Tropical storm kills 1 in Florida; injures 10 at Georgia base

Tropical Storm Elsa left behind a path of destruction along the east coast. Death and injuries followed.

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July 8, 2021 - 9:31 AM

Beach goers walk along the sand on Pass-a-Grille the morning after Tropical Storm Elsa moved over the Tampa Bay Area Wednesday in St. Pete Beach.

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — Tropical Storm Elsa carved a destructive and soaking path up the East Coast after killing at least one person in Florida and spinning up a tornado at a Georgia Navy base that flipped recreational vehicles upside-down and blew one of them into a lake.

Elsa’s winds weakened to 40 mph, but it was dropping torrential rains over the Carolinas as it made its way through South Carolina early Thursday, the National Hurricane Center said in its latest update. Elsa was expected to move over North Carolina later in the day, pass near the eastern mid-Atlantic states by Thursday night and move near or over the northeastern United States on Friday.

Some re-strengthening was possible Thursday night and Friday while the system moves close to the northeastern United States.

A tropical storm warning was in effect north of Great Egg Inlet, New Jersey to Sandy Hook, New Jersey, and for the coast of Long Island from East Rockaway Inlet to the eastern tip along the south shore and from Port Jefferson Harbor eastward on the north shore. A warning was also in effect from New Haven, Connecticut to Merrimack River, Massachusetts including Cape Cod, Block Island, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket.

There was a chance Long Island in New York would see sustained tropical storm-force winds late Thursday night and into Friday morning, the National Weather Service in New York warned.

Elsa seemed to spare Florida from significant damage, though it still threatened flooding downpours and caused several tornado warnings. The coasts of Georgia and South Carolina were under a tropical storm warning. Forecasters predicted Elsa would remain a tropical storm into Friday, and issued a tropical storm watch from North Carolina to Massachusetts.

Authorities in Jacksonville, Florida, said one person was killed Wednesday when a tree fell and struck two cars. The National Weather Service reported 50 mph wind gusts in the city. The tree fell during heavy rains and no one else was injured, according to Capt. Eric Prosswimmer of the Jacksonville Fire Rescue Department.

In nearby Camden County, Georgia, a possible tornado struck a park for recreational vehicles at Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base. About 10 people were injured and taken to hospitals by ambulance, said base spokesman Scott Bassett. The extent of their injuries was not immediately clear. He said some buildings on the base appeared to have been damaged as well.

AN EF-2 tornado flipped over multiple RVs, blowing one of the overturned vehicles about 200 feet into a lake, the National Weather Service said in a preliminary report early Thursday after its employees surveyed the damage. Debris from the RVs was strewn throughout the park, the agency said.

Sergio Rodriguez, who lives near the RV park, said he raced to the scene fearing friends staying at the park might be hurt. The area was under a tornado warning Wednesday evening.

“There were just RVs flipped over on their sides, pickup trucks flipped over, a couple of trailers had been shifted and a couple of trailers were in the water” of a pond on the site, Rodriguez said in a phone interview.

Cellphone video he filmed at the scene showed trees bent low among scattered debris. He said ambulances arrived and began treating dazed people trying to understand what had happened.

“A bunch of folks had lacerations and were just banged around,” Rodriguez said. “A majority of folks were in their trailers when it happened.”

The hurricane center said there was a risk of flooding in South Carolina, which was predicted to get 3 to 5 inches of rainfall.

More than 7 inches of rain was recorded at a weather station near Gainesville, Florida, the weather service reported. More than 5 inches of rain had fallen by early Thursday at Sapelo Island off the Georgia coast; and at a weather station along the Savannah River in Jasper County, South Carolina.

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