Is Online

Tropical Storm Fay Drops 30 Inches of Rain on Florida

Tropical Storm Fay crosses into Florida for record 4th time, drenching Panhandle coast

The Associated Press, Aug. 23, 2008

 

STEINHATCHEE, Fla. (AP) _ Tropical Storm Fay crossed into the Florida Panhandle on Saturday, becoming the first storm of its kind in recorded history to hit the state four different times.

Fay's center made landfall around
1 a.m. EDT about 15 miles north-northeast of Apalachicola, according to the National Weather Service's National Hurricane Center
.

Fay was expected to finally leave the state on Saturday as it skirted across the Panhandle's coast and reached the coasts of
Mississippi and Alabama
on Sunday.

Though Fay never materialized into a hurricane, downpours along its zigzagging path have been punishing and deadly.

At least six people in
Florida
were dead from the storm, state officials said, and two more deaths reported Friday were believed to be Fay-related. The state attributed an additional death, before the storm hit, to hurricane preparedness after a man testing generators died of carbon monoxide poisoning.

"The damage from Fay is a reminder that a tropical storm does not have to reach a hurricane level to be dangerous and cause significant damage," said Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who toured flooded communities this week.

Crist on Friday asked the White House to elevate the disaster declaration President Bush issued to a major disaster declaration. Crist said the storm damaged 1,572 homes in
Brevard County alone, dropping 25 inches of rain in Melbourne
.

Counties in the Panhandle  including Bay,
Escambia
and Walton  opened their emergency operations centers Friday in preparation for the storm's expected arrival there.

In Steinhatchee, just south of
Florida's Big Bend
, bartender Dana Watson said she was bracing for a possible drenching. "It's moving real slow. We're waiting. We're just waiting."

In an area that can flood badly when high tide rolls in during a bad storm, she said most people remain prepared. "We've all got our generators filled up with gas and oil and our nonperishable food," Watson said.

At
8 a.m. Saturday, the center of the storm was located about 20 miles southeast of Panama City
and moving west near 7 mph with sustained winds near 45 mph. The storm was expected to keep its strength and remain a tropical storm into Sunday.

Fay's wake caused widespread flooding along
Florida's east coast, especially in Jacksonville near the storm's third landfall. Some areas of Duval County reported up to 20 inches of rain, and authorities reported an unknown number of homes and businesses flooded. Floodwaters began receding in some of the hardest-hit areas of South Florida
.

Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty said almost 4,000 flood claims from Fay had been filed so far.

Fay has been an unusual storm, even by
Florida standards. It first made landfall in the Florida Keys on Monday, then headed out over open water again before hitting a second time near Naples on the southwest coast. It limped across the state, popped back out into the Atlantic Ocean and struck again near Flagler Beach on the central coast. It was the first storm in almost 50 years to make three landfalls in the state, as most hit and exit within a day or two.


Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved. 

 

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Go away, Fay: Storm hits Fla. for 4th day

 

Governor declares disaster; third dose of Fay to

bring up to 30 inches of rain

 

The Associated Press, Aug. 21, 2008

 

MELBOURNE, Fla. - For a fourth weary day, Tropical Storm Fay continued its soggy march through Florida Thursday, forcing dozens more residents to flee floodwaters and even driving alligators and snakes out of their habitats and into streets.

 

Residents were beginning to get tired of Fay, which made landfall in the state again on Thursday  for the third time this week. Flooding was especially acute along the Atlantic coast from Port St. Lucie to Cape Canaveral, with water reaching depths of 5 feet in some neighborhoods.

 

"This is the worst I've absolutely ever seen it," said Mike White, 57, after he was rescued by the National Guard from floodwaters lapping at the doorstep of his mobile home.

 

The erratic and stubborn storm has dumped more than two feet of rain along parts of Florida's low-lying central Atlantic coast. It is just the fourth storm in history to make landfall as a tropical storm three times, the last in 1960. Before it eases across the Panhandle by the weekend, it could bring buckets more.

 

If the water itself wasn't enough, people in flooded parts of the area known as the Space Coast were warned to keep watch for alligators, snakes and other wildlife forced from their habitats and swimming in search of dry land. At least two alligators were captured in residential neighborhoods and several others spotted.

 

Florida National Guardsman Steve Johnson, 45, said he was wading through hip-deep water Wednesday night with a flashlight when an alligator drifted by.

 

"I said. 'What the heck is that?' and there was an alligator floating by," Johnson said Thursday. "I took my flashlight and was like, 'You've got to be kidding me, a big old alligator swimming around here.'"

 

Governor declares disaster

 

In Carla Viotto's backyard in Indialantic, located outside of Melbourne, snakes were swimming around in 4 inches of water amid a pair of empty 5-gallon water jugs.

 

"It looked just like a junk yard," she said Thursday.

 

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who visited the area Thursday, has already asked the Bush administration to declare a federal disaster in the region to help with the storm's costs.

 

"This storm is going to be with us for a while," Crist said at a news conference.

 

The outer bands of Fay continued to pour sporadic rains Thursday along the 100-mile Georgia coast, with some areas reporting winds of 20 to 30 mph. The National Weather Service said southern Georgia could see some flooding from 5 to 10 inches of rain across southern Georgia as the storm moved west through northern Florida.

 

Mary Neff watched the rain come and go for a second straight day Thursday in coastal St. Marys, Ga., two blocks from the downtown waterfront at the Spencer House Inn, which she owns with her husband.

 

"We're kind of just waiting," Mary Neff said Thursday afternoon. "It needs to come and get gone so we can get back to what we were doing."

 

'This is insane'

 

At 2 p.m. EDT, the storm began sluggishly moving west at about 2 mph, still with maximum sustained winds of 60 mph. The storm's center was located almost directly above Flagler Beach, south of St. Augustine. It was expected to move northwest bringing heavy rains to northern Florida and southern Georgia.

 

No deaths have been reported in Florida because of Fay, which is responsible for at least 20 deaths when it passed through the Caribbean.

 

With the rain deluge passing to the north, the sun began to dry out some Florida neighborhoods hit by floods earlier in the week. The mood was considerably brighter for many residents who were finally able to get out of their homes.

 

"I'm ready to get back to work. This is insane. It'll drive you nuts being stuck like this," said Barry Johnson, 44, of Port St. Lucie.

 

© 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

 

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