Thursday, June 28, 2012

Tropical Storm Debby

Sometimes water enters our lives in a tragic way. This house belongs to my good friend Bobby. We both live in Lake City Florida. And for 3 days tropical storm Debby inundated us with days of torrential rain. The picture was taken on the second day of the storm. Rain was pouring down, and Bobby's camera was wet. He had to save his animals from drowning. Chickens, goats, etc. After posting this I am on my way over there to help salvage what we can. Below is what our local newspaper The Lake City Reporter wrote.

Rainfall total tops 30 inches; more coming

Published: Wednesday, June 27, 2012 5:48 AM EDT

Tropical Storm Debby flooded homes and closed local roads and an interstate highway in Columbia County as the storm hung stubbornly offshore over the Gulf of Mexico, bringing more than two feet of rain before making landfall Tuesday evening.

Debby promises to bring more winds, relentless rain and flooding to the already saturated state today. The storm will move slowly east across North Florida and push into the Atlantic Wednesday night.

Between Sunday and Tuesday, an estimated 30 inches fell on Columbia County, said Harvey Campbell, county emergency management public information officer.

 An additional 4 to 8 inches was predicted to fall overnight, he said.

“It is really a mess out here,” said Lake City resident Donna Cameron, 67.

The water was knee-high in Cameron’s yard at the Quail Heights Country Club, she said. People were paddling the neighborhood in rafts and the flooding was the worst she has seen in her 14 years at the house.

“I’m just scared to death it’s going to come completely in the house,” she said. “There’s just not much land in sight out here,” Cameron said.

A young girl was swept out of her yard on Falling Creek Road by floodwaters Tuesday, but managed to hang onto a tree against raging flood waters until neighbors reached her with a boat and brought her to safety, according to the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office.

Residents were evacuated from their homes by boat, as officials urged residents to stay off roads if possible.

Fallen tress blocked two lanes on Lassie Black Road, south of Interstate 10, reportedly damaging a bridge. The flood waters brought snakes, alligators and other wildlife out of their normal habitats.

Floodwaters inched towards and flooded hundreds of homes across the county. Trees, unsupported by the saturated soil, collapsed into homes and power lines. Officials scrambled to update residents on road closures, though conditions changed as rapidly as the inches of rain piled up.

Rain draining into the Suwannee and Santa Fe rivers is expected to swell the rivers well beyond banks and into homes and roads. River levels may rise more than 30 feet from drought conditions last week.

Debby made landfall near Steinhatchee Tuesday with top winds of 40 mph and was expected to weaken to a tropical depression by this morning.

Debby has drenched Florida for four straight days and forecasters warn that even though the storm is weakening, the threat of flooding remains.

Forecasters were expecting the rains to continue, bringing another 4 to 8 inches across northern Florida. The storm could also bring up to 10 inches of rain to southeastern Georgia.

The Florida Highway Patrol closed portions of Interstate 10 Tuesday when troopers reported several areas of flooding on a roughly 50-mile stretch. Authorities warned motorists to use extreme caution on other parts of the highway.

Roads were washed out in the area and residents tried to salvage belongings from flooded homes in low-lying areas.

At one point Monday, high winds and flooding worries prompted authorities to close two major routes over Tampa Bay into St. Petersburg.

At least one person was killed Sunday by a tornado spun off by the large storm system.

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.

Alabama authorities searched for a South Carolina man who disappeared in the rough surf.

The bridge leading to St. George Island, a vacation spot along the Panhandle, was closed to everyone except residents, renters and business owners to keep looters out. The island had no power, and palm trees had been blown down, but roads were passable.

“Most true islanders are hanging in there because they know that you may or may not be able to get back to your home when you need to,” said David Walker, an island resident having a beer at Eddy Teach’s bar. He said he had been through many storms on the island and Debby was on the weaker end of the scale.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a statewide emergency, allowing authorities to put laws against price-gouging into effect and override bureaucratic hurdles to dea
l with the storm.

By Laura Hampson@The Lake City Reporter

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