Across the State of Florida, word of mouth spread quickly as citizens asked one another, “Isn’t this a little early to be naming a fourth storm in the gulf?” Indeed it was. Indeed it is. In fact, for an average year, the fourth major storm wouldn’t have come anywhere near Florida until late August. So there is definitely something unique about Tropical Storm Debby.
On Tuesday, June 26, Debby made landfall at around 5pm near Steinhatchee, Florida. Within three hours, she had been downgraded to a tropical depression. However, major flooding continued through the night as waters rose in Jacksonville, leading to multiple water rescues and portions of Interstate 10 going through highway closures.
Perhaps most shocking was that Debby spawned a twister in rural Highlands County, Florida, where a woman, Heather Town, was killed and her three year old daughter, Ann Marie, was injured. The Town home was literally lifted from its foundations and tossed into the nearby woods. When rescue workers found the two, Heather was grasping her child, who was tangled in barbed wire and struggling to breathe. Ann Marie has proven resolute, coming through the tragedy with only a little pain, but she is sure to face an uphill battle emotionally as her extended family now works to comfort not only her, but Heather’s other two daughters, Amber and Angelica. Heather’s father, Elmer Town, considers his daughter a hero, saying that her sacrifice demonstrated exactly the kind of mother she was to her three girls.
As Debby continues to churn through Florida, losing steam throughout the week, citizens should be wary of other dangers, such as flooding and tornadoes, that often travel in the same path as the once frightening storm. Perhaps nothing could have prevented the Town tragedy, but we certainly hope that no one else has to endure such conditions for the remainder of this year’s fourth major storm.
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