CEDAR KEY, Fla. -- Residents of this rustic fishing town cleaned up broken tree limbs and surveyed roof damage Monday after Gordon plowed ashore with wind just below hurricane strength and quickly weakened.
The former hurricane was downgraded to a tropical depression Monday as it spread locally heavy rain through Georgia and into the Carolinas, causing some street flooding. Rain had stopped falling at Cedar Key but the sky was still overcast Monday.
No deaths or injuries had been reported, but several tornadoes caused scattered damage in Florida and there was still a possibility of tornadoes Monday along the Atlantic Coast from South Carolina into southern North Carolina.
Gordon hit Cedar Key and the rest of Florida's upper central Gulf Coast about 8 p.m. Sunday with drenching rain and a 6-foot storm surge topped by waves.
Most of Cedar Key's 800 residents ignored suggestions that they voluntarily evacuate and stayed home to face the storm, which never grew much above minimum hurricane strength.
"Everything worked out real good on the storm," Mayor Heath Davis said at daybreak. "It fell apart after landfall, and came in after high tide. If any of those circumstances had been different, we would have had a serious problem."
Storm damage on the island appeared limited to a few downed trees, roofs that lost shingles and power lines brought down by falling tree limbs. All power was restored by daybreak in the community about 100 miles north of Tampa.
"We expected the wind damage to be about what it is." Davis said. "We're relieved we didn't get the storm surge everybody anticipated."
A surge of up to 10 feet had been forecast; Cedar Key sits only 2 to 3 feet above sea level.
The storm's top sustained wind blew at 70 mph, just below hurricane strength of 74 mph, when Gordon crossed the Florida coast. Earlier, it had reached 75 mph.
By 11 a.m. Monday, Gordon's top wind speed had fallen to 35 mph, mainly off the Atlantic coast, and it was centered about 40 miles northwest of Brunswick, Ga. Radar showed its heaviest rain falling over the eastern Carolinas.
The depression was moving toward the north-northeast at about 13 mph and was expected to continue that motion with an increase in forward speed over the next 24 hours, said the National Hurricane Center in Miami.
An estimated 4 inches of rain fell per hour around Georgetown, S.C., the National Weather Service said, posting flood warnings for the region. Some streets were flooded in Georgetown.
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