US & Canada

Tropical storm Debby drenches Florida

Tropical Storm Debby has drenched the US state of Florida, bringing flooding to parts and leading the governor to declare a statewide emergency.

The knot of low pressure has lingered over the Gulf of Mexico since Sunday evening, bringing a constant barrage of wind and rain.

State officials say at least 35,000 homes and businesses have had power knocked out by the extreme weather.

One woman died on Sunday after the storm whipped up tornadoes.

Crews in Alabama are meanwhile continuing their search for a South Carolina man missing off the coast.

The man, who was on holiday with his family, disappeared on Sunday afternoon in rough surf off Orange Beach.

Residents in low-lying neighbourhoods near the Florida coast have been advised to leave their homes, while the bridge to St George Island - a popular vacation spot - has been closed off.

Forecasters said the storm's maximum sustained winds weakened slightly to 45 mph (75 km/h), from 50mph, but say its strength is not likely to change over coming days.

Still, the US National Hurricane Center expects the storm to dump an additional 6-12in (15-30cm) over the area in the next few days.

Florida Governor Rick Scott declared a statewide emergency on Monday. The move allows the state to suspend certain laws as it responds to the storm, and access federal funds.

"Because of the broad impact of Tropical Storm Debby, virtually every county in Florida could be affected," Mr Scott said in a statement.

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