Farther south, in the Tampa Bay area, roads such as Tampa's Bayshore Boulevard were washed out. Residents tried to salvage belongings from flooded homes in low-lying areas. At one point Monday, high winds and flooding concerns prompted authorities to close two major routes over Tampa Bay into St. Petersburg: the Howard Frankland Bridge from Tampa and the Sunshine Skyway from the southeast.
Before nightfall, Debbie had dumped more than a foot of rain on some parts over the previous 96 hours. And forecasters were expecting the rains to continue, bringing another 4 to 8 inches across northern Florida.
Torrential rains and flooding would continue across parts of the Florida Panhandle and northern Florida for several days, even though the storm wasn't expected to gain strength.
"The widespread flooding is the biggest concern," said Florida Emergency Operations Center spokeswoman Julie Roberts. "It's a concern that Debby is going to be around for the next couple of days, and while it sits there, it's going to continue to drop rain. The longer it sits, the more rain we get."
At least one person was killed Sunday by a tornado spun off by the large storm system.
WFLA-TV reported that a young mother, Heather Town, died Sunday when her Highlands County home was lifted off its foundation and she and her baby girl were thrown into nearby woods. The mother was found clutching the child, who survived.
"She was a great mother, and held her baby through all of this and held her so tight," her father, Elmer Town, Jr., told the news station. "She was holding her during the tornado. And when they found her, she was still holding her."