Facebook Twitter

BERYL WASHES OUT ROADS, CAUSES OUTAGES IN FLORIDA

SHARE BERYL WASHES OUT ROADS, CAUSES OUTAGES IN FLORIDA

Heavy rain and wind up to 50 mph from Tropical Storm Beryl washed out roads, flooded coastal areas and knocked out electricity in the Florida Panhandle before taking aim at Georgia Tuesday.

There were no reports of severe damage or serious injuries. Weakening as it moved inland, the storm headed Tuesday into southwestern Georgia, which was racked last month by flooding caused by Beryl's predecessor, Tropical Storm Alberto."We're just trying to clean it up. It's everything we expected of a tropical storm. We took a pretty big hit," said Greg Diehl, a Wakulla County, Fla., commissioner. He said the water was "pretty much receding" this morning.

Nearly 61/2 inches of rain fell at Tallahassee in the 24 hours ending at 8 a.m. Tuesday.

"My daddy always said, `You pay a price for living by the water,' " Walter Beckham, 61, said Monday as he helped hose silt and muck out of Posey's restaurant in the coastal town of St. Marks, 15 miles south of Tallahassee.

The restaurant's linoleum tiles were beginning to curl, and an oyster cooler outside had been lifted 10 feet up a hill by the rising water.

At 8 a.m., Beryl was over southwestern Georgia, about 45 miles west-southwest of Albany. Sustained wind had dropped to 35 mph, making the system no longer officially a tropical storm. Street flooding was reported Tuesday morning in southwestern Georgia.

The Hurricane Center said the storm will dump 4 to 6 inches of rain on Alabama, Georgia and northern Florida, although some spots could get as much as 12 inches.

Beryl was less powerful than Alberto, which came ashore early last month at around 70 mph, nearly hurricane strength.

And Alberto was unusual in that it stalled for three days over Georgia. It dumped nearly 2 feet of rain in some areas, killing 31 people in the state and forcing more than 40,000 people to evacuate.

The Florida Panhandle got hit twice: when Alberto moved ashore July 3, and later in the month, as the flooding in the rivers surged downstream from Georgia. Nearly 800 homes in four Panhandle towns were damaged or ruined, and damage was estimated at $40 million.

"We can't take too much more rain," said Alan Pierce, emergency management director for Florida's Franklin County, where last month's floodwaters ruined the oyster harvest. "We've been having bad weather ever since Alberto. It's getting real old."

Georgians were equally worried. "Who knows what's next?" said Melodie Holton of Mitchell County, Ga. She and her cattleman husband, Lane Holton, lost about $500,000 when their fields and pastures flooded last month.

"A lot of the floodwater is still here," Melodie Holton said. "A lot of it is trapped. It wouldn't take much to bring it up again."

Isolated power outages were reported throughout the Florida Panhandle as wind and waves rose, and some schools were closed. Part of the main road through Alligator Point collapsed at high tide, and other roads were under water.

Eighteen people stayed at the four emergency shelters in Wakulla, Leon and Taylor counties, said American Red Cross volunteer Chris Floyd.

A tropical weather system is officially classified as a tropical storm when its sustained wind tops 39 mph.