A vehicle sits abandoned in floodwaters in Jacksonville, Fla., as Tropical Storm Fay continues to dump rain on northern Florida on Friday. The storm’s death toll is six in Florida and nearly 30 since it first hit the Caribbean.AP photo
STEINHATCHEE, Fla. — As Tropical Storm Fay finally got on track Friday to make its way out of Florida, flood-stricken homeowners got an encouraging sign: Muddy brown water lines began appearing on the sides of homes, a clue that floodwaters were receding.
The fickle storm that stuck around for five days and carved a dizzying path that included three separate landfalls dumped more than two feet of rain in some places. But to the relief of Floridians, it was finally expected to veer west over the Panhandle before leaving for good later this weekend.
Officials in Melbourne, one of the hardest-hit areas on the central Atlantic coast, carried boats down streets where just a day earlier 4 feet of water made roads look like rivers. Water several feet high remained in some neighborhoods, but most of the area had drained, leaving behind a half-inch layer of muck and mud.
“This is a welcome sight,” said Ron Salvatore, 69, who stood in his driveway Friday morning boiling coffee on a propane grill and surveyed a dry street. Salvatore and his wife Terry, 59, had been stuck in the house since Tuesday because water surrounded their home.
The storm’s death toll rose to six in Florida and nearly 30 overall since it first struck in the Caribbean. Florida officials said four people died in traffic accidents in the heavy rain and two others drowned in surf kicked up by the storm. Before the storm ever blew through the state, a man testing generators as a precaution also was killed.
Tens of thousands of people from Melbourne to Jacksonville to Gainesville were still without electricity, and residents of Florida’s storm-stricken Atlantic coast faced a weekend of cleanup after chest-high flooding. Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty said there will likely be thousands of flood claims from Fay.