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Tornadoes and floods batter Gulf Coast

A second day of strong storms slammed into the Gulf Coast, producing tornadoes, high winds and heavy rain from Texas to Florida. One person was killed.

Eight workers were injured Monday when their barge smashed into an offshore oil platform in rough waters in the Gulf of Mexico, starting fires on both. None of the injuries was serious.The blaze on the barge was quickly extinguished, but the platform fire - 15 miles off the coast of Louisiana - burned for more than four hours before it was put out.

In Cape Coral, just west of Fort Myers, tree trimmer Edward Fischer, 32, was electrocuted when high winds pushed a branch into a power line.

At least five tornadoes were reported in Florida on Monday, including one near Tampa that dam-aged five homes. No one was injured.

At least two tornadoes skipped through St. Cloud, damaging a mobile home, three citrus-cargo trailers and uprooting an electrical pole.

As much as 5 inches of rain was reported in the Tampa area, which was bad news for an area already soaked by an unusually wet El Nino winter.

Elsewhere, large hail was reported in eastern Texas and tornado warnings were issued in Alabama as powerful storms swept through.

In Southern California, up to 41/2 inches of rain could fall by Tuesday night. A foot of snow was possible in the mountains.

Bulldozer crews along Highway 1 in Santa Monica worked through the night to reinforce the road with boulders. A heavy surf advisory was in effect for more than 300 miles of coast, from San Luis Obispo to Mexico, with waves as high as 18 feet expected.

"I really don't even want to cope with it anymore," said one resident, Gray Jones. "I'm tired of putting things behind my door where the water starts flooding in, where it overpowers the drains. It's just horrendous."

The seemingly endless stretch of storms has caused an estimated $275 million to $300 million damage in 22 of the 31 counties declared states of emergency by the governor. At least 10 deaths are blamed on the storms.

Damage to farms and ranches alone has reached nearly $50 million, the California Farm Bureau Federation said Monday.