10-year-old boy killed by log washed ashore by Tropical Storm Cindy
(AP) — A boy on an Alabama beach was struck and killed Wednesday by a log washed ashore by storm surge from Tropical Storm Cindy, which spun bands of severe weather ashore from the Florida panhandle to east Texas as it churned ever closer to the Gulf coast.
Baldwin County Sheriff's Capt. Stephen Arthur said witnesses reported the 10-year-old boy from Missouri was standing outside a condominium in Fort Morgan when the log, carried in by a large wave, struck him. Arthur said the youth was vacationing with his family from the St. Louis area and that relatives and emergency workers tried to revive him. He wasn't immediately identified.
It was the first known fatality from Cindy. The storm formed Tuesday and was expected to make landfall some time late Wednesday or early Thursday near the Louisiana-Texas line. The worst weather was on the east side of the storm. It included drenching rains that posed flash flood threats, strong tidal surges, waterspouts and reports of possible tornadoes.
The White House said President Donald Trump was briefed on the storm Wednesday by Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert.
Also Wednesday, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency, like his Alabama counterpart a day earlier. He was among authorities stressing that the storm's danger wasn't limited to the coast.
In Knoxville, Tennessee, the power-generating Tennessee Valley Authority, said it was drawing down water levels on nine lakes it controls along the Tennessee River and its tributaries in Tennessee, Alabama and Kentucky, anticipating heavy runoff from Cindy's rains once the storm moves inland. The TVA manages 49 dams to regulate water, provide power and help control downstream flooding.
The storm was centered Wednesday afternoon about 135 miles (215 kilometers) south of Lake Charles, Louisiana and had top sustained winds of 50 mph (85 kph). A tropical storm warning was in effect along the coast from San Luis Pass, Texas, to the mouth of the Mississippi River.
On the Mississippi coast, a waterspout came ashore in Biloxi early Wednesday. Harrison County Emergency Management Director Rupert Lacy said there were no injuries but fences, trees and power lines were damaged. In coastal Mississippi, some areas received up to 9 inches (230 millimeters) of rain. Forecasters issued tornado warnings at various times during the day.
"There's still a long stretch of tropical moisture coming across the Gulf of Mexico," said Alek Krautmann of the National Weather Service in Slidell, Louisiana. "We still think there's a heavy rain potential really through Thursday night and early Friday."
There were widespread reports of street and road flooding along the Gulf Coast as far east as Florida, where the National Park Service reported the bridge closed between Navarre Beach and Pensacola Beach. One emergency official reported a passing storm cell downed trees and caused other damage in the Fort Walton Beach area of the Florida Panhandle.
"We were saturated before this even started ... I'm a bit concerned about what the next 24 hours will bring," real estate broker John Rickman in Pensacola said.
In Alabama, streets were flooded and beaches were closed on the barrier island of Dauphin Island. Some roads were covered with water in the seafood village of Bayou La Batre, but Becca Caldemeyer still managed to get to her bait shop at the city dock. If only there were more customers, she said.
"It's pretty quiet," Caldemeyer said by phone from Rough Water Bait and Tackle. "Nobody can cast a shrimp out in this kind of wind."
Forecasters expected rain totaling 6 to 9 inches (150-220 millimeters) with up to 15 inches (380 millimeters) possible in some spots in Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and the Florida Panhandle. East Texas rain totals were expected to be from 3 to 6 inches (80-150 millimeters).
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ordered the State Operations Center to raise its readiness level. He also activated four Texas Task Force 1 boat squads and two Texas Military Department vehicles squads of five vehicles each for weather-related emergencies.
The Louisiana National Guard dispatched high water vehicles and helicopters into flood-prone areas. The state said the Federal Emergency Management Agency also was moving 125,000 meals and 200,000 liters of water into Louisiana. And workers on Grand Isle, Louisiana's barrier island community south of New Orleans, reinforced a rock levee protecting the island's vulnerable west side.
"All arms of the state's emergency preparedness and response apparatus are taking Tropical Storm Cindy seriously, and we are calling on all Louisianans throughout the state to do so as well," Edwards said in a statement.