Video: Downgraded Debby leaves Fla. flooded

  1. Closed captioning of: Downgraded Debby leaves Fla. flooded

    >> thanks. in florida , debby is a tropical depression but wreaking havoc. parts of the state have been drenched by more than 2 feet of rain leading to some of the worst flooding in 50 years. the weather channel 's jim cantore in flood ravaged live oak . jim, good morning to you.

    >> good morning, matt. this is our second tropical storm of the month. we've gone from drought to deluge here. unfortunately the soil cannot hold water. there are businesses, homes under water in through here. this is just from the 20 inches of rain that fell in less than 24 hours . this is the major way into live oak right here, and you can see behind me it is flooding. the water as high as 3 to 4 foot deep. yesterday when we were here we can see the top of the car. it's not going down. it's not going down on interstate 10 , the main fare east of us all the way to jacksonville, closed for 24 hours in both directions. until this freshwater recedes, neither area is going to be open for business and people aren't going to be able to get back in and assess the damage to homes. that is something to keep an eye on along with rivers. all the water will go into them, they will rise and that will flood another set of homes as well. florida obviously getting back into the sunshine they are used to. unfortunately they will deal with more flooding as the rivers rise. back to you matt.

    >> the damage has been done. jim cantore in live oak , florida this morning. we'll get

Image: Flooded business
Dave Martin  /  AP
A flooded business in Live Oak, Fla., is inspected from the outside on Wednesday. staff and news service reports
updated 6/27/2012 10:30:05 PM ET 2012-06-28T02:30:05

The remnants of Tropical Storm Debby moved off into the Atlantic on Wednesday, as many Florida communities started the long process of drying out and cleaning up.

Flooding damaged thousands of homes, washed out roads, opened up sinkholes and closed a section of Interstate 10 — the state's main east-west highway. Four people were killed in the storm.

In the Tampa area, more than 20 sinkholes opened up from the flash flooding, Tampa Bay Online reported.

Water was up to the roofs at some homes in low lying areas of Live Oak, Fla., on Wednesday. Several feet of water remained around businesses in downtown near the courthouse and many roads were impassable.

"The water came in so fast last night," said Live Oak resident Jorge Torres. "We were lucky to get out what we could. My shed is under water."

Image: Man looks at flooded home
Dave Martin  /  AP
Jorge Torres and his son Jayden, 12, stand overlooking their flooded home in Live Oak, Fla., on Wednesday. Dozens of homes and much of the downtown area were still flooded by torrential rains from Tropical Storm Debby.

Tuesday night, the National Hurricane Center downgraded Debby from a tropical storm as it slogged across northern Florida toward the Atlantic coast. Debby's maximum sustained winds Wednesday were near 35 mph.

Pasco County near Tampa on Tuesday ordered a mandatory evacuation for up to 20,000 people living between the Anclote and Pithlachascotee rivers. The Anclote rose from 9 feet before Debby's approach to more than 27 feet, well above major flood level.

Major flooding was also reported at Black Creek, as well as several other rivers in the Jacksonville region.

PhotoBlog: Flooded neighborhoods, homes

Portions of Interstate 10 in Lake City, Fla., remained closed early Wednesday due to flooding. The Florida Highway Patrol said two sections of the interstate were still under water. Both sections were near the area where the highway intersects with Interstate 75.

Image: Flooded living room
Dave Martin  /  AP
Gordon McClain, left, surveys his water-filled living room in Live Oak, Fla., on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, authorities reopened the Sunshine Skyway Bridge near St. Petersburg early Wednesday, more than two days after it was closed due to high winds.

Vacationers were wearing ponchos instead of swimsuits at the peak of the summer season because of the tropical storm, which has drenched Florida for at least four days straight like a giant shower head set up over the state's Gulf Coast. Debby has dumped more than 26 inches of rain in some spots.

Disney World wasn't as crowded as usual Tuesday, and one of its water parks closed because of the soggy, windy weather.

Debby finally blew ashore Tuesday afternoon near Steinhatchee in the Big Bend area, the crook of Florida's elbow. At that point, it had sustained winds near 40 mph — barely a tropical storm — hours before it was downgraded.

Video: Fate of nesting sea turtles in question after Debby (on this page)

A woman was killed in a tornado spun off from the storm Sunday, and a man disappeared in the rough surf over the weekend in Alabama.

The storm knocked out power to 250,000 homes and business starting last weekend, but electricity had been restored to all but about 15,000 Progress Energy customers by midday Tuesday.

President Barack Obama called Florida Gov. Rick Scott and promised the state will have "no unmet needs" as it deals with the flooding, White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

The Salvation Army handed out 1,000 personal hygiene kits to residents in three counties and would bring a mobile shower unit to people displaced by the floods in the Lake City area.

Along the state's beach communities, other worries emerged.

In Manatee County, nearly 200 endangered sea turtles lost their nests, while in Pinellas County, entire colonies of nesting seabirds were wiped out.

"I've never seen anything this bad here in this area," said Barb Walker of the Clearwater Audubon Society.

Walker added that some eagle nests were also destroyed and more than a dozen baby deer were separated from their mothers during the storm — but most of the babies were reunited with their herds.

There is some hope for the sea turtle population, said Suzi Fox, the director of Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring.

Although she estimated that some 180 nests in the county were destroyed, she saw 11 new nests on Wednesday morning. The turtles have six weeks of nesting season left.

"It's a gorgeous day. The waves have died down, the sun is out and the beach is flat," she said. "We have 11 nests laid on our beach as of last night and we're so excited. That's very encouraging."

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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