Environment

TS Debby: Review Your Insurance Policies

Jun 26, 2012
Pamela Andrews

With all the flooding and damage done by Tropical Storm Debby, one consumer lawyer is advising folks to be prepared.... with their insurance policies.

Debby has caused flooding, power outages, and tornadoes that tore the roofs off homes. 

Consumer Lawyer Eric Seidel says a storm like Debby is the time to keep your insurance policies close at hand. If you do experience some damage, he says contact both home owners and flooding insurers if you have them. 

Sarah Curran

Slow-moving Tropical Storm Debby has spawned sinkholes in Hernando County, tornadoes in Polk and Pinellas and a deadly twister in Highlands that stole a mother from her toddler.

Now it's forcing people in Pasco County out of their homes because of flooding. 

Pasco County authorities have an emergency evacuation underway in parts of New Port Richey. 

Debby is doing a number on folks along the Gulf Coast from Alabama to northern Florida.

The tropical storm, which has been lashing the region since the weekend, could dump another 2 feet of rain by the end of the week, forecasters warn. Residents are being warned to also watch out for tornadoes, flash floods and sinkholes.

Pass-a-Grille resident Tony Howe was sitting in his living room watching television when he heard a deafening sound.

"All of a sudden I heard this very loud noise like a freight train," Howe says.

"I was trying to get up from my chair and all my windows blew out and the glass shattered all over my apartment and hit me."

Howe's was one of 20 homes and businesses to be damaged by wind and by water. Florida Fire Marshal spokesperson Ernie Hand says at least eight buildings were severely damaged.

Some storms, like Hurricanes Charlie and Andrew, hit you like a fist and they’re gone.

But there’s another type of storm – slow, plodding and relentless. That’s Debby.

Meteorologists think Debby is weakening. But the storm doesn’t have to be strong to do lots of damage.

David Feltgen says he hears it all the time: “Oh, it’s just a tropical storm.”

But tropical storms can be just as dangerous, according to Feltgen, a meteorologist with the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

Mark Schreiner / WUSF 89.7 News

Even as the rains from Tropical Storm Debby fell at her Clearwater mobile home Sunday afternoon, Pamela Andrews thought she'd have time to get things together if she, her boyfriend and her son had to leave.

They didn't get the chance, as the nearby Cross Creek Bayou overran its banks, forcing them and other residents of the Mariner's Cove Mobile Home Park to grab whatever they could and flee the area. 

Tropical Storm Debby Takes a Toll on Tampa

Jun 25, 2012
Brad Mcclenny / The Gainesville Sun / Associated Press

UPDATE:  As of 9:30 this morning Town ‘N Country Commons, the Upper Tampa Bay Trail, and Alderman’s Ford Park are inaccessible due to severe weather.

Residents of the Sunrise Village Retirement Home will evacuate today as a precaution to more expected rain. Since the area is prone to flooding The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and Hillsborough County Fire Rescue will assist in the evacuation and predict to moving around 90 residents.

Photos of Tropical Storm Debby Damage

Jun 25, 2012

Tropical Storm Debby inches its way through Florida, causing extensive wind damage and extreme floods.

In this slideshow you'll see the tornado damage from Pass-a-grille, flooding in South Tampa and Mariners Cove Mobile Home Park in Clearwater, and other pictures of Debby's damage in the Tampa Bay Region.

If you've got pictures you'd like to add, just e-mail scottfinn@wusf.org.

Road Closures in Tampa Area

Jun 25, 2012
Bay News 9

The Tampa Bay Times reports the following road closures:

• Sunshine Skyway Bridge

• Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa.

• Southbound exit at 54th Street from I-275 in St. Petersburg.

• Hillsborough Avenue from Hanley Road to Sawyer Road, Tampa.

• County Road 95 east of U.S. 19, Palm Harbor.

• Memorial Highway from George Road to Dana Shores Drive

• Traffic restricted on Old Coachman Road, Clearwater.

• Traffic is restricted at East Enterprise Road east of Frisco Drive in Clearwater.

National Weather Service

The National Weather Service has issued a number of watches and warnings for the Tampa Bay Area, including a tropical storm warning.

Click HERE for the very latest.
Current National Weather Service Radar

Tropical Storm Threat

Jun 23, 2012
National Hurricane Center

Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center in Miami say a broad area of low pressure in the Gulf of Mexico appears to be getting better organized.  

Tropical storm watches or warnings may be required for the Northern Gulf Coast later this weekend.  

This system has high chance (90%) of becoming Tropical Storm Debby as it moves slowly northward during the next 48 hours.  Residents of the Florida Peninsula -- including the Tampa Bay Area -- can expect periods of heavy rain this weekend.

WUSF recently went along with a thousand-mile journey through the heart of the state with the Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition. But before that trip, another adventure was being captured in the lens of filmmaker Elam Stoltzfus.

In a documentary to be shown tonight on WUSF TV Channel 16, he takes a look at the history of how the Kissimmee River was straightened into a channel - how that devastated the wildlife in the headwaters of the Everglades - and how it's now being restored.

Courtesy of Outdoor Life

The Florida Highway Patrol says a 12-foot alligator was crossing Interstate 275 early Sunday morning when it was hit by a Toyota sedan.  The creature managed to escape into the woods. 

The gator then showed up on the Southbound lanes of 275 near Gandy Boulevard and was struck by a Kia. 

Both cars were damaged in the accidents, but their drivers were unscathed.  The alligator died after it was hit the second time and a trapper came to take its carcass away. 

Though plenty of people in the Tampa Bay area felt a little waterlogged from all the rain at the end of last week, the Southwest Florida Water Management District says it wasn't enough to lift water restrictions.

But Spokeswoman Robyn Felix says the big rain was a great start to the rainy season.

“We received about four to 6 inches of rainfall in the Tampa Bay area so far this month and we are starting to see our river and our aquifer levels rebound.  But it’s really going to take several more months  of regular summer rainfall for our water resources to recover.”

Steve Newborn / WUSF

The Hillsborough River is in many ways a tale of two rivers. Upstream, it quietly meanders through a forest of cypress trees dotted with alligators. But the river's lower half is recovering from decades of being mistreated by the needs of a growing Tampa. This is the second of a two-part series:

To view a slideshow by photographer Joseph Gamble, click HERE.

Joseph Gamble / Joseph Gamble Photography

Thousands of people cross it every day. It's where Tampa's drinking water comes from. But how much do you really know about the Hillsborough River?

WUSF’s Steve Newborn and I teamed up with the journalism department at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and Tampa Bay Times outdoors writer Terry Tomalin to tour the 59-mile waterway.

We discovered a tale of TWO rivers. WUSF’s Steve Newborn explored the urban part of the river as it travels into Tampa Bay.

Two separate wildfires in Brooker Creek Preserve broke out at the beginning of the Memorial Day weekend before being brought under control by East Lake Fire Rescue and Palm Harbor Fire Rescue.

Thursday was a day of weather extremes for the Tampa Bay area. 

The National Weather Service in Ruskin reports Tampa and Sarasota both set new high temperature records for May 24 with highs of 96 and 95 respectively. Both Brooksville in Hernando County and Bronson in Levy County posted highs of 97. 

Then, thanks to that heat and humidity, strong storms popped up along the sea breeze Thursday evening. 

Photo Courtesy of Dreamstime.com

Gas prices have been dropping all week just in time for the Memorial Day Holiday weekend. That means you can expect more drivers on the road.

The average price of gas is $3.41 Tampa-- slipping by more than 30 cents from the average price a month ago.

AAA says the lower gas prices could mean more drivers on the road.

AAA spokeswoman Jessica Brady says they're estimating 1.6 million Florida residents will hit the road this holiday weekend. And that doesn't include people coming into the sunshine state.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Several government agencies have banded together with groups as diverse as the Nature Conservancy and Wal-Mart to help protect the Florida Panther.

A deal has been closed to protect 1,278 acres on prime panther habitat along the south shore of the Caloosahatchee River. That's considered the dividing line between the Everglades and Big Cypress - where almost all the panthers live - and the rest of Florida.

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