Vacationers were wearing ponchos instead of swimsuits at the peak of the summer season because of the tropical storm, which has drenched Florida for at least four days straight like a big shower head set up off the state’s Gulf Coast. Debby has dumped as much as 26 inches of rain in some spots.
Disney World wasn’t as crowded as usual, and some of its theme parks closed early Monday because of the soggy, windy weather. Along the Florida Panhandle, where Debby has sat offshore nearly motionless for days, the parking lot at the 100-room Buccaneer Inn was empty because of a power outage ahead of the usually big pre-July Fourth weekend.
“We’ve had bad luck on this island,” said the inn’s vice president, JoAnn Shiver. “We’ve had Dennis. We’ve had Katrina. We had the oil spill.”
In a state where the biggest attractions are the sand and the sun, Debby forced many to make other plans.
Douglas and Carolyn Green of Nashville, Tenn., were supposed to spend a week on St. George Island with three generations of family, but arrived to find the electricity was out and the bridge closed to non-residents for fear of looters. They spent Monday night in nearby Apalachicola, and then all nine relatives headed to Fort Walton Beach.
“We never saw the island,” said Douglas Green. “We’re moving on. Plan B, I guess you’d call it.”
Debby was expected to blow ashore by this morning in the Big Bend area — the crook of Florida’s elbow — then cross the state and head into the Atlantic.
As of midafternoon Tuesday, it was centered about 35 miles off the coast and moving northeast at 6 mph. Debby was weakening and had sustained winds near 40 mph, barely a tropical storm.