Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Fay turns northwest toward Panhandle

CRYSTAL RIVER — Tropical Storm Fay staggered across north-central Florida toward the Panhandle on Friday, taking aim at the last section of the state yet to be touched by its five-day downpour of misery.

As it sloshed its way westward, the storm's outer bands promised a soggy weekend for the Tampa Bay area, too.

Although Fay has never achieved hurricane strength, state officials blame the storm for the deaths of seven people in Florida so far, two of them tourists who drowned. A tornado touched down in Lake Wales in Polk County on Friday evening, damaging four homes and a bridge but injuring no one.

Gov. Charlie Crist called Fay "devastating, dangerous and deadly." In Brevard County alone, preliminary damage estimates totaled $53-million.

By Friday afternoon, the torrential rain that Fay dumped on the state included 26.65 inches in Melbourne, 22.83 at Cape Canaveral and 20.75 at Palm Shores. Fay is expected to produce 4 to 8 inches of rain over the northern Florida peninsula, the Florida Panhandle, South Georgia and southeastern Alabama, with isolated amounts of 12 inches possible.

Everywhere Fay has traveled so far, flooding has followed. In Deltona, carp and mallards swam past submerged mailboxes. In Jacksonville, the St. Johns River overflowed its banks, sending ripples across nearby roads. In Orlando, officials urged residents to limit the use of showers, washing machines and dishwashers because they feared the heavy rain would back up the sewer system.

And in Melbourne, airport officials had to clear four walking catfish off the runway before a Delta Air Lines jet could land.

Tropical Storm Fay's floodwaters have sent critters by the dozen crawling from their homes. In Jupiter, residents have dropped off about a hundred displaced animals at the Busch Wildlife Sanctuary, mostly baby rabbits, squirrels, turtles and birds. Executive director David Hitzig and his staff have been busy treating the injured animals.

In Citrus County, Fay's outer bands began inundating places like Floral City early on Friday, dumping more than 4 1/2 inches by day's end.

At a waterfront restaurant in Crystal River called Cracker's Bar, Grill & Tiki, the waves from Kings Bay lapped higher and higher, with high tide approaching. But even as rain slanted in from the west, diners still sat at the tiki bar as if it were just another sun-drenched day on the Nature Coast.

"People like this kind of crazy stuff," grumbled owner David Garrick. "I don't."

He remembers the last time the tiki bar flooded. It was the infamous No-Name Storm of 1993, when a tidal surge as high as 12 feet in some places swamped houses, smashed cars, scooped up furniture, appliances and boats, causing more than $500-million in property damage on just the gulf coast. Fay's storm surge should not top 4 feet, the National Hurricane Center predicted.

Down the road in Homosassa, the continuing drizzle had already flooded the parking lot at Tropical Window Tinting, owned by Karl and Marie LaFollette. Mrs. LaFollette, 44, said the flooding had hurt her business, which caters to people with nice cars. She said well-dressed professionals have to hold up their pants to walk through the parking lot in the rainy season.

"Nobody wants to come in here," she said.

In Neptune Beach, police said an Indiana tourist, 21-year-old Rachel Ann Reed, drowned after going swimming in a rough ocean churned up by the storm. To the south in Volusia County, authorities said Fatmira Krkuti, 35, of Brooklyn, N.Y., also drowned in Fay-generated waves.

Four victims died in traffic accidents on rain-slick roads, and another died of carbon monoxide poisoning while testing a generator.

Times staff writer Alex Leary contributed to this report, which contains information from the Orlando Sentinel, CNN and the Associated Press.

Fay turns northwest toward Panhandle 08/22/08 [Last modified: Sunday, August 24, 2008 9:52am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. For starters: Rays at Orioles, facing another old friend in Jeremy Hellickson


    The Rays take on the Orioles again tonight and will face another old friend for the first time, as RHP Jeremy Hellickson will take the mound for the home team.

    Hellickson was drafted by the Rays in 2005 and pitched for them from 2010-14, then was traded to Arizona. He has since bounced to the Phillies and …

  2. Pinellas construction licensing board needs to be fixed. But how?

    Local Government

    LARGO –– Everyone agrees that the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board needs to be reformed. But no one agrees on how to do it.

    Rodney Fischer, former executive director of the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board Rodney, at a February meeting. His management of the agency was criticized by an inspector general's report. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  3. Charles Bradley, acclaimed Florida soul singer, dies at 68


    Acclaimed Florida R&B powerhouse Charles Bradley, whose raw, pained voice earned him the nickname the Screaming Eagle of Soul, has died of cancer at 68, his representatives announced Saturday.

    Charles Bradley performed at the 2016 Gasparilla Music Festival.
  4. Kriseman and Baker cash race continues as campaigns officially reset


    The mayoral campaign, mostly operating in stealth mode during the two weeks of Hurricane Irma's build-up, arrival and recovery, has entered its stretch run, a compressed schedule of ten days before ballots are mailed to tens of thousands of voters in the Sunshine City.

    Mayor Rick Kriseman and former mayor Rick Baker are emerging from Hurricane Irma mode and getting back into campaign form
  5. Bucs have chance to beat Vikings in their third stadium


    Here's a cool sign that the Bucs are getting up there as an NFL franchise: If Tampa Bay can win Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium, it will mark the first time the Bucs have posted road wins against the same NFL opponent in three different stadiums.

    TIMES ARCHIVES (2012) | Bucs RB Doug Martin runs during Tampa Bay's 36-17 win at the Vikings in 2012, in what was then called Mall of America Field. If Tampa Bay wins Sunday, it will mark the first time they have road wins against the same NFL opponent in three different stadiums.