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Gordon's aftermath leaves Southeast soggy

Gordon caused flooding around Camp Lejeune, North Carolina  

RALEIGH, North Carolina (AP) -- At Camp Lejeune in North Carolina the water levels left behind by tropical depression Gordon were so high that schools corralled children instead of letting them walk home.

"It's a lake, our playgrounds are flooded, and the streets are flooding. It is just pouring," said Betty Hampton, a secretary at Stone Street Elementary.

Gordon caused scattered flooding, roof damage and power outages across Florida before producing hard rain Monday as it streamed across the Southeast coast.

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The storm was blamed for two deaths after a car hydroplaned and hit a tractor-trailer in North Carolina's Wayne County. A supervisor with the state police said about 150 weather-related accidents were reported in 12 southeastern counties.

The Coast Guard was searching late Monday for two men who left Southport on a fishing trip Sunday, when a tropical storm watch was issued for the entire coast.

In South Carolina, motorists sloshed across the Cooper River bridges linking Mount Pleasant and Charleston during the morning rush hour, their red tail lights dim against sheets of rain.

"Unfortunately, the area that got the worst rain got heavy rains just two weeks ago," said Kevin Woodworth, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Charleston.

The storm left 2 feet of water in the parking lot of the Inlet Square Mall south of Myrtle Beach and some vehicles were moved by the high water, the National Weather Service in Wilmington, N.C., reported. There was scattered street flooding elsewhere in the area.

Residents around City Hall in Georgetown, South Carolina, who stood by watching city workers being paddled out of the building, said they had never seen it so bad.

"I've got two feet of water in my dealership," said Francis "Jeep" Ford, owner of Parrish Motors, across the street from City Hall. "Never had any water in it before at all."

In Florida, damage was estimated at more than $1 million at Sanibel. In Jacksonville, Arturo Jackson, 40, was listed in critical condition at a hospital after an uprooted tree fell on top of his truck, which then struck a concrete pole Monday morning.

Near Tampa, where this year's rainfall is about 20 inches below the average of 51 to 53 inches, Gordon left as much as 5 inches of rain. However, much of it did not seep into the ground.

"Just a heavy rain is not going to do it by itself," said Michael Molligan, a spokesman for the Southwest Florida Water Management District.

All tropical storm warnings for southeastern North Carolina were lifted Monday morning, and flash-flood warnings along the coast were lowered by Monday afternoon.

Jacksonville, North Carolina, got 6.25 inches of rain and the town sent nonessential employees home early. "I know this is the most rain we've had in a short period of time like this since Floyd," which dumped as much as 2 feet of rain in September 1999, said city water department superintendent Ray Holder.

Even so, Jack Beven, a hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center in Miami, said Gordon fell short of expectations. The storm lost its power in a trough of dry air before it made landfall.

Tides rose 3 feet higher than normal in North Carolina's Wrightsville Beach, Fire Chief Everett Ward said. Jessica Corey, on her way home from Manhattan Bagel, said she was well aware.

"The rain was so hard, you could hardly see. There was maybe 2 feet visibility and several cars stalled out," she said. "I'm a little nervous about going home, driving in the flood."

Copyright 2000 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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National Hurricane Center
Florida Division of Emergency Management
The State of Florida
Pinellas County Emergency Management

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