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Tropical storm pounds East Coast after killing 1 in Florida

By Russ Bynum And Curt Anderson associated Press - | Jul 8, 2021
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A jogger makes his way along Bayshore Blvd., in Tampa, Fla. as a wave breaks over a seawall, during the aftermath of Tropical Storm Elsa Wednesday, July 7, 2021. The Tampa Bay area was spared major damage as Elsa stayed off shore as it passed by.

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A couple of signs hang loose on their post after Hurricane Elsa moved over the Tampa Bay Area, Wednesday, July 7, 2021 in Pinellas Park, Fla. The Tampa Bay area was spared major damage as Elsa stayed off shore as it passed by.

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People walk by one of two vehicles hit by a large pine tree that fell across Roosevelt Blvd. in the Ortega neighborhood of Jacksonville, Fla. during the strong winds from Tropical Storm Elsa, Wednesday, July 7, 2021.

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Utility workers look at the large pine tree which fell across Roosevelt Blvd. in the Ortega neighborhood of Jacksonville, Fla. during the strong winds from Tropical Storm Elsa, Wednesday, July 7, 2021.

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Tropical Storm Elsa brought widespread damage to parts of Florida and South Carolina, uprooting trees and causing damage to vehicles and buildings.

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Law enforcement investigators in the scene of a fatal car crash on Roosevelt Blvd. in the Ortega neighborhood of Jacksonville, Fla. during the strong winds from Tropical Storm Elsa, Wednesday, July 7, 2021.

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A cyclist makes his way long Bay Pines Boulevard the morning after Hurricane Elsa moved over the Tampa Bay Area, Wednesday, July 7, 2021 in St. Petersburg, Fla.

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Elsa weakened to a tropical storm as it threatened Florida’s northern Gulf Coast on Wednesday after raking past the Tampa Bay region.

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Hurricane Elsa threatened Florida's northern Gulf Coast on Wednesday after raking past the Tampa Bay region with gusty winds and heavy rain. Its maximum sustained winds were 75 mph early Wednesday.

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Luis Ernesto catches a small wave while surfing along Pass-a-Grille Beach, Wednesday, July 7, 2021 in St. Pete Beach, Fla., the morning after Tropical Storm Elsa moved over the Tampa Bay Area.

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About 250 electrical utility trucks are lined up at Duke Energy's staging location in The Villages of Sumter County on Tuesday, July 6, 2021. Elsa may hit central Florida on Tuesday and Wednesday, with possible localized flooding. Duke Energy staged a total of about 500 trucks at the location, and they will be deployed following Elsa to repair damage to electrical lines and poles.

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Beach walkers walk along the sand on Pass-a-Grille the morning after Tropical Storm Elsa moved over the Tampa Bay Area, Wednesday, July 7, 2021 in St. Pete Beach, Fla.

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Pedestrians dash across the intersection of Greene and Duval streets as heavy winds and rain associated with Tropical Storm Elsa passes Key West, Fla., on Tuesday, July 6, 2021. The weather was getting worse in southern Florida on Tuesday morning as Tropical Storm Elsa began lashing the Florida Keys, complicating the search for survivors in the condo collapse and prompting a hurricane watch for the peninsula's upper Gulf Coast.

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Shawn Frazier, 61, reinforces tarps over his Tampa home's roof ahead of Tropical Storm Elsa on Tuesday, July 6, 2021. Frazier said there was some leaking he caught during a recent rainy day.

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A man treads water and awaits rescue crews approximately 32 miles southeast of Key West, Fla., on Tuesday, July 6, 2021. The U.S. Coast Guard and a good Samaritan rescued 13 people after their boat capsized off of Key West as Tropical Storm Elsa approached.

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The Coast Guard Cutter Thetis’ crewmembers deploy the cutter’s small boat to rescue people in the water approximately 32 miles southeast of Key West, Fla., on Tuesday, July 6, 2021. The U.S. Coast Guard and a good Samaritan rescued 13 people after their boat capsized off of Key West as Tropical Storm Elsa approached.

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Crew members aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Thetis provide medical attention people rescued from the water approximately 32 miles southeast of Key West, Fla., on Tuesday, July 6, 2021. The U.S. Coast Guard and a good Samaritan rescued 13 people after their boat capsized off of Key West as Tropical Storm Elsa approached.

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Cranes cross the road during a rainstorm from Tropical Storm Elsa, Wednesday, July 7, 2021 in Westchase, Fla. The Tampa Bay area was spared major damage as Elsa stayed off shore as it passed by.

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Michael Ciarleglio with the city of Pinellas Park, cleans up a few tree branches while working the morning after Hurricane Elsa moved over the Tampa Bay Area, Wednesday, July 7, 2021 in Pinellas Park, Fla. The Tampa Bay area was spared major damage as Elsa stayed off shore as it passed by.

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Palm leaves lay on the ground following heavy rain and wind from Tropical Storm Elsa, Wednesday, July 7, 2021 in Westchase, Fla. The Tampa Bay area was spared major damage as Elsa stayed off shore as it passed by.

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Fallen trees block Front Street on Wednesday, July 7, 2021 in Valrico. Tropical Storm Elsa continued to track north after dropping heavy rain in the Tampa Bay area.

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Law enforcement investigators stand on the scene of a fatal car crash on Roosevelt Blvd. in the Ortega neighborhood of Jacksonville, Fla. during the strong winds from Tropical Storm Elsa, Wednesday, July 7, 2021.

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 strengthened Thursday to 50 mph (85 kph), as the storm dropped heavy rains on parts of North Carolina and Virginia, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said in its latest update. Elsa was expected to pass near the eastern mid-Atlantic states by Thursday night and move near or over the northeastern United States on Friday.

No significant change in strength is expected through Friday, and Elsa is forecast to become a post-topical cyclone by Friday night, the center said.

Tropical storm warnings were in effect along the coast from North Carolina to Massachusetts. 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.

The National Weather Service in Morehead City, North Carolina, tweeted that a tornado was spotted near Fairfield on Thursday afternoon. A tornado warning had been issued for Hyde County and surrounding counties.

Elsa seemed to spare Florida from significant damage, though it still threatened flooding downpours and caused several tornado warnings.

Authorities in Jacksonville, Florida, said one person was killed Wednesday when a tree fell and struck two cars. A spokesperson for the Naval Air Force Atlantic Office said Thursday that a sailor assigned to Patrol and Reconnaissance Squadron 16 in Jacksonville was killed.

Forecasters reported 50 mph (80 kph) wind gusts in the city. The tree fell during heavy rains, according to Capt. Eric Prosswimmer of the Jacksonville Fire Rescue Department.

Nine people were injured Wednesday evening in coastal Camden County, Georgia, when a tornado struck a campground for active-duty service members and military retirees at Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base. Eight of those hurt were taken to hospitals, base spokesperson Chris Tucker said. Some have since been released and others were kept for observation, he said.

The EF-2 tornado flipped over multiple RVs, throwing one of the overturned vehicles about 200 feet (61 meters) into a lake, the National Weather Service said in a preliminary report early Thursday after its employees surveyed the damage.

Tucker said about a dozen recreational vehicles at the campground were damaged. Some buildings were also damaged on the base, which is the East Coast hub for the Navy’s fleet of submarines armed with nuclear missiles. Tucker said there was no damage to submarines or any other “military assets.”

Sergio Rodriguez, who lives near the RV park, said he raced to the scene fearing friends staying at the park might be hurt.

“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.

In South Carolina, a Coast Guard Air Station Savannah crew rescued a family that became stranded on Otter Island on Wednesday after their boat drifted off the beach due to Elsa. A man, his wife and daughter, and three cousins were hoisted into a helicopter and taken to Charleston Executive Airport in good health Wednesday night, the Coast Guard said in a news release.

The hurricane center said there was a risk of flooding in South Carolina, which was predicted to get 3 to 5 inches (8 to 13 centimeters) of rainfall.

More than 7 inches (18 centimeters) of rain was recorded at a weather station near Gainesville, Florida, the weather service reported.

Scattered power outages were being reported along Elsa’s path Thursday afternoon, with about 26,000 homes and businesses without electricity from Florida to Virginia, according to the website poweroutages.us.

Elsa is the earliest fifth-named storm on record, said Brian McNoldy, a hurricane researcher at the University of Miami.

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Associated Press writers Jeff Martin in Marietta, Georgia; Jeffrey Collins in Columbia, South Carolina; Freida Frisaro in Fort Lauderdale, Florida; and Brendan Farrington in Tallahassee, Florida, contributed to this story. Anderson reported from St. Petersburg, Florida.

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