DELACROIX, La. (AP) -- Rain from Tropical Storm Isidore spread deeper into the country early Friday, drowning a motorist who tried to cross a flooded road in Tennessee and leaving thousands of people in several states without power as they dug in for long hours of bailing water from cars and homes.
The Gulf Coast was spared hurricane-strength winds, but not by much. The sprawling storm's ill-defined eye passed over the Louisiana coast packing 65-mph winds -- 9 mph shy of hurricane speed. As it moved west, the storm spawned tornadoes from Louisiana to Florida.
"I didn't think the water would get this high. It just kept coming and coming and coming," said Susan Serpas, whose front yard in Delacroix had about 4 feet of water Thursday.
Forecasters said the storm, downgraded to a tropical depression, would slide into the Ohio Valley by the weekend, bringing heavy rain to the Midwest and the Northeast.
Tennessee was already dealing with scattered power outages, school closings and flooding Friday.
In Clarksville, Tenn., a motorist who drove around a barricade into a flooded roadway was swept up by the water and found dead early Friday. The vehicle was submerged vehicle in 8 to 10 feet of water, said Kurt Pickering, Tennessee Emergency Management Agency spokesman.
"It had its emergency flashers on," Police Lt. Gene Grubbs said. "That's all they could really see."
The storm had already caused at least $18 million in damage in Louisiana, including $3.7 million in lost sugar cane, Gov. Mike Foster said. He was seeking a federal disaster declaration. State Farm Insurance Co., the state's largest insurer, said it was expecting at least $25 million in claims in Louisiana alone on more than 3,000 homes and 5,000 automobiles damaged.
More than 140,000 people across the region lost electrical service during the storm and air travel was briefly interrupted by the downpours.
A tornado sparked by Isidore hit a barn near Graceville, Fla., injuring a farmer, while another damaged more than 20 homes in Santa Rosa Beach. Mississippi officials said floodwaters kept them from reaching a 67-year-old man who died of cardiac arrest early Thursday.
The storm lost its punch and was downgraded to a tropical depression as it moved past Jackson, Miss., late Thursday afternoon.
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